Translating Booth Tarkington’s sometimes poignant and pathetic 1921 novel of the pretending, wistful Alice, whose economic background almost proves too much of a hurdle to surmount, must have been a yeoman task. That George Stevens’ direction captures the wistfulness of Katharine Hepburn’s superb histrionism, and yet has not sacrificed audience values at the altar of too much drabness and prosaic realism, is an achievement of no small order.
The star’s own performance in uncompromising and unvacillating. If she’s a silly little ninny in her pretenses and simple pretexes, she is permitted to run almost berserk on the petty inanities of small-town aspirations.
Ann Shoemaker, as the ambitious but firm and understanding mother, is effective contrast to Fred Stone’s cinematic debut performance as the thankful-for-small-favors head of the Adams household.
Likewise, good taste in Evelyn Venable’s rich girl’s aspirant for Fred McMurray, principal juve, is shown in not toughening up the role unnecessarily.
1935: Nominations: Best Picture, Actress (Katharine Hepburn)