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I remember watching this when it aired on TV lo these many years ago, and it has stayed with me ever since. That in itself is good testament to this adaptation of a novel that was my second Bible growing up.
You have to get past the dated costumes, wigs, makeup, etc. and the 70s-TV production values to enjoy this version, as opposed to the admirable and visually beautiful Hollywood-of-the-90s version with Wynona Ryder.
First of all, Susan Dey is an excellent Jo. She was quite a surprise to me, after knowing her only as David Cassidy's wise-cracking sister on the "Partridge Family". As Jo, she conveys all the character's physical awkwardness and mercurial temper, and is by turns funny and poignant. Meredith Baxter-Birney is an appropriately pretty Meg. Beth is played by Eve Plumb, of "Brady Bunch" fame; she, too, surprised me in a very positive way, particularly in her final scene with Jo at the seaside. Then there's Ann Dusenberry's Amy. I must say, there is a great deal of wisdom in casting a young girl to play the young Amy, instead of burdening one actress with the unenviable task of playing 12 years old, then a sophisticated young woman. Dusenberry's 12-year-old Amy unfortunately brings to mind an overly petulant and over-sized Shirley Temple. Sadly, her grown-up Amy isn't much better. She is definitely the weakest of the sisters.
Old Aunt March is played by Hollywood veteran Greer Garson, and she does not disappoint. Her Aunt March is no crusty fossil of a woman, but rather an elegantly overblown product of her era and upbringing, with foreshadowings of Wilde's Lady Bracknell. Fellow established movie stars Dorothy Maguire and Robert Young turn in dignified, intelligent portrayals of Marmee and Mr Laurence, respectively.
Of the lovers, Richard Gilliland's Laurie seems much too modern and all-American for a character who was reared and educated in Europe. Cliff Potts is a good Brooke, upright without being stuffy. William Shatner's customary hammy style somehow works for Professor Bhaer, but his German accent is anything but convincing.
There are many turns of phrase in the script that are glaringly non-period, and the music Laurie plays on the piano sounds more like Andrew Lloyd Webber than Beethoven. Edith Head, the legendary Hollywood costume designer, did not give her best effort to this production; witness the white character shoes the girls wear throughout most of the mini-series! What on earth was she thinking!
Despite all these flaws, Alcott's story is lovingly and pretty faithfully told, and the overall impression is very positive. I highly recommend this DVD.Read more ›
This is a good T.V. version of "Little Women". It is a little dated now, it has a very 70's feel to it. While it says that William Shatner stars in it, he only appears in the second of the two tapes, and even then not a major character. The rest of the cast are good, especially Jo. But overall, I would only recommend this if you like the period drama genre.
We saw the first part of the film on TV but failed to record. Yet another version of the story set during the American Civil War. Although the main story is of the family and their trails and tribulations, This is s refreshing version well worth keeping and watching time and time again.