Saturday, August 7, 2021

Haddie's Haven: Little Women Movie Adaptions Review

Hello, Haven Invaders! Well, today's post is a combined review for what is literally my all-time favorite book-to-movie. I am such a Little Women fan, you have no idea! I spent a good year trying to collect all of the film adaptions, some of which I could not find within the US for decent prices. South Korea was the only country to have the 2 oldest versions, in decent condition. Also, one was given to me as a gift.
A fair warning, I will only review the ones I've seen. I try my best to not let my opinions be persuaded by others and I am very honest about my feelings when it comes to most movies. Additionally, I got the information for these films from Google. This said, let's get to the rest of the post!

The post you are about to read was written over the course of two months.

Little Women (1949)
Release date: March 10, 1949 (USA)
Director: Mervyn LeRoy
Color process: Technicolor
Production company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Nominations: Academy Award for Best Production Design (1950), Academy Award for Best Cinematography (1950)

The March sisters -- Meg (Janet Leigh), Jo (June Allyson), Beth (Margaret O'Brien), and Amy (Elizabeth Taylor) -- struggle to make ends meet in their New England household while their father is away fighting in the Civil War. Despite harsh times, they cling to optimism, often with neighbor Laurie (Peter Lawford) as a companion. As they mature, they face burgeoning ambitions and relationships, as well as tragedy, all the while maintaining their unbreakable bond.

My Thoughts: This was the first adaption of Little Women to play on my TV. Remaining true to the ever classic manners of old-time film, I'm sure the filmmakers were cut for time and could only include so much of the beloved story. Yes, June Allyson and Peter Lawford were in their 30s playing the role of 15-year-olds, but June's execution of Jo March rang true to the book. Janet Leigh's Meg was soft-spoken and held together. 
Little Women (1949) is a constant favorite all year-round and one I watch time, and time again.

Fact: I owned a digital copy of this version on Amazon, but I wanted to replace the physical VHS copy I had when I was a young girl. It wasn't until late June (2021) that I finally found a DVD copy within the US.

Little Women (1994)
Release date: December 21, 1994 (USA)
Director: Gillian Armstrong
Nominations: Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role (1995), BAFTA Award for Best Costume Design (1995), Academy Award for Best Costume Design (1995), Academy Award for Best Music [Original Score] (1995), Writers Guild of America Award for Best Adapted Screenplay (1995), Satellite Award for Best Classic DVD (2005)

In this 1994 adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's classic, the March sisters confront growing pains, financial shortages, family tragedies, and romantic rivalries in mid-19th-century Massachusetts. Jo (Winona Ryder) struggles for independence and sometimes clashes with her beloved mother and her sisters Meg, Amy, and Beth. She also contends with their cranky Aunt March, their impulsive neighbor Laurie (Christian Bale), and kindly linguistics professor Friedrich Bhaer (Gabriel Byrne).

My Thoughts: I fell in love with Winona Ryder's Jo, and Christian Bale's Teddy (Laurie). At first, I couldn't see myself liking the reimagined remake because I wanted to remain loyal to the classic. However, the actors were younger and better suited the roles. Christian Bale was an instant favorite, fulfilling the classic familiarity of Teddy's charm, ringing true to the book. I am still unsure of Susan Sarandon's Marmee, but overall, I do think the 1994 Little Women brings out the best of the story.

Funny story; I bought a used (but very decent) copy of this version from eBay and the following day I went to Wal-Mart and saw it on the shelves, for 50cents less than what I paid online. *smh* xD

Little Women (2018)
Release date: September 28, 2018 (USA)
Director: Clare Niederpruem
Producers: Lucas Grabeel, Kristi Shimek, Maclain Nelson, Stephen Shimek, David M. Wulf, Brent Geisler

From girls playing in the attic to women living with purpose, the March sisters -- Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy -- are always committed to supporting one another. When Jo moves to New York to pen a novel, her editor challenges her to write about something much more interesting -- her family. When tragedy brings the siblings back home, sticking together takes on a whole new meaning as Jo tries to comfort Beth when she gets sick.

