Alice, Sweet Alice (1978)

R | 108 mins | Horror | 10 May 1978

Director:

Alfred Sole

Cinematographers:

John Friberg, Chuck Hall

Editor:

Edward Salier

Production Designer:

John Lawless

Production Company:

Harristown Funding, Ltd.
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HISTORY

According to various contemporary sources, including a 21 Sep 1977 Var review and a 28 Jun 1977 DV news item, the film initially screened at festivals with the title Communion. DV announced that the picture, which was previously reported as a Columbia Pictures release, was acquired for distribution in the U.S. and Canada by Allied Artists Pictures.
       Linda Miller, who played "Catherine Spages," is the daughter of actor Jackie Gleason, as noted in the 28 Nov 1977 Box review. She was also the wife of actor-playwright Jason Miller, who appeared in The Exorcist (1973, see entry), and is the mother of actor Jason Patric.
       On 2 Nov 1977, Var reported that writer-director-producer Alfred Sole was in London, U.K., promoting Communion and the film was distributed in England at the time by Hemdale International Films Ltd. While Sole stated that the picture was filmed from 1975 – 1976 in his hometown of Paterson, NJ, with a budget of $400,000 that was financed through the state’s “tax shelter deals,” studio publicity materials from AMPAS library files reported that the film was made for $1 million.
       Principal photography began during the summer of 1975 at Paterson locations including the Rogers Locomotive building, the Cheek funeral home, the local police station, the Board of Health building and Westside Park. The film was also shot at two locations outside of Paterson: St. Michael’s Church in Newark, NJ, and the Governor Morris Hotel in Morris Township, NJ. According to publicity materials, the picture was conceived, filmed, edited and completed in eighteen months. ... More Less

