-Released on December 25, 1990

-Budget: $12,000,000 (estimated)

-Gross: $7,331,647 (USA) [1]

-Production Company: Orion Pictures Corporation

-Distributor: Orion Pictures Corporation

-Rated PG-13

-Runtime: 102 min

-Aspect Ratio: 1.85 : 1

"Alice" Screening Companion

Dr. Yang: "Freedom is a frightening thought." From Alice


-"...Change is death. That's an opinion of mine. I'm against change. Because change equals ageing, change equals the progression of time, the destruction of the old order. Now, you can say that somebody in a certain station of life wants nothing more that change, because they want the destruction of the old order. But ultimately, to me, change is not your friend. It's like nature. Change is your temporary friend sometimes...Change is a fair-weather friend, a short-term friend." -WA [6]


-"I thought it would be a funny story to concentrate on a woman like Alice. Because all of these women are always involved with acupuncture and nutrition and message and cosmetics and face-lifts and things like that. So I thought it would be a funny story that she goes to an acupuncturist  but really he's a musician. And he turns her life around completely. Because what's bothering her is nothing physical. There's nothing physically wrong with her. It's all emotional." WA [6]


-"Well, nobody is really religious anymore, and people are running around craving some kind of spiritual life. They attach it to psychoanalysis, they attach it to acupuncture, to nutrition, to health food. People need some kind of inner life, something to believe in. There are many things that serve that purpose." -WA [6]


-The idea for Alice (1990) came to the director when he sought an alternative treatment for a sty in his eye. Allen did not find relief in  the treatment, which involved using a cat's whisker to clear the tear duct. The fascination this kind of medicine held for wealthy women in the upper echelons of New York society intrigued Allen, despite his natural skepticism for such treatments. [3]


-In Alice - the original working title for the film was The Magical Herbs of Dr. Yang - Allen crafted a story about a hypochondriac upper-class housewife who discovers unusual things about her life when she partakes of various prescriptions written by a Chinese herbalist. [3]


-Mia Farrow never got her equivalent of an Annie Hall, although Alice comes the closest. Annie Hall was ostensibly a love-letter to Diane Keaton, although it ended up being more about Woody Allen. Alice, while it’s not the superior film, is at least wholly devoted to Mia Farrow. In fact, the film’s primary shortfall is that it assumes you are equally entranced by Mia Farrow. [2]

Filming Alice


-Filming began in late 1989, with Farrow taking on her first role since the birth of Satchel, her son with Allen, two years earlier.[3]


-Loosely based on aspects of Mia Farrow's own life. [3]


-On location in the Village, they permitted photographers to snap them with Dylan and Satch, on the swings in Abingdon Square Park, in a cozy family atmosphere. [7]


-The movie seemed like a through-back to the old days when Woody had presented an adorable Mia in A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy, prompting one reviewer to observe that "he seems to have dedicated this funny valentine to his diminutive sweetheart." It was Mia's last good role. [7]


-Farrow and Allen both found the experience exhausting -- Farrow was still up many nights with her young son and Allen found the shoot an exercise in frustration. Constantly obsessing over details he shot and re-shot sequences, eventually checking briefly into a hospital by the end of the shoot. [3]


-According to Julian Fox in his book, Woody: Movies from Manhattan, the director was "maddened by small details like a wrong camera angle in a sequence filmed on Madison Avenue or the sudden glimpse of Mia's white dress under her deep-red coat as she walked across Central Park. The white dress ruined the aesthetics of the scene, he complained. 'All this compulsion - and all of that is no guarantee that the film is going to be any good.' [3]


-Alice stands out as the rare Woody Allen film that features special effects that support the paranormal quality of the story. Concerned about overshadowing the acting with elaborate visual effects, Allen mandated that the flying and invisibility sequences were to be shot in a manner that was as friendly as possible to the actors involved -- all on a limited budget. [3]

-The role of Dr. Yang was played by Keye Luke, a character actor whose career dated back to his role as the Number One Son of Charlie Chan in the series of films about the popular Chinese detective. [3]


-His role as Dr. Yang was the final film role for Keye Luke. He died only weeks after this film was released. [1]


