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Music, Movies, & Miscellany > December Movie Night: Little Womens

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message 1: by Alison, the guru of grace (new)

Alison | 1282 comments Mod
Yes, I said Womens. Because for December, we're going to watch & discuss any of the film adaptations of Little Women out there. Including...

1994--Winona Ryder
Gabriel Byrne
Christian Bale (!)
Claire Danes
Kirsten Dunst
Samantha Mathis
Eric Stoltz
Susan Sarandon

1933--with Katherine Hepburn as "Jo"

1949--with Elizabeth Taylor as Amy
June Allyson
Janet Leigh
Margaret O'Brien
Mary Astor
Peter Lawford

Let's hear your thoughts!



message 2: by Dottie (new)

Dottie (oxymoronid) | 698 comments I think a marathon is in order. Wonder if I can manage to coordinate that! I think I'll give it a try at least. I'll have to find the right day.


message 3: by [deleted user] (last edited Dec 07, 2008 10:38AM) (new)

Yesterday I watched the 1994 version. I remember seeing it in the movie theater, but must have watched it alot at home bacause I seemed to remember so much even though I haven't seen it in so long. It's my generation's LW and I think you can probably see that--not only through the casting (talk about who's who of the mid-90's ) but by the themes they choose to highlight.

I haven't finished the novel yet, but I think the film managed to keep some of the things are truly endearing about the story and are amazingly resonant today. Being happy about what you have instead of longing for things you want. Family and friends who unconditional love. Caring for those who are in need. Patience and humility. Intelligence in the arts.

I was struck by the description of Marmee in the book. Susan Sarandon can hardly be "not particularly handsome". But I feel she was one who fit her role beautifully. Warm, stern, compassionate, commanding, and showing evidence of a sense of humor also found in her daughters. Truly raising girls to be citizens of the world. I also loved how open she was regarding women's issues (like corsets) when for the time that would have been revolutionary. Questioning expectations.

My dvd also had a production design special feature with an interview with the costume designer Colleen Atwood (mostly notably known for her collaborations with Tim Burton). It was interesting to hear why she made some of her choices and things she considering when dressing the characters. The idea that they are people wearing clothes and not "costumes". Highly recommended.





message 4: by Alison, the guru of grace (new)

Alison | 1282 comments Mod
Great post, Meredith! A marathon would be fabulous. Rory/Lorelai would approve!


message 5: by Kristi (new)

Kristi (kristilarson) Meredith, I also watched the 1994 version yesterday. Your comment sums it up perfectly! I think it is a beautiful movie. I like the first part of the book better than the second, and same with the movie. I feel like a lot is skipped in the latter half of the movie. But I feel the actors are all perfect in their roles. I will watch the 1949 version sometime soon, but I don't expect to like it as much.


message 6: by [deleted user] (new)

I was thinking I'd do the '49 next too! I can't wait to compare/contrast.


message 7: by [deleted user] (last edited Dec 10, 2008 07:53AM) (new)

I finished up the '49 version with June Allyson and Elizabeth Taylor this morning. What a difference 45 years makes! The film is very flat--mostly internal shots of the homes, those now quaint painted background drops for any externals. The storytelling was really enhanced by the location shooting in the '94 version. I missed seeing Amy's time in Europe instead of just being told her and Laurie meet in Europe, fell in love, and got married. I will say the March home does look more like the pictures I saw of the actual Alcott home.
www.louisamayalcott.org/rooms.html
But those white walls don't give the warmth and coziness of the '94 version.

It's funny--the scenes from the book they chose to keep hewed very close to the written word. But when they chose to cut something, they cut it out completely. No consolidation or reorder. So we miss out on scenes like Meg going to the fancy ball and Amy burning Jo's book and falling in the ice. And ultimately, these cuts keep us from seeing Meg's envy, Jo's anger, and Amy's jealousy--which are at the heart of the story. We all have petty vices that keep us from living life to the fullest. Moving past them is a part of becoming mature.

And a personal pet peeve--why was Amy so tall if she was the youngest? She looked good but in scenes when she was standing next to Jo I'd swear she was taller. And she looked way older than Beth--who was probably the closest in age to her character. I guess the film makers solved the "older later in the film" problem. But by doing that they sacrificed the first half. And since we're on Amy, I don't know why they chose to change the scene of her at school. Instead of striking her, her teacher lets her go. And then she lies to the schoolgirls. Amy comes across as REALLY unsympathetic. I did not like her AT ALL in this version. I feel it's important to see all the girls at their best and worst moments. That rise and fall is not only realistic but essential.

