Alice's Restaurant

Introduced by Nat Segaloff

Segaloff is a Los Angeles-based writer whose most recent book is Arthur Penn: American Director. A book signing will follow the film.

With the draft decimating the ranks of the young during the sixties, dodging military service was a national pastime. Arlo Guthrie's rambling ballad, “The Alice's Restaurant Massacree,” became a how-to tale for the peace-loving counterculture. Penn's wistful film version retains the folksy simplicity of the original tune while inserting Arlo's quirky observations as narrator of his own follies. The mother-to-all Alice (Pat Quinn) and her hippie hubby Ray (James Broderick) establish a commune in a converted church in Stockbridge, Massachusetts (the very town where Penn resided, along with Norman Rockwell) where artists and dropouts, folkies, and just plain folks congregate. After a huge Thanksgiving dinner, Arlo (himself) is assigned to dispose of the trash; his subsequent arrest for littering makes this young peacenik unfit for military duty. Using a mostly amateur cast of flower children, Alice's Restaurant has an incense-tinged naturalism that wafts with authenticity. And at its center is not Arlo but Alice herself, desirable, compassionate, and tragic as she watches this beautiful, generational moment disappear.

This page may by only partially complete. For additional information about this film, view the original entry on our archived site.