A woman, Alice Hyatt (Ellen Burstyn), is married to a bullying husband who dies and leaves Alice to deal with common independence. So be it. But Alice has a badly behaved 12-year-old son, Tommy (Alfred Lutter), and hopes to be a bar or eatery singer, departing from her dead hubby’s town to try her luck. It isn’t easy. The only permanence is found in a waitress job at a luncheonette, where Alice meets a cordial man, Kris Kristofferson‘s David, with whom she can seemingly begin a serious relationship.

This is a Martin Scorsese film, Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (1974), which he made rather arty. But the real problem is Robert Getchell’s amateurish writing. The dialogue can be insipid and vulgar (Tommy: “Life is short!” Alice: “So are you!”), and the everyday consorting of mother and son constitutes the angry, nonstop comedy routine of which John Simon correctly complained. Burstyn is first-rate—Lutter is beyond passable—and we do care about Alice. However, I don’t know what to make of the ridiculous Flo and Vera, waitresses at the luncheonette. What I make of the first rush hour scene at the luncheonette is that it’s an overplayed dud. The eatery looks like a hellhole. Alice is the follow-up feature to Scorsese’s Mean Streets, but neither mean streets nor Alice on the road offers me a comfortable cinematic place.