And finally, why would Transcendentalists have a Catholic wedding?




message 8: by Kristi (new)

Kristi (kristilarson) I'm not even sure I'm going to watch the '49 version after reading your post! I don't mean that in a bad way, but the movie doesn't sound good at all.


message 9: by Karey (new)

Karey (kareyshane) I'm glad to see this thread! I just watched the 1994 version a few weeks ago, sigh...funny thing, I couldn't get my husband to watch it with me. :)

I'm going to make a point of watching some of the others. December is a perfect month for Little Women...s. The Christmas scenes make the season feel all the more cozy to me.

Katherine Hepburn as Jo? I had no idea. And I didn't know there was a version with Elizabeth Taylor in it, either. Where have I been?


message 10: by [deleted user] (last edited Dec 10, 2008 10:23AM) (new)

Well, I'd hate to discourage anyone not to. I obviously was not in love with it. Perhaps going into it with more realistic expectations would help. I will say I might avoid the '33 version unless someone else really loves it. I kinda want to rewatch the '94 version but I already sent it back to Netflix!


message 11: by Dottie (new)

Dottie (oxymoronid) | 698 comments I have watched each of the versions several times over and there are bits of each which I think are far better than the others and there are bits of each which are far and away worse in each of them. the one which I've seen least often is the most recent one but that does not indicate anything other than it has had the least amount of time for me to revisit it.

I'm going to try to do my viewing this weekend. hopefully I will be able to lay hands on all of them at once but if not I'll just start with what I can find and keep searching -- no Netflix in this household -- sigh.


message 12: by Alison, the guru of grace (new)

Alison | 1282 comments Mod
Nice job of comparing, Meredith. I hope to at least watch the '94 adaptation soon.


message 13: by Deborah (new)

Deborah | 283 comments I like the marathon idea myself, because, as Dottie points out, they all have their strengths and weaknesses. And Meredith, I have the answer to the tall Amy question. The evil, stupid studio (I can't remember which it was right now, maybe RKO) cast Taylor as Amy because Amy was the "pretty one." I think, based on her performance in National Velvet, that she would have done a great job as Jo.


message 14: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth (elizabethhte) | 19 comments Deborah wrote: "I like the marathon idea myself, because, as Dottie points out, they all have their strengths and weaknesses. And Meredith, I have the answer to the tall Amy question. The evil, stupid studio (I ca..."

Ah, but according to Laurie himself, Meg was "the pretty one." (Not correcting you, but correcting the studio.)


message 15: by [deleted user] (new)

It still bugs to stew out of me. She was WAY too old.


message 16: by Dottie (last edited Dec 12, 2008 10:13AM) (new)

Dottie (oxymoronid) | 698 comments Yes, and Amy didn't consider herself pretty -- remember that clothespin on her nose? And I believe there were some descriptive comments that led one to think her appearance was not as pretty as that of Meg.




message 17: by Natalie (new)

Natalie | 23 comments I'm so excited: just recently mentioned that I love ALL the film versions - saw Hepburn the other day, fabulous as ever. Must admit that the '94 version was a revelation in terms of Sarandon's feminism: I remember exiting the theater, wondering whether her interpretation - masterful - was shaped by Alcott's intent or current sensibilities . . . reactions?
In grade school, some friends and I used to act out bits on the playground at recess: still remember my lines as Meg . . .


message 18: by Dottie (new)

Dottie (oxymoronid) | 698 comments Natalie -- I believe Sarandon's more modern sounding lines and the modern bent which they gave to the film are actually fairly close to Marmee in real life and Louisa May Alcott's thinking on women and their place as it should be in society -- yes, back in the mid-1800's. As I said earlier, Louisa Alcott was active in a circle of women who advocated women's rights and such so it isn't so far off the mark to think that Mrs March and Jo echoed those ideas. Only strange perhaps after years of loving the earlier film versions.

I watched this 1994 version tonight and enjoyed it more this time around -- even found that I'd forgotten more of it than I remembered -- almost as though seeing it for the first time. I'm not sure where my mind was when I first saw it because I am certain I did see it once. It will grow on me, I think -- and I am a huge fan of Susan Saradon so that helps.


message 19: by Deborah (new)

Deborah | 283 comments Dottie wrote: "Natalie -- I believe Sarandon's more modern sounding lines and the modern bent which they gave to the film are actually fairly close to Marmee in real life and Louisa May Alcott's thinking on women..."
Has anybody seen a film called Iron Jawed Angels? I just put it on my Netflix queue, as two different people recommended it. It's the story of the fight in the early 20th century for women's right to vote. It might be interesting to compare this, the 1994 Little Women and modern feminism.



message 20: by Dottie (new)

Dottie (oxymoronid) | 698 comments Deborah -- I wanted to see that when it came out but never did get to and it fell into that abyss of "films I'd like to see one day" . I think that is a good idea and will check for a copy of it at the local video stores this week.


message 21: by Robbie (new)

Robbie Bashore | 592 comments Hooray--the '94 version will be arriving from Netflix tomorrow. I don't think I watched when it was released, because I hadn't read the book. I think it will be fun!


message 22: by Deborah (new)

Deborah | 283 comments When I went to Netflix to add Little Women 94 and 33, (I've seen 49 a few times) I found this:

Four New England sisters -- tomboy Jo (Susan Dey), responsible eldest Meg (Meredith Baxter), shy Beth (Eve Plumb) and mercurial Amy (Ann Dusenberry) -- are distraught when their father leaves to fight in the Civil War. Under the guidance of their mother (Dorothy McGuire), the girls learn to rely on one another to get through life's challenges. William Shatner and Greer Garson co-star in this adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's classic novel.

