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on 26 April 2017
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on 22 May 2017
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on 11 May 2016
Bought as a present turned up on time but there was a crack in the case
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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.
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Based upon Louisa May Alcott's beloved book of the same name, this black and white film lovingly captures its charm. It is also a pretty faithful adaptation of Ms. Alcott's classic. Though there may be a half dozen adaptations, of the three that I have seen this one is, undoubtedly, the best. Its writing deservedly won the Academy Award in 1933 for Best Screenplay Adaptation. It is unfortunate, however, that although the film was also nominated for the Best Picture Award, it lost to "Cavalcade", a largely forgotten, lesser film.
Deftly directed by George Cukor, the film tells the story of the March family, whose patriarch has gone off to fight in the Union Army during the Civil War. Mrs. March is left to raise her four daughters, Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy, in nineteenth century New England. The film focuses on the personal interactions family members have with each other, as well as with their friends and neighbors, in order to create a portrait of an idealized, loving family held together during trying times. It is also a very poignant coming of age film.
The film primarily revolves around the March sisters, with the focus on independent and headstrong Jo, an aspiring writer, as well as a tomboy and second oldest of the four sisters. In addition to the March family, a wealthy neighbor's nephew, Laurie, plays a prominent role in the life of the March family, with a lesser one played by the family's wealthy Aunt March.
This film is beautifully cast, with a luminous Katherine Hepburn perfect in the lead role. As Jo March, Ms. Hepburn captures the essence of this beloved character. Feisty, independent, loving, and intelligent, her characterization of Jo is inspired, though Ms. Hepburn may not have strayed too far from her own persona.
Spring Byington is wonderful as mother to the March daughters, while Frances Dee, Jean Parker, and Joan Bennett are uniformly excellent in the respective roles of Meg, Beth, and Amy, the sisters whom Jo so dearly loves. Douglass Montgomery is superb as Laurie, Jo's best friend, though his painted lips and shadowed eyelids are a bit anachronistic and a style holdover from the silent screen era.
Paul Lukas is endearing as the Professor, Jo's mature love interest. Henry Stephensen is effective as the generous, elderly neighbor, Mr. James Lawrence, uncle to Laurie. Veteran character actress, Edna Mae Oliver, rounds out this superlative cast as cantankerous Aunt March and shamelessly steals every scene in which she appears.
This is a wonderful vintage film that would be a welcome addition to the personal collection of those who love beautifully made, classic films. Bravo!
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on 20 October 2009
Although in black and white, this film adaptation of Little Women is a gem. To me, Katherine Hepburn *is* Jo.
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on 1 January 2010
My daughters enjoyed very much. A lovely way to spend a couple of evenings all together in the family.
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on 25 June 2010
This has got to be the best version of this film. I have wanted a copy for years and can only say I am delighted with it. Katharine Hepburn at her best
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on 16 December 2011
id just like to say my dvd arrived promptly (as is always the case with Amazon)but the sound quality is awful,even with the volume up full i still struggled to understand the words?Little Women is one of my all time favourites and the Kathrine Hepburn version espically....very disappointed!
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on 29 October 2009
This movie is based on the story of novelist Luisa May Alcott who studied under the tutelage of such luminaries as; Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and Margaret Fuller. Little Women is one of her best stories based on her personal experiences as a young woman growing up with three sisters in Concord, MA. This is one of the early literary works Hollywood ever used to make movies and it was great success. This story was used again and again in as many 10 versions including this truly classic made (1933) during the height of Great Depression.

The story is woven around the Civil War era about a family living in Concord, Massachusetts. The family consists of four daughters; Jo March (Katherine Hepburn), Meg March (Frances Dee), Amy March (Joan Bennett), and Beth March (Jean Parker). The story is essentially about the lives of four girls and how they grow up and eventually get married and have their own families. It is a tremendous film about family, and a character study of four little girls. When their father Mr. March (Samuel Hinds) is away as a minister serving at the war front, the mother, Marmee (Spring Byington) takes care of the family. To keep their spirits high while living in poverty, the four girls form a strong bond. Amy is selfish and timid, but Beth is sensitive who practices on her broken-down clavichord. Meg is envious who works as a seamstress, and Jo (a true self of author Luisa May Alcott) is spirited and tomboyish, who dreams of becoming a famous author. The four girls also have a well-to-do Aunt March (Edna May Oliver) who cares them.

Jo is in love with her wealthy next-door neighbor Laurie Laurence (Douglas Montgomery) whose grandfather Mr. Laurence (Henry Stephenson) terrified her for years. To strengthen their friendship, the Laurie invites the girls to a lavish party, at which Meg meets Laurie's tutor, John Brooke. Over the next few months, while Meg is being romanced by John, Jo has her first short story published and Beth overcomes some of her shyness so that she can practice on Mr. Laurence's fine piano.

When mother Marmee leaves her daughters to see her husband in Washington D.C. who was wounded at the warfront. Beth contracts scarlet fever and her fever worsens, and Jo prays that Marmee will return before she dies and tearfully reveals her deepest fears to Laurie: Beth survives and she is reunited with both Marmee and her father. There is a tremendous amount of sorrow for March family, and the sadness that ensues, is splendidly directed by Cukor with great deal of sensitivity. At the end, Beth passes away, Meg marries John much to the dissatisfaction of the family, and Jo spurns the love of Laurie, moves out to New York City to work for a German professor named Bhaer (Paul Lukas). Amy falls in love with Laurie and marries him, and Bhaer falls in love with Jo.

This story is set during Christmas time; hence you may want to add this movie to your Christmas movie list. My favorite scenes are; as a Christmas present, Aunt March gives each of the girls one dollar, which they then decide to spend on presents for their mother; she asks them to donate their holiday breakfast to the impoverished Hummel family. The drama scenes in which the four sisters perform for local children (theses are fun times for the family) is brilliantly directed. Hepburn was only 26 when she made this movie and she was beautiful and very talented: This was captured by one of the best of Hollywood, director George Cukor.

1. Little Women [1949]
2. Little Women [DVD] [1995]
3. Holiday [DVD] [1938]
4. The Philadelphia Story [DVD] [1940]
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