Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Little Women Retrospective: An Introduction

Louisa May Alcott:


"And then they realized they were no longer little girls. They were Little Women".

So Springfield barkeep Moe Szyslak so movingly and tearfully read to a group of homeless men from Louisa May Alcott's beloved classic. Never mind that as far as I know these lines are not actually in Little Women itself, Szyslak's reading is so touching you accept it as true.

With that, I begin what I had planned for some time but which the latest film version of Alcott's most celebrated work now brings forward: a Little Women Retrospective.

It's a bit sad that when people talk about 'the old version' of Little Women, they are referring to the 1994 version starring Wynona Ryder and Susan Sarandon as Jo and Marmee March respectively. A few people will mention the 1933 version starring Katharine Hepburn and Spring Byington. Hardly anyone remembers the 1949 version starring June Allyson and Mary Astor, let alone the 1978 television miniseries with Susan Dey and Dorothy McGuire.

Is this fair to have those two adaptations unrecognized? Which version really stands tall and which version should best be forgotten? How do each of them fare against the latest adaptation? How will the 2019 version stack up against its predecessors?

Now, with the Saoirse Ronan and Laura Dern version coming, it is time to look back on the three previous film versions (the television adaptation already having been reviewed for the Summer Under the Stars Blogathon celebration of Greer Garson). Every Tuesday for the next three weeks I will look at a past Little Women adaptation culminating with the 2019 version.

I hope this brief retrospective will be entertaining and enlightening. We begin next week with the first sound version released in 1933, with a concluding essay after reviewing the 2019 adaptation.

Little Women: The Conclusions

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