According to various contemporary sources, including a 21 Sep 1977 Var review and a 28 Jun 1977 DV news item, the film initially screened at festivals with the title Communion. DV announced that the picture, which was previously reported as a Columbia Pictures release, was acquired for distribution in the U.S. and Canada by Allied Artists Pictures.
       Linda Miller, who played "Catherine Spages," is the daughter of actor Jackie Gleason, as noted in the 28 Nov 1977 Box review. She was also the wife of actor-playwright Jason Miller, who appeared in The Exorcist (1973, see entry), and is the mother of actor Jason Patric.
       On 2 Nov 1977, Var reported that writer-director-producer Alfred Sole was in London, U.K., promoting Communion and the film was distributed in England at the time by Hemdale International Films Ltd. While Sole stated that the picture was filmed from 1975 – 1976 in his hometown of Paterson, NJ, with a budget of $400,000 that was financed through the state’s “tax shelter deals,” studio publicity materials from AMPAS library files reported that the film was made for $1 million.
       Principal photography began during the summer of 1975 at Paterson locations including the Rogers Locomotive building, the Cheek funeral home, the local police station, the Board of Health building and Westside Park. The film was also shot at two locations outside of Paterson: St. Michael’s Church in Newark, NJ, and the Governor Morris Hotel in Morris Township, NJ. According to publicity materials, the picture was conceived, filmed, edited and completed in eighteen months.
       Although a 23 Jun 1977 HR news item announced that the film was scheduled for a U.S. release in the summer of 1977 and the 2 Nov 1977 HR stated that Communion was scheduled to open in Los Angeles, CA, on 11 Nov 1977, the film did not appear in Los Angeles theaters until 10 May 1978; it was reviewed in the 12 May 1978 LAT as Alice, Sweet Alice.
       LAT noted that the picture marked Brooke Shields’s first performance in a theatrically released feature film. According to publicity materials, Shields was nine years old during production. When Shields received critical acclaim for her performance in Louis Malle’s Pretty Baby (1978, see entry), the filmmakers hoped to capitalize on her popularity and re-packaged Communion as Alice, Sweet Alice. Although Communion previously screened at various festivals, including the 1976 Virgin Island Film Festival, where it won a gold medal, and the Chicago Film Festival, where it won a silver medal, it was not reviewed as a theatrically released film in the U.S. until the 1978 Los Angeles opening. A 28 Mar 1978 HR news item announced the change in title and the 10 May 1978 release date.
       As stated in a 3 Apr 1981 NYT review, the film was released again in 1981 by Dynamite Entertainment with the title Holy Terror. Although Shields played a small role in the picture, the Holy Terror advertisement campaign “prominently featured” her photograph and name, according to a 30 Apr 1981 HR news item, prompting Shields and her “advisers” to threaten legal action. Shields and Dynamite Entertainment reached an agreement that required Dynamite to “substantially change” their marketing campaign to deter the impression that Shields starred in the picture. A 29 May 1981 LAT brief added that Shields was concerned audiences would be misled by the advertisements. Shields reportedly wanted to distinguish the promotion of Holy Terror from the upcoming release Endless Love (1981, see entry), a film in which she actually played a starring role. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
28 Nov 1977.
---
Daily Variety
28 Jun 1977.
---
Film Journal
20 Apr 1981.
---
Hollywood Reporter
19 Nov 1976.
---
Hollywood Reporter
25 Apr 1977
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Jun 1977.
---
Hollywood Reporter
2 Nov 1977.
---
Hollywood Reporter
28 Mar 1978.
---
Hollywood Reporter
30 Apr 1981.
---
Los Angeles Times
12 May 1978
Section J, p. 34.
Los Angeles Times
29 May 1981.
---
New York Times
3 Apr 1981.
---
Variety
21 Sep 1977
p. 16.
Variety
2 Nov 1977.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITERS
Orig scr, Orig scr
Orig scr, Orig scr
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Dir of photog
Asst cam
Cam loader
Key grip
Film by
ART DIRECTOR
Prod des
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Asst ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
Cost des
MUSIC
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Makeup
Makeup
Hairstyles
Hairstyles
PRODUCTION MISC
Asst to prod
Asst to dir
Prod secy
Prod secy
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Tech adv, City of Paterson
Prod accountant
Prod services furnished by
SOURCES
SONGS
"Can't Help Lovin Dat Man," by Kern and Hammerstein
"Something to Remember You By," by Schwartz
"Three Little Fishies," by Kay Kyser.
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Communion
The Communion
Holy Terror
Release Date:
10 May 1978
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 10 May 1978
Production Date:
began summer 1975 in New Jersey
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Technicolor®
Duration(in mins):
108
MPAA Rating:
R
Countries:
United Kingdom, United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In 1961 New Jersey, a single mother, Catherine Spages, raises her two daughters, Alice and Karen. The girls’ father, Dom, has remarried and lives in another town. The family is Catholic; they attend St. Michael’s Church, and are close to the young priest, Father Tom. One Sunday after mass, Catherine and her daughters visit Father Tom at the rectory. Karen is preparing for her first communion and Father Tom gives her a crucifix. Alice, jealous of the attention her younger sister is receiving, dons a mask and frightens Mrs. Tredoni, the priests’ housekeeper. At home, Alice plays alone in the basement of the Spages' apartment building. Wearing a St. Michael’s yellow raincoat and a mask, Alice plays with the doll she stole from Karen that was a gift from their father. Alice torments her sister and taunts their landlord, Mr. Alphonso, who rarely leaves his foul-smelling, cat-filled apartment. Later, during communion, Karen is strangled by someone wearing a mask and a yellow raincoat. Her body is dragged into the chapel next to the church, placed inside a bench, and lit on fire. The smoke draws the attention of a nun whose screams alert the congregation to the murder. As detectives investigate the killing, the girls’ father, Dom, arrives. Following the funeral, Catherine’s sister, Annie Deloreneze, and her family, including daughter Angela, attempt to comfort Catherine and Alice. Frustrated at the lack of progress in the case, Dom talks to Detectives Brennan and Spina and, later, learns from Father Tom that Alice has had behavior problems at St. Michael’s school and there have been repeated requests for a psychiatric evaluation. Father Tom explains to Dom that he thought ... +


