Starring: Katharine Hepburn, Fred MacMurray, Evelyn Venable
Director: George Stevens
Running Time: 99 mins
Alice Adams is an American film about a poor woman who attempts to mingle amongst the wealthiest in high society, going out of her way to disguise her background. However, the facade becomes a problem when she grows close to an upper-class man who she fears will not accept her true social status.
This is a nice little film. It’s not a formulaic screwball comedy, nor is it a cheesy romantic drama, but a sweet, pleasant and captivating story about a woman dreaming of breaking out of poverty. The performances are great whilst the script and directing make it a very enjoyable watch, and although it may not have either the comedic quality nor the emotional power of some of the best movie romances, it’s good fun from start to finish.
The best part of the whole film is easily Katharine Hepburn. Released at a time when she was considered box office poison by cinemagoers and studios, her performance here really shows what a great actress she can be. Whilst her character may initially seem a little vapid and pretentious, her performance shines through to show you that this woman isn’t all about the glitz and the glamour of high society, but passionately wants to live a better life.
From then on, it’s impossible not to love Alice Adams, as she gets into all sorts of kerfuffles whilst attempting to impress potential suitors, but also because of her drive and determination. It’s not meant to be an inspiring crowd-pleaser of a film, but Hepburn’s portrayal of the protagonist is very heart-warming, and is the key reason that the whole film is so sweet and enjoyable.
Alongside Hepburn, Fred MacMurray is also very good. Whilst his character isn’t the most fascinating in comparison to Alice Adams, his typically suave confidence makes him the perfect person to play Adams’ dream man from the upper classes, and his chemistry with Hepburn in some of the film’s more intimate moments is yet more reason to smile at this film.
Besides the performances, the film’s story is also wonderful. On the one hand, it has the blissful sweetness of a light romance, but what separates it from being a formulaic genre film is the fact that it also has this dramatic story about Alice Adams’ attempts to break out from poverty. As a result, there’s more reason to care about the fate of her potential relationship than just ‘love’, and that goes a long way to making this a very captivating and enjoyable watch.
Overall, Alice Adams is an absolutely lovely film that will definitely put a smile on your face. Principally thanks to a brilliant central performance by Katharine Hepburn, but also because of Fred MacMurray’s turn and the both sweet and captivating screenplay, it’s a light, but still engaging film that’s a lot of fun to watch, and that’s why I’m giving it a 7.6.