"Alice's Restaurant" Is Released

Alice's Restaurant is a 1969 movie adapted from a song by Arlo Guthrie.

The song is Guthrie's most famous work, a talking blues based on a true story that began on Thanksgiving Day 1965. The movie reproduces the events of the song, in addition to other scenes.

The movie is directed and co-written by Arthur Penn and stars Guthrie as himself, Pat Quinn as Alice Brock and James Broderick as Ray Brock, with the real Alice making a cameo appearance. In the scene where Ray and friends are installing insulation, she is wearing a brown turtleneck top and has her hair pulled into a ponytail. In the Thanksgiving dinner scene, she is wearing a bright pink blouse. In the wedding scene, she is wearing a Western-style dress.

Intrigued by the counterculture tale of Arlo Guthrie's epic 1968 talking-blues record The Alice's Restaurant Massacree, director Arthur Penn, co-scripting with playwright Venable Herndon, adapted the song into the 1969 feature Alice's Restaurant. Hippie outsider Arlo (Guthrie, playing himself) encounters suspicion from the straight world; visits his dying father, renowned leftist activist/singer Woody Guthrie (Joseph Boley), in the hospital along with friend Pete Seeger; and hangs out in the title converted church/commune created by his friends Alice (Pat Quinn) and her husband Ray (James Broderick). After Alice's "Thanksgiving dinner that couldn't be beat," Arlo is arrested for littering by rule-following Officer "Obie" Obanhein (William Obanhein, playing himself). That littering arrest helps Arlo avoid the Vietnam draft, but the commune is threatened after more personal, old-fashioned conflicts over sex and partnerships permeate Alice and Ray's alternative world. ~ Lucia Bozzola, All Movie Guide