Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Little Women the Movie

I decided the 5 Minutes for Books book club on Louisa May Alcott was the perfect excuse to indulge in a "girl" movie. So I searched my library's on-line catalog to see if I could bring it home for free.

Low and behold I found not one version of "Little Women" but four (and brought home two)!

1. 1933 by Radio Pictures, produced by David O. Selznik. Starring Katharine Hepburn. Winner of the 1933 Oscar for Best Screenplay (Adaptation).

2. 1949 by MGM Pictures. Starring Elizabeth Taylor. Winner of the 1950 Oscar for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Color.

3. 1978 NBC Universal. Winner of 1979 Outstanding Art Direction for a Series. Nominated for 1979 Golden Globe Best Motion Picture Made for TV.

4. 1994 Columbia Pictures. Nominated for 1995 Best Actress in a Leading Role - Winona Ryder.

I watched the 1978 NBC version first.

It's long. REALLY long. I didn't realize it was a mini-series, though that became apparent when I saw the breaks where commercials should have been. The case says it's 194 minutes long (almost 3.5 hours!). Truly over an hour too long.

I also found it hard to disconnect the actresses/actors from other roles they've played. For example:
Honestly, William Shatner as a German professor was just too much for me. Once he came on the screen I just couldn't get into the movie.

The movie as a whole really felt melodramatic to me. I'm all for drama but Beth's death lasted over 30 minutes. It was all a bit much for me.

My recommendation: Skip the 1978 Television movie.

Next I watched the 1949 MGM Version. I'm so glad I watched it last so that its story is what's in my mind!

Once again big-name actresses were used but this time I didn't have any mental connections with them. Other than Elizabeth Taylor, who I didn't really enjoy in this film but more because I don't enjoy the character of Amy.

One detail I found interesting is that the March home in this film is identical to Orchard House. So much so that William (6 years old) wandered in, watched for a few minutes and asked about the house being the one we toured.

Another detail is that they switched Amy and Beth in the age order. Apparently the girl that wanted to use for Beth was younger than Elizabeth Taylor so they just switched them. Annoying, but I can live with it.

Overall I enjoyed this version MUCH better than the 1978 one. But, I think that in both movies the producers/writers try to include too much of the first part of the book and not enough of the second part. Beth seems to take a long time to die but Jo's love for "her Professor" kind of springs out of nowhere.

Now I'm wondering if I should bring home the other 2 movies for comparision. Purely for research purposes of course. Not because I enjoy a girly movie every once in a while. {grinning}

My recommendation: Watch the 1949 version.

What do you think? Which Little Women Movie is your favorite?

*** This post is included in a series on Louisa May Alcott.

4 comments:

Carrie said...

Ok....I'm roaring with laughter over the very IDEA of the 1978 mini series. First off, I was thinking, "Eve Plumb....now that's an interesting idea and I think I'd like to see it." Then I got to the part about William Shatner and I died laughing. Yeah, I wouldn't be able to get into it either. He was meant for one role and one role only.

Wherever HE Leads We'll Go said...

You are too funny! I LOVE the version with Winona Ryder and Susan Sarandon. I own it and watch it at least once a year. Not sure if I saw that first or read the book first (didn't read the book as a kid, but picked it up at the library maybe 8 years ago). From what I can remember, I think it stays pretty true to the book. I think the actors are great, the scenery is beautiful and I just love it (did I mention that?).

Ann said...

I am laughing too at the casting of the 1978 series! WOW! William Shatner? Are you serious? And John De Lancie? I could probably get past the other actors, but there is no way I could get past those two. Although, I might would have to watch part of it just for a laugh! :-)

Lisa writes... said...

William Shatner? For real? Nope, that'd pretty much ruin it for me as well.

I've heard the Katherine Hepburn version is really good. The Elizabeth Taylor movie; is that the one with June Allyson?

Amy: not my favorite character either.

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