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USA 1949
Directed by
Mervyn LeRoy
121 minutes
Rated G

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2.5 stars

Little Women (1949)

This chocolate-box rendition of the Louisa May Alcott Civil War coming-of-age novel is generally regarded as inferior to the original 1933 version yet in itself it has its charms. 

Identical in plot to the original version, the writers of that film, Victor Heerman and Sarah Y. Mason are credited here, along with Andrew Solt whilst Sally Benson made an uncredited contribution to the adaptation. The only notable change however is that the character of Beth is made much younger than her sisters, probably in an attempt to resolve the problem of having adult actresses play teenagers for the first half of the film. The script pulls back on the piety of the original but otherwise recycles a good portion of the dialogue. June Allyson holds our attention as the tomboy and proto-feminist, Jo, but lacks the resonance and credibility that Katherine Hepburn brought to the original role (Allyson was 32 at the time whereas Hepburn was 26, the latter in her fourth film whereas Allyson had been making films for over a decade). The rest of the cast also tend to suffer in comparison with Cukor's film with Peter Lawford particularly mis-cast as Jo's would-be suitor.




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