Alice Adams (1935): 3/5
Alice Adams is an early-ish Katherine Hepburn film. Hepburn herself seems very young and fanciful, despite the fact that she was in her late 20s when it was filmed.
Her character, Alice, is a young social climber who hopes to woo a rich bachelor named Russell (Fred MacMurray) by pretending that she’s a born and bred, upper-class, proper lady. The problem is that Russell is – shocker! – already engaged to a true blue blooded girl named Mildred.
This is an interesting role for Hepburn, unlike most of her later roles in screwball comedies.
The film itself, though, is fairly typical. It’s centered on a young love triangle and class conflict, with the added drama of troubles within Alice’s family. There are no real surprises in the plot.
In a way, it almost reminded me of a younger, less over-the-top version of 1956’s The Rainmaker, in which Katherine Hepburn also stars. Both have the themes of self-acceptance, though The Rainmaker focuses on Lizzie’s spinster fears while Alice Adams focuses on Alice’s qualms over her social status.
But this lack of originality is not necessarily a bad thing. The modern viewer takes somewhat typical films for granted because we’re used to seeing the same plots recycled over and over again, but if you put yourself back in 1935 this film probably had a lot more impact. It’s also unimportant because the film as a whole is elevated by the performances of Hepburn, MacMurray and the surrounding supporting characters.
Alice Adams is by far not the best Hepburn film. It isn’t ground-breaking in terms of plot. But it’s a decent film packed with outstanding talent, and certainly worth a watch.