Another story that must to be read before any film adaptation is watched. This heartwarming book produced three screen versions and one television movie in 1978 (I want to watch that one because all the big 70’s TV stars are in it: Jan Brady, the Partridge Family girl, the mom from Family Ties, and William Shatner!).
Instead of rating the movies, I’m going to share with you the best and worst performances of each character. First up, Josephine March.
Worst Jo – Katharine Hepburn
Before you cry “cinematic sacrilege,” I dare you to watch this movie and enjoy her performance. You won’t. Her campy overacting is awful. I know this film was made closely after the silent era, but please. Aunt March isn’t over acting. Meg isn’t over acting. Get your act together, Hepburn!
Best Jo – June Allyson
June Allyson would have made Louisa May Alcott proud. The story may be named Little Women, but it really is Jo’s story (As it should be, this is a semi autobiographical story about Alcott’s life). June Allyson played Jo perfectly – brash but lovable, headstrong and loyal.
Worst Beth – Jean Parker
Beth is not a psychotic girl. She’s a sweet and caring person, who puts others above herself. Jean Parker played her as a crazy eyed loon. I think she was trying for a far away look in her eyes, but it came off as coo coo.
Best Beth – Claire Danes
Oh. My. Gosh. Is Claire Danes the best crier in American cinema or what? Seeing her cry kills me. Her face gets all red and blotchy, and her tears cascade from her eyes. Heartbreaking. I knew she was dying, but it hurt me to watch her grapple with the illness and her mortality.
Worst Amy – Elizabeth Taylor
Before you think that I’m hatin’ on Liz, read this post. I think she was a phenomenal actress, but this role wasn’t her best. What’s up with the crazy wig? I know Amy is blonde. Why didn’t they get a blonde actress? Or they could have cast her in a different role. I think she would have been a good Beth.
Best Amy – Kirsten Dunst
Can she play a brat or what? I didn’t like Amy in the book, and I always hated it that she ended up with Laurie. Poor Laurie. But I detested this version of Amy. That is some good casting right there, and this is a decade before she complained in an interview about being in the wildly successful Spiderman franchise.
Worst Meg – Trini Alvarado
Honestly, I thought all three Megs were well cast and well acted. Meg is the least featured sister in this story, most likely because she runs off and gets married against Jo’s wishes. I thought they were all equally good, but I had to make a choice…
Best Meg – Frances Dee
It was tough. I think Frances Dee was the best Meg. She played the oldest March with command and grace.
Have you seen any of these films? Which is your favorite?