My Thoughts: The day I prepared this post is the day after I saw this adaption (which was a while after I'd seen all the other movies). Brutally honest, I did not know what to expect from a modernized adaption of what is literally my all-time favorite classic story in the world. But I did my best to watch with an open mind. I've seen (and own) all the other film adaptions (with the exception of Katharine Hepburn's Jo, the silent film, and the PBS miniseries) and I definitely have my top favorite in Greta Gerwig's Little Women. Christian Bale was my favorite Laurie for many years before T.C. popped up.

I was very surprised to see Stuart Edge play the role of Brooke, I think he did a good job overall. Lucas Grabeel kept the classic warm, playfulness of Laurie's charm. It was very hard not to see him as "Ryan" from HSM, but he's always been an amazing actor. Sarah Davenport's  Jo was ... loud and expressive. Nailed the tomboy, mildly anti-social writer attic. Allie Jennings portrayed Beth really well, I don't have many complaints.

There was definitely something missing, but overall, I did enjoy this version. I was looking for something different to watch, that's what I got. This version is not the greatest, but I would watch it again if I felt like it.

Fact: I bought a digital copy of this version on the Vudu app when it was on a major SALE price. Ended up getting the physical DVD a week later from eBay. 

Greta Gerwig's Little Women (2019)
Release date: December 25, 2019 (USA)
Director: Greta Gerwig

In the years after the Civil War, Jo March lives in New York and makes her living as a writer, while her sister Amy studies painting in Paris. Amy has a chance encounter with Theodore, a childhood crush who proposed to Jo but was ultimately rejected. Their oldest sibling, Meg, is married to a schoolteacher, while shy sister Beth develops a devastating illness that brings the family back together.

My Thoughts: Never did I think another remake of the classic Little Women could March its way to the top of my favorites list. Greta Gerwig won me over, and I like how the movie can be enjoyed even for those not familiar with the book. Though I definitely think the book should be read; before or after watching the movie, the book is a must.
I have seen several of Saoirse Ronan's roles (didn't see Lady Bird until after Little Women came out) and instantly knew I had to see her portray Jo March. She did an amazing job. And Timothee Chalamet's Teddy? Never thought anyone could beat Christian Bale, that's all I have to say.

The showing of the two timelines was so well played. Emotions were bittersweet as happiness and sadness walked parallel to each other. I do think Pugh's Amy was not quite what I hoped to see; the deep, husky tone wasn't quite the prim, ladylike manner of the Amy March I imagined.

This film has all the feels and brings tears to my eyes without fail. 

Fact: This is the only movie I did not purchase myself. My sister gave it to me for my birthday back in 2020. When she said she was sending me something she knew I really wanted, I knew IMMEDIATELY what she was getting.

Little Women (1933)
Initial release: November 16, 1933 (New York)
Director: George Cukor
Production Company: RKO Radio Pictures

The endearing saga of the March sisters -- Meg (Frances Dee), Jo (Katharine Hepburn), Amy, and Beth -- who come of age in New England during the Civil War, is based on the classic Louisa May Alcott novel. With Mr. March away fighting for the Union cause, the girls and their beloved mother, Marmee (Spring Byington), manage to keep their spirits up through dire economic and emotional crises, until Jo's literary aspirations and Meg's romance with a teacher threaten to pull the sisters apart.

My Thoughts: This version is the last on my list because it is the last one I saw. I also discovered among the movie trivia that the movie score and script were borrowed by the 1949 adaption. I was surprised, to be honest. But like all the other adaptions, this version brings something different to the table.
Katharine Hepburn definitely played the boisterous, outspoken Jo March. Of course, the 30s had a particular style and to some effect, the acting was slightly exaggerated. 

Fact: I bought this version along with the 1949 version. The eBay seller had them both and they were at an amazing price. Plus, the seller put them in a single package. 
(Review was added on July 30th; it took a full month for this to arrive from eBay lol)

Thoughts overall?: It is very hard for me to not like any of these movies. Each one focuses on a single element of the story and expands on a large scale. If I were to place each one in order of favoritism, 5 being bottom, 1 being top, the list would look like this:
5) 2018
4) 1933
3) 1994
2) 1949
1) 2019

I own a few eBook editions of the book, as well as some retellings from authors I adore. I am thinking about doing a post for those as well. What do you think? Should I do it? 
Comment below if you're interested in seeing that post from me!

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