Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1974)

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Released 8-Jun-2005

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio
Audio Commentary-Select Scenes: Martin Scorsese (Director) And Actors
Featurette-Second Chances
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1974
Running Time 107:29
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (56:19) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4,5 Directed By Martin Scorsese
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Ellen Burstyn
Kris Kristofferson
Billy Green Bush
Diane Ladd
Lelia Goldoni
Harvey Keitel
Lane Bradbury
Vic Tayback
Jodie Foster
Valerie Curtin
Murray Moston
Harry Northup
Alfred Lutter III
Case ?
RPI $19.95 Music Ian Hunter
Richard LaSalle


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
French
Italian
Dutch
Arabic
Bulgarian
Romanian
English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Martin Scorsese left squabbling gangsters in Little Italy behind for what he later called his only "studio picture", Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore. Sadly, the story of a single mother struggling to make ends meet with her minimum wage job while juggling her parenting, work, and personal responsibilities, is as relevant and important today as it was 30 years ago when it was made.

    Originally studying to be a Catholic Priest, Scorsese left the Seminary in the 1950s to study film-making at New York University. With a directing career beginning at the end of the 1950s, some of Scorsese's more notable films include Mean Streets (1973), Taxi Driver (1976), Raging Bull (1980), The King of Comedy (1983), The Color of Money (1986), The Last Temptation of Christ (1988), Goodfellas (1990), Cape Fear (1991), The Age of Innocence (1993), Casino (1995), and Kundun (1997).

    As I've noted in other reviews, Scorsese's films tend to be set in the dark under-belly of New York, often featuring characters and locations of his home town of Little Italy, New York. His movies often focus on anti-social loner protagonists, struggling with the difficult circumstances that they find themselves in. Scorsese has teamed up with actor Robert De Niro eight times, and for both of them these tend to be their better films. Other actors who seem to shine under Scorsese's direction include Harvey Keitel and Joe Pesci.

    Scorsese's far-reaching influence on other writer/directors over the last 30 years is obvious with the constant referencing and imitating of his work. Along with Francis Ford Coppola, he has helped define what a modern gangster movie should look and feel like, and along with Woody Allen, Scorsese has helped define New York's image in popular culture and film throughout the twentieth century.

    Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore is a departure from Scorsese's usual style. It's the film he made between Mean Streets and Taxi Driver, and is very much unlike either of them. While there are moments of Scorsese's black humour and cathartic violence, such as the scene of rage provided by Harvey Keitel's character, for the most part Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore is a sensitive and subtle character-based drama.

    Following the success of Exorcist, Ellen Burstyn had director approval on this film. After seeing Mean Streets, Burstyn claims to have been impressed with the realistic portrayal of people and relationships that Scorsese brought to the screen. Scorsese, on the other hand, was impressed with Robert Getchell’s touching screenplay, and later admitted that he wanted to direct this film to prove that he could also direct women.

    Thus, the two teamed together for the semi-autobiographical Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore. Semi-autobiographical, as the story closely resembles aspects of Burstyn's life, and how she was feeling at the time.

    In the story, Alice (Ellen Burstyn), a New Mexico housewife, is unexpectedly widowed and is suddenly forced to care for herself and her wisecracking 12 year-old son, Tommy (Alfred Lutter). Understandably, she turns to what she knows. Alice had briefly been a singer in Monterey before getting married and becoming a housewife. Alice decides to travel with her son, back to Monterey, and resume her singing career.

    Along the way there, she faces reality, and takes a waitress job in a diner. This is a new world for Alice, and she is continually shocked by the foul mouth of her crude co-worker Flo (Diane Ladd). Here, Alice also meets a potential suitor, the lonely farmer David (Kris Kristofferson).

    The film is powered by Burstyn's Oscar-winning performance, but all the actors are great. Apart from the aforementioned, there are also small but impressive supporting roles by a fiery Harvey Keitel and a cocky Jodie Foster. Needless to say, Scorsese's surprisingly delicate direction is sublime.

    Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore inspired the hit TV sitcom, Alice (1976-85), with Linda Lavin as Alice, Polly Holliday as Flo, and Vic Tayback reprising his role as the gruff Mel Sharples, of Mel's Diner.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The transfer is good for its age, but very grainy.

    The widescreen transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced.

    The image is quite soft throughout, and often lacks definition. The black level and shadow detail are good, as seen in the interior of the motel at 24:07.

    The colour appears a little washed out, but the skin tones are accurate.

    There are no problems with MPEG or film-to-video artefacts, but the source material suffers from excessive grain, such as the shot of the diner interior at 31:19.

    Film artefacts appear throughout, but most are small.

    English, French, Italian, Dutch, Arabic, Bulgarian, Romanian, English for the Hearing Impaired, and Italian for the Hearing Impaired subtitles are provided, and the English subtitles are accurate.

    This is a Dual Layer disc, with the layer change placed at 56:19. It is between scenes, and not disruptive.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    Originally released theatrically 30 years ago in Dolby Mono, the DVD's audio is . . . Dolby Mono. Indeed, there are four mono tracks to choose from: English Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s), French Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s), Italian Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s), and English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s).

    The dialogue quality and audio sync are fine on the default English Dolby Digital 1.0 audio track.

    The musical score is credited to Ian Hunter and Richard LaSalle. There is a lot of source music, as a radio is often on in the background (playing country music of course) and the two main characters, Alice and David, both sing in the story.

    As a Mono track, there is no surround presence or LFE activity.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

    A very simple, static menu with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio.

Audio Commentary

    Presented in mono, Director Martin Scorsese, and Actors Ellen Burstyn and Kris Kristofferson provide commentary on selected scenes. The commentaries and comments appear to be recorded separately.

Featurette-Second Chances (19:53)

    Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio, here Actors Ellen Burstyn and Kris Kristofferson reflect on the film and its story.

Theatrical Trailer (2:29)

    Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced, with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    Apart from R1's NTSC picture, our DVD edition is the same as the R1 and R2 (UK) editions.

    However, in R1, this title is also available as part of the Martin Scorsese Collection Box Set with After Hours, GoodFellas: SE, Mean Streets: SE and Who's That Knocking At My Door?

    I would prefer our R4 edition for its superior PAL image.

Summary

    An excellent film, Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore should be viewed by anyone who appreciates good character-based drama, or Scorsese's work in general.

    The video quality is slightly disappointing, but still very watchable.

    The audio quality is limited by being mono, but gets the job done.

    The extras are good.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Brandon Robert Vogt (warning: bio hazard)
Saturday, July 02, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-535, using S-Video output
DisplayGrundig Elegance 82-2101 (82cm, 16x9). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationSony STR DE-545
SpeakersSony SS-V315 x5; Sony SA-WMS315 subwoofer

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