Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Last Night's Movie: Little Women (1994)

My oldest daughter recently saw the musical theater version of Little Women and loved it. She's never been a big Little Women fan -- unlike my youngest daughter, who still talks about visiting the Alcotts' Orchard House in Concord at age 5! -- but she was thrilled by the musical and has played the CD several times since she saw it.

Given how much my daughter liked the musical, I was able to interest her in watching a film version of Little Women. I love them all but thought the Winona Ryder version might appeal to her most. Although I find the movie's feminism a bit over-the-top (the Alcotts were forward-thinking, but the movie ladles it on too heavily), it's a very fine film. More than any of the other film versions, it conveys what it must have felt like to live in an uninsulated house in 1800s Massachusetts. The interior of the March home looks very much as I remember Orchard House. This film is available in a nicely packaged DVD with commentary track. (P.S. She liked it!)

My favorite version, however, remains the Katharine Hepburn film. For me, Hepburn is Jo. It's fascinating to compare how two movies, the Hepburn and Ryder versions, use the same incidents and characters yet have such a different "tone."

I'm also fond of the colorful MGM version starring June Allyson. As a big MGM fan I enjoy the cast, although this movie isn't on the same level as the other two films. An interesting bit of trivia is that it used the same script, theme music, and costume designer as the Hepburn version.

I'd love to see the Susan Dey TV-movie version again. Greer Garson as Aunt March! I'm hoping it will come to DVD at some point. (Update: The TV-movie is now available on DVD.)

Would love to hear from anyone who wants to chime in on their favorite version of Little Women!

2018 Update: I revisited this film via a new digital restoration at UCLA today and had a wonderful experience! I've written a new review with much more detail and ample illustrations.


Blogger Robin B said...

Oh Laura:
Was Richard Gilliland Laurie?

12:07 AM  
Blogger Mrs. Happy Housewife said...

We wore out a tape of the Winona version and had to get the DVD. It's one of our favorite family movies. I first saw it in the theater while pregnant with firstborn. We've seen most of the Little Women film versions and like this one best. My daughter is currently reading the book for school. I'm waiting to see what she thinks of it compared with the movie. The book is so much deeper and meatier. BTW, LMA's journals are very interesting.

4:24 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Yes, Richard Gilliland was Laurie and William Shatner was Prof. Bhaer. :)

8:36 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

I first saw LITTLE WOMEN in a theater while pregnant with my thirdborn (Daughter #2 -- maybe that's why she's such a LITTLE WOMEN fan, grin!).

Daughter #1 is a great reader but her tastes run more toward adventure and mystery than the "cozy family" books I love. I think she's finally going to catch up with the book now. I will make it a point to see out Alcott's journals, thanks for the recommendation!

Incidentally, my cousin has been reading her children Little Pilgrim's Progress and really likes it. I've not been exposed to Pilgrim's Progress other than inside the pages of Little Women and am going to try out this children's version.

8:42 AM  

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