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Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1974)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1974)

In Martin Scorsese's dramatic film, his first Hollywood studio production, about female self-actualization that ultimately became a popular TV comedy series titled Alice:

  • the surrealistic prologue - a reddish-tinged homage to The Wizard of Oz (1939), a flashback to young 8 year-old Alice Graham (Mia Bendixsen) living in Monterey, CA in 1947, singing her version of Alice Faye's You'll Never Know with aspirations to be a singer
The Musical Opening - Transitioning to the Present
  • the opening scene transitioned abruptly to 27 years later (the year 1974), in Socorro, NM, now with middle-class housewife Alice Hyatt (Oscar-winning Ellen Burstyn) in her mid-30s, unhappily married to Coca-Cola truck driver Donald (Billy Bush), and with a precocious, ill-mannered, often-bratty young son Tommy (Alfred Lutter)
  • the scene of recently-widowed, quietly-despairing Alice Hyatt in a Phoenix, AZ hotel room in transit through the Southwest toward her childhood home of Monterey, California to find work; she was accompanied by her "whining" young son Tommy; after too many complaints, she forced him to sit and demanded that he write down all of his "problems" including things that were wrong with his life ("all the bad things"); she expressed her exasperation and frustrations to him: "I'm out there, spendin' too much money on clothes, tryin' to look like maybe I'm under 30 so that somebody will hire me, and you're sittin' in here, whining like an idiot. I will get a job, all right? I will get you to Monterey before your birthday. I will get you in school by September. I swear it! Shall I open a vein and sign it in blood? I'm sorry, Tommy. I know you're upset, too. You've been taken away from your home and your friends, and everything. When we get to Monterey, things will be better"
  • Alice's job in a greasy-spoon diner in Tucson, AZ known as Mel & Ruby's Cafe; there were scenes with fellow waitresses at the diner, owned and managed by short order cook Mel Sharples (Vic Tayback): shy and neurotically-loopy Vera (Valerie Curtin) and sassy, hardened and foul-mouthed Flo (Oscar-nominated Diane Ladd)
  • the sequence of Mel asking Flo where Vera was, and she responded with the vulgar: "She went to s--t, and the hogs ate her!" - spraying ketchup all over customers and herself
  • the frequent dirty joking that Flo engaged in with Mel:
    Flo: "Mel, what you doin' back there, pulling on your puddin'? Or are you givin' it a whack with a hammer? I heard the only way you can get it up is to slam it in a door"
    Mel: "I don't want to get too close to you, honey. It will get you all bothered up early in the morning"
    Flo: "Man, I could lay under you, eat fried chicken and do a crossword puzzle at the same time. That's how much you bother me"
  • the scene of Flo and Alice sunbathing with Flo's hint: ("Honey, unbutton that top button. Yeah, if you bend over, that's how you get more tips when you're working"), and also their girl-talk in a toilet stall

Alice (Ellen Burstyn) with son Tommy (Alfred Lutter) in Arizona Hotel Room

Tommy Writing List of Problems

Alice Working at Mel & Ruby's Cafe

Flo (Diane Ladd) with Mel (Vic Tayback)

Alice Working with Flo

Flo and Alice Sunbathing

In a Toilet Stall


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