This 1933 version of Louisa May Alcott's Civil-War era classic remains the best film version of "Little Women." After all, it offers Katharine Hepburn as Jo March, whereas later versions have offered June Allyson, Meredith Baxter Birney (for TV), and Winona Ryder in her place (Although Claire Dane's deathbed scene in the 1994 version is magnificent). But the entire cast of this film is superb from top to bottom: Joan Bennett as Amy, Jean Park as Beth, Frances Dee as Meg, and Spring Byington as Marmee, with Paul Lukas as Professor Bhaer, Douglass Montgomery as Laurie, and Edna May Oliver threatening to steal every scene she is in as Aunt March.
Hepburn won the Cannes International Film Festival award as Best Actress of 1934, and it seems reasonable to suggest that her performance in "Little Women" helped Hepburn win her first Academy Award for "Morning Glory," which had come out the previous year (much as Diane Keaton was helped by having done "Saving Mr. Goodbar" the same year as "Annie Hall" when she won her Oscar). "Little Women" was nominated for Best Picture that year, because the team behind the camera of this RKO film was equally as strong. The film was produced by David O'Selznick and director George Cukor was nominated for an Oscar as well, although surprisingly none of the actors received nominations. The film's one award went to Y. Mason and Victor Heerman, who most deservedly won for Best Screenplay Adaptation.
This is arguably Hepburn's best performance in her first dozen films, although some dismiss it as being too close to home for the actress. It would be decades before critics decided that when Katharine Hepburn played herself no one could equal her, and "Little Women" certainly foreshadows her later successes. It would be nice if at least the sound on this 67 year old film could be restored, but if you can get past it being in black and white this is the "Little Women" to show your children.