-Cinematographer Carlos Di Palma makes his return after sitting out the last three movies. [2]


-Film debut of Lisa Marie [1]


-Like all of Allen's films, Alice is full of amusing cameos by famous actors and media personalities: Patrick O'Neal appears in a scene with no dialogue, directors James Toback and Bob Balaban appear respectively as a professor of screenwriting and an admirer of Alice's; Australian supermodel Elle Macpherson makes her film debut here in a scene where she undresses before Joe Mantegna (invisible to her). [3]


-Judy Davis makes her first of five Woody Allen movie appearances as Joe’s ex-wife. [2]


-Sean Young filmed a small role but it was later cut. She had previously been deleted from Woody Allen's previous film Crimes and Misdemeanors as well. [1]

Critical Reception:


-Like many of Allen's subsequent films, the reception for Alice was tepid in the U.S. and extremely enthusiastic overseas. [3]


-Roger Ebert said in his review: "Alice lacks the philosophical precision of Allen's Crimes and Misdemeanors, and the psychological messiness of Hannah and Her Sisters, and it also lacks the rigorous self-discovery of his underrated Another Woman. It's in the tradition of his more whimsical films, like A Midsummer's Night Sex Comedy." [4]


-Vincent Canby said in his review: "It is also his apotheosis of Miss Farrow, who has never looked more beautiful (she has bones to rival Katharine Hepburn's) and has never been more surprisingly funny and affecting. In this, their 11th collaboration, Miss Farrow gives a performance that sums up and then tops all of the performances that have preceded it." [5]


-...there are a number of familiar Woody Allen calling cards. There are a few of the usual themes — infidelity, family, writing. This is the third straight film (if you exclude the short Oedipus Wrecks) in which the film’s protagonist interacts with her memories. This is the third film in which Mia Farrow has a mother who’s a boozy, failed actress. Alice decides to become a writer, and comes up with a number of story ideas, all of which are ripped directly from her life — just like Holly in Hannah and her Sisters, Larry in Another Woman, and Alvy Singer in Annie Hall. [2]


Alice is a movie with no shortage of clever moments, but it’s less than the sum of its parts — mainly because its parts are often pulling in opposite directions. It’s structured like it should be all about Alice/Farrow, and her journey to happiness. The problem is, it’s so distracted and jumbled that it forgets to make Alice into someone we care enough to take that journey with. Instead of falling in love with Farrow, we’re left with a performance and a character that mostly engender indifference. [2]


-Farrow won a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress. [3]


-This movie earned Allen yet another Best Screenplay Oscar nomination. [2]


-77% Rotten Tomatoes rating



-Alice is a comedy version of Another Woman." -WA [6]


-The film is a loose reworking of Federico Fellini's 1965 film Juliet of the Spirits. [8]


-Allen named the film "Alice," because that was a "quintessential kind of rich WASPy name. It's not a Jewish name, an Italian name, an ethnic name. I wanted Alice a clean, blonde, rich person." -WA [6]


-The couple's adopted daughter, Dylan O'Sullivan Farrow, wound up playing the role of Kate in the film. [3]


-For the invisibility sequences, special effects technician Randall Balsmeyer used a soft-screen matte technique that he had used in Dead Ringers (1988) explaining, "To make people appear and disappear we used a soft-edged light, as they would usually disappear from the feet up. The last visible part was their head and that would fade." [3]


-William Hurt plays Mia's husband in the film. After coming off a string of hits, including winning an Oscar for his role in Kiss of the Spider Woman, he happily accepted union scale to work with Woody. He was quoted on set saying,"Do you believe it? We're actually in a Woody Allen movie!" [7]

[1] - imdb.com

[2] - www.EveryWoodyAllenMovie.com

[3] - Turner Movies Classics

[4] - Roger Ebert for the Chicago Sun Times, published December 25, 1990

[5] - Vincent Canby for The New York Times, published December 25, 1990

[6] - Woody on Woody In Conversation with Stig Bjorkman

[7] - The Unruly Life of Woody Allen by Marion Meade

[8] - Wikipedia