In 1961 New Jersey, a single mother, Catherine Spages, raises her two daughters, Alice and Karen. The girls’ father, Dom, has remarried and lives in another town. The family is Catholic; they attend St. Michael’s Church, and are close to the young priest, Father Tom. One Sunday after mass, Catherine and her daughters visit Father Tom at the rectory. Karen is preparing for her first communion and Father Tom gives her a crucifix. Alice, jealous of the attention her younger sister is receiving, dons a mask and frightens Mrs. Tredoni, the priests’ housekeeper. At home, Alice plays alone in the basement of the Spages' apartment building. Wearing a St. Michael’s yellow raincoat and a mask, Alice plays with the doll she stole from Karen that was a gift from their father. Alice torments her sister and taunts their landlord, Mr. Alphonso, who rarely leaves his foul-smelling, cat-filled apartment. Later, during communion, Karen is strangled by someone wearing a mask and a yellow raincoat. Her body is dragged into the chapel next to the church, placed inside a bench, and lit on fire. The smoke draws the attention of a nun whose screams alert the congregation to the murder. As detectives investigate the killing, the girls’ father, Dom, arrives. Following the funeral, Catherine’s sister, Annie Deloreneze, and her family, including daughter Angela, attempt to comfort Catherine and Alice. Frustrated at the lack of progress in the case, Dom talks to Detectives Brennan and Spina and, later, learns from Father Tom that Alice has had behavior problems at St. Michael’s school and there have been repeated requests for a psychiatric evaluation. Father Tom explains to Dom that he thought he could handle the situation, but it had recently gotten worse. In the apartment building stairwell, Annie is attacked by the masked figure wielding a knife. When Mr. Alphonso and Catherine interrupt, the attacker flees. Dom and Father Tom arrive and a hysterical Annie is taken to the hospital. Dom looks through the basement and finds Alice with the stolen doll. She claims that Karen attacked Annie. At the hospital, Catherine tells Father Tom that Mr. Alphonso called the police and told them Alice attacked Annie. Spina arrives and interviews Annie, who also implicates Alice. However, Catherine says that Annie believes Alice is evil because she was conceived out-of-wedlock. Alice is taken into custody where she is given a lie detector test that she fails. Dom continues to investigate on his own, unable to believe that his daughter is the perpetrator, and he asks Father Tom for a list of people who purchased the yellow St. Michael’s raincoats, hypothesizing that Angela or another student could be the killer. Meanwhile, Alice is taken to a psychiatric hospital where Dr. Whitman diagnoses her as schizoid and violent with latent hostility toward her mother. Catherine and Dom reassure their daughter that they are doing what is best for her. Later, when Catherine is harassed by phone calls during which the caller breathes heavily and hangs up, Dom comforts her with a kiss, but the interlude is interrupted by a call from Dom’s current wife, Julia, who would like him to return home. Catherine urges Dom to leave, but Dom feels that he needs to stay until the killer is found. Dom continues to suspect Angela. At his hotel, Dom gets a call from someone claiming to be Angela who requests a meeting. When Dom goes to the appointed spot, he sees someone in a yellow raincoat and mask and chases the figure into an abandoned building, where he is lured upstairs. The figure stabs him in the shoulder, beats him with a brick, and ties him up. The attacker removes her mask and reveals herself to be Mrs. Tredoni. The priests’ housekeeper taunts Dom for being a “whore” before throwing him off the building to his death. The next day, Catherine goes to the rectory looking for Dom, but Mrs. Tredoni tries to send her away when Catherine insists on waiting for Father Tom. Mrs. Tredoni tells Catherine about losing her own daughter on the day of her first communion. Father Tom returns and tells Catherine about Dom’s “accident.” Meanwhile, Dom’s autopsy reveals a crucifix similar to the charm Karen received for her communion lodged in Dom’s throat. Father Tom takes Catherine to pick up Alice from the hospital, but Catherine decides to postpone telling Alice about her father. Meanwhile, Mrs. Tredoni dressed in white, looks through old photos, and places a knife, mask, and gloves in a paper bag. Acting on a hunch, Detective Spina, goes to the Spages' apartment building. Inside, Mr. Alphonso sleeps as a masked figure places an open jar of roaches on his stomach. The intruder is Alice. When Catherine and Alice leave for mass, Mr. Alphonso wakes up, startled by the roaches, and runs into the hallway where he meets another masked figure. Assuming the figure is Alice, Mr. Alphonso tears off the mask only to discover Mrs. Tredoni, who stabs him in the chest. When Detective Spina arrives, he hears screams, but is too late to save Mr. Alphonso. Later, at the church, Father Tom tells detectives that Mrs. Tredoni is inside and assures them that he can isolate her during communion. During the ceremony, Mrs. Tredoni, still carrying the bag with the knife, pushes forward to be next to Alice at the rail. When Father Tom refuses her communion and asks her to come with him, she stabs him in the neck, causing pandemonium in the church. As the police rush inside, Alice walks away from the altar carrying the bag with the knife. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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