Saturday, October 28, 2006

The Social Glue

A Movie Review

The first significant film from director George Stevens, Alice Adams is RKO's 1935 film adapation of Booth Tarkingtons novel of class resentment in the 1920's. Katharine Hepburn is Alice, a girl of middle-class upbrining who finds it hard to compet socialy among her better off peers. When a man who comes from money (Fred McMurray) starts to take an intreset in her, Alice puts up a front of coming from a similar background. The desire to see his daughter happy, combined with his wifes constant nagging, convinces the slightly befuddeld Mr. Adams (Fred Stone) to break with his employer and start a glue buisness based on a formula to which he has questionable claim.

The strength of Stevens direction is reveled in how uncomfortable this film about people being uncomfortable makes the viewer feel. If anything the directors skills at awkward moments makes the movie seem to play too long, while in fact it clocks in at only 99 minutes. Now typically someone trying to 'act above their station' is a concept played for laughs in film, and while there are some lightly funny moments in the picture, mostly the Adams aspirations and attempts at being 'high class' are played in a sad to tragic vain. Alice Adams is memorable for Miss Hepburns strong performance playing both niave and knowing at the same time. The way she shakes and pleads with her eyes in the scene after the familys awful dinner party is dang impresive. The movies one major flaw is the sell-out ending which the studio forced on director and star despite their joint opposition to it. Worth mentioning is Hattie McDaniels performance and a rather unenthusiastic maid.


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