This is such a difficult film to review. Parts of it are so beautiful, other parts awful. But that is also what the era was like, and this film is very representative of that, even if it is seriously flawed. The eponymous song by Arlo Guthrie certainly was great, and gave a good snapshot of the era. The song is better than the film that was based on it. Still, worth seeing, an historical entry in the "New Hollywood".
An unsung gem of a picture that stands as a testament to the time it was made in. Penn, Guthrie and Herndon took Guthrie's sixteen minute mini opera of a folksong and turned it into a somewhat clever examination of the times and morales of the late sixties. In the end aimless and somewhat pointless but a lot of fun getting there. Guthrie a quite endearing presenceand a great performance by Patricia Quinn as den mom.
An incredible film, and to reply to those of you who consider it "dated" and "messy", wasn't that period messy and confusing in itself? From what I read and saw about it, it seemed to be that way for the people. I wasn't so much into Arthur Penn until watching this film, but now I want to see everything he directed. I think "Alice's Restaurant" is one of the best films of the era and would deserve more praise.
Definitely a child of it's era unfortunately so messy and meandering the real purpose of the point gets somewhat lost along the way. Also havn't never really knowingly heard the song before made things all that much more confusing. Not the quintessential 60's film I was hoping for.