Fresh from her success in THE
Burstyn came across the script for ALICE DOESN'T LIVE HERE ANYMORE and
on the strength of Francis Ford Coppola's endorsement and a viewing of
MEAN STREETS, met with Martin Scorsese to see if he would direct
it. Although she admired his enthusiasm and energy,
she wasn't sure if he had
what it took to do a "woman's" picture. "What do you know
women?" she asked.
"Nothing," replied Scorsese,
"but I'd like to
You'd never know he knew nothing about women.
ALICE DOESN'T LIVE
ANYMORE is not just one of Scorsese's finest, most
accessible films, it is a great example of how
to make a great, entertaining socio-political movie based without being
preachy. It is a gentle comedy about one
her son and
their side trips while trying to make it to Monterey. The
script is excellent, and in any other hands but Scorsese's, it would
still resulted in a good film. Scorsese, however, brought the
realism of MEAN STREETS to the project, resulting in a film that
looks and feels like real life.
However, this is
film. If Scorsese did not know anything about women, Burstyn
and Scorsese stepped out of the way and let her do her stuff.
sweet, funny, emotionally complex portrayal of Alice Hyatt, the
35-year-old widow who dreams of being a professional singer, won her a
well-deserved Best Actress award from the Academy.
The supporting cast
ranks among the best in
Scorsese's history, with standouts being Diane Ladd as the
foul-mouthed waitress Flo, and Vic Tayback as diner owner Mel, a role
he would reprise on the popular television series Alice.
Jodie Foster plays a
world-wise teen who befriends Alice's son, a turn that would lead to
her famous role in Scorsese's TAXI DRIVER two years later.
Billy Green Bush and Harvey Keitel are
frighteningly believable as abusive
men in Alice's life, and Valerie Curtin is memorable as the
not-quite-all-there waitress Vera. Alfred Lutter as son Tommy
Kris Kristofferson as Alice's potential beau can be
over-acting and underacting respectively, but they do nothing to hurt
BOXCAR BERTHA proved Martin Scorsese could competently direct a movie. MEAN STREETS proved he could direct a great personal movie. It was ALICE DOESN'T LIVE HERE ANYMORE that first hinted that this Scorsese kid just might be capable of directing anything. - JB
The famous "Shoot the dog!" scene, in which Alice is driven to near tears in a car listening to her son Tommy retell the same lame joke again and again was added to the movie after Scorsese was similarly trapped in a car with child actor Alfred Lutter, who drove the director to near tears with that same lame joke.