Katharine Hepburn did it again, with Alice Adams

Roxana Anton


Image Source: Katharine Hepburn in her role "Woman of the Year" Hepburnhttps://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Katharine_hepburn_woman_of_the_year_cropped.jpg

Yes, last night Katharine Hepburn did it again.

She managed to deeply impress me. Again. And every time I watch one of her movies, I perfectly understand why she is considered to be the best actress in history.

One of my targets, this month, is to watch all of her films that I can find online (I don't have Netflix, ironically, so all I can do is youtube, Dailymotion, and other platforms).

This time, Katharine emerged from one of her forgotten movies, called "Alice Adams", from 1935.

Unfortunately, I didn't find her first Oscar prize, "Morning Glory", so I will be talking about "Alice Adams", a movie that also received two nominations: Best Picture and Best Actress.

And Gosh, if Katharine deserved this nomination. She was brilliant as a gem in a sea of wickedness and false beliefs.

Alice Adams is a 1935 romantic drama film adapted from the novel Alice Adams by Booth Tarkington, in 1921.

The film is about a young woman in a financially struggling family, and her pretentious attempts to appear upper-class and wed a wealthy man while concealing her poverty. Hepburn's popularity had declined after her two 1933 film triumphs - her Oscar-winning performance in Morning Glory and her celebrated performance as Jo March in Little Women; her performance in Alice Adams made her a public favorite again. (Information Source: Wikipedia)

Alice's father is a sick man who doesn't have a job anymore.

Alice, her mother, and her brother struggle with poverty but most of all - with people's prejudices and exclusion. And this is an incredibly familiar theme, in today's society too.

Alice goes to a high society ball in one of her older dresses, hoping that no one will notice it. She smiles and desperately tries to be popular and to be invited to dance, while everyone simply ignores her.

The reason is the fact that people from "high society" think her father stole a glue formula from his former boss. The fact is only partially true, as her father never made the formula public and never tried to take advantage of it.

Alice is a subject of people's cruel gossip and ignorance of the truth, while she is completely innocent of being marginalized, ignored, and even finger-pointed. She desperately tries to socialize and make friends, in vain.

At the dance, Alice meets wealthy Arthur Russell, a wealthy young man who already promised to be engaged to a high-society young lady, but he is charmed by Alice despite her poverty.

The two start to see each other more often, Alice being terrorized by people's gossip, by the poorness of her house, their furniture, and especially - by her family.

She falls in love with Arthur, who is very kind and attracted to her, and never seems to notice the fact that she is poor and marginalized.

Alice desperately tries to create a fake reality, where her father is a rich owner of a glue factory.

Alice invites Russell to the Adams home for a fancy meal.

She and her mother put on airs, the entire family dresses inappropriately in formal wear despite the hot summer night, and the Adamses pretend that they eat caviar and fancy, rich-tasting food all the time.

The dinner is ruined by the slovenly behavior and poor cooking skills of Malena, the maid the Adamses have hired for the occasion.

Mr. Adams unwittingly embarrasses Alice by exposing the many lies she has told Russell. When Walter shows up with bad financial news, Alice gently expels Russell from the house now that everything is "ruined."

Things turn around in the end, and finally, Alice will be saved from humiliation and marginalization.

The young Arthur understands everything in the end, but his feelings for Alice are true and he simply confesses to loving her deeply, despite all obstacles.

What the film doesn't clearly say, and we intuit - is the fact that he probably was clever enough to see underneath the superficial things as richness and class. He probably understood how smart, noble, pure-hearted Alice really was, and how much she was suffering and struggling to try to hide her real state.

Alice was nothing but a victim of social misunderstandings, social ignorance also.

She was a victim of mean people who didn't see any worth in her person if she was not rich and her family didn't belong to certain "clubs".

She was a victim of a snob, stupid, superficial, and cruel society who didn't hesitate to point their finger at her and isolate her from social gatherings and even love (Alice was not even being invited to their feists and society gatherings).

Katharine Hepburn once more created an incredibly strong -though - fragile and complex character, of a young woman, noble-hearted, desperately struggling to win over prejudice and trying to conquer the love of the man that she loved.

She only wanted what truly belonged to her: a good marriage, a loving man who was going to help her have a good position, and everything she had missed all her life. And she did it all by "being herself": despite the lies she was telling to young Arthur, she was exactly herself: full of life, intelligence, spirit, sensibility.

Katharine Hepburn managed to show with her acting every thought, every emotion of her young character, being, in my opinion, an alive acting school.

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