It's unrated, which probably means it was made for TV. I didn't order it, but may have to - just to see who Shatner plays!


message 23: by [deleted user] (new)

OMG that's awesome--Laurie Patridge, the mom from Family Ties, Jan Brady and Capt Kirk were all in one version of LW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! How in the world did I miss this!! Hold on...

I just IMDB'd this. Shatner could not be more hilariously cast! I don't want to spoil it for anyone. This was a made for TV--shown in 1978. It was a miniseries so it must have run a couple of nights. I've bumped it up in my queue to #1 and will hopefully get it by next week. Kristi, you might have to join me on this one!


message 24: by Kristi (new)

Kristi (kristilarson) I'll give it a shot, but it probably won't happen until after New Year's.


message 25: by Natalie (last edited Dec 20, 2008 04:49PM) (new)

Natalie | 23 comments Meredith wrote: "OMG that's awesome--Laurie Patridge, the mom from Family Ties, Jan Brady and Capt Kirk were all in one version of LW . . .

That must be a HOOT: can't wait! I love Greer Garson and loathe - the older incarnations of - Wm Shatner, so maybe it'll comes out even.:)








message 26: by Natalie (new)

Natalie | 23 comments Dottie wrote: "Deborah -- I wanted to see that when it came out but never did get to and it fell into that abyss of "films I'd like to see one day" . I think that is a good idea and will check for a copy of it a..."

Did you find it? I'd also like to take a peek . . .


message 27: by Robbie (new)

Robbie Bashore | 592 comments Deb--too funny! The *one* copy netflix has will probably circulate through the entire RGBC!

Just watched the 94 one and it was great! Just like when I read the book, I thought professer Bhaer was great for Jo. Although I actually didn't envision him as handsome as the one in the movie. And they showed Laurie to be just the right amount of shallow!


message 28: by Dottie (last edited Dec 24, 2008 10:41AM) (new)

Dottie (oxymoronid) | 698 comments Natalie -- I still haven't checked and will likely wait till after Christmas now.

I did get my hands on the 1933 Little Women film though and will watch it tonight more than likely.

Happy holidays everyone! and like the little women of the story, we actually broke down and did a tiny bit of shopping so there will be some gifts under the tree, after all!


message 29: by sara frances (last edited Jan 14, 2009 01:24PM) (new)

sara frances (sara_frances) | 36 comments Just a heads up! The 1949 version will be on TCM on Thursday evening!


message 30: by [deleted user] (last edited Jan 14, 2009 04:26PM) (new)

So I finally got a hold of the '78 version of LW. Netflix had to ship it across the country, ha! It's two discs--the first one is 1.5 hr.

It's pretty dated--the camera work leaves a lot to be desired. There are music transitions leading into commercial breaks that made me laugh out loud. Eve Plumb (Jan Brady) as Beth--bless her heart. She can't act her way out of a paper bag. It's all around pretty melodramatic. Fun and silly, but melodramatic.

The brightest spot by far was Susan Dey as Jo. I'd never thought much of her--I love the Partridge Family but it was more of a showcase for David Cassidy. I was too young for LA Law. But I thought she was great! The best one I've seen, no joke. (clarifying statement: I have not seen the '33 version with the phenomenal Katharine Hepburn. I fully understand she probably blows the last statement out of the water) Susan's distinct features play right in to Jo's personality and she has a nice balance of smart, snarky, impatient, and grace. Rave, rave, rave!

So far--not the total train wreck I anticipated but still a pretty limited version.


message 31: by Alison, the guru of grace (new)

Alison | 1282 comments Mod
Interesting comments, Meredith! I know a lot of guys in my generation were in love with Susan Dey!


message 32: by Angie (new)

Angie | 512 comments I just watched the 94 version and loved it. I thought the scenery in it is beautiful. I also thought the movie did a better job of making the watcher want Jo to be with the professor rather then Laurie. And while watching the movie I wanted Laurie to be with Amy. So I had a totally different view then I did while reading the book. I thought there were a lot of great actors in this movie as well. And I love looking at Christien (sp) Bale!




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