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4.2 out of 5 stars40
4.2 out of 5 stars
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on September 28, 2003
A sweet, charming, non-stop entertainment film. My only regret is that Rossanno Brazzi is in it, but that's okay. This 1949 ACADEMY-AWARD WINNING version of the beloved classic was incredibly done; with a script and cast to die for.
June Allyson plays the tom-boy writer, Jo March ("Look at me! Dying to go fight by father's side, and here I am--sitting and knitting...like a poky old woman."). Allyson never stopped being the character, and is such fun to watch.
Margaret O'Brien plays little Beth March, the frail and sickly child in the family ("We are a lot better off than a lot of people. Orphans, for instance. We have father, and Marmee, and each other."). I cried like a baby in the end of the film, when our poor Bethy dies from Scarlet fever.
Elizabeth Taylor made me laugh out loud so many times in this movie, portraying Amy March ("When one is in Europe, one feels that the dirt there is so picturesque!"). She can't stop eating, and she feels that her nose is unshapley. Hm.
Janet Leigh played Meg March, the most sensible of the girls, and the oldest ("I haven't changed [Jo]! But it's about time YOU had!!"). She is confused by her love for the nasal-voiced Mr. Brookes, and ends up marrying him, in spite of all Jo's begs for her not to.
Lastly, Mary Astor plays Marmee as gracefully as...well, gracefully ("God bless and keep us all."). Sometimes, I wish that she could be my mother too! (no offense, mom).
This film made me laugh hysterically (such as when the girls rehearse a play; or when Jo gets mad at Amy for eating too much), or sob uncontrallably (when Beth dies, and when Jo finds out her aunt is taking Amy to Europe instead of her). I would definitely reccomend this to ALL movie-goers, fans of the book, or fans of anyone in the cast. It is superb.
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on August 30, 2003
"Little Women" (1949) is the delightful coming of age story that follows the exploits of the March sisters, Jo (June Allyson), Beth (Margaret O'Brien), Amy (Elizabeth Taylor) and Meg (Janet Leigh) as they mature from the angst of childhood into their unsuspecting futures as young women of merit and substance. Jo is a tomboy, defying all convention and propriety in her quest to live a life of enchantment and excitement. That excitement leads Jo first into the arms of the very wealthy, Theodore (Peter Lawford), who she rejects, then the penniless, but infinitely better suited, Professor Bhaer (Rossano Brazzi), who eventually wins her heart. This was the second time Louisa May Alcott's novel had been filmed - the first, in Technicolor. As Jo, June Allyson's performance holds up quite well against Katherine Hepburn's indelible original. Allyson is properly pert, plucky and disdainful all at once. She makes the part her own. Mary Astor is tender as Mrs. March. Also in the cast is C. Aubrey Smith, making his final screen appearance as the stoic but loveable Mr. James Lawrence and veteran curmudgeon, Lucille Watson as Aunt March. This is a wonderful tale no matter the age and the acting in this version is perhaps the finest ever realized.
Warner Video gives us an absolutely gorgeous looking transfer. Colors are rich, bold and vibrant. Flesh tones have been nicely balanced. Black and contrast levels are dead on. Only in a few scenes does the transfer tend to lose fine detail. The audio is mono but nicely mixed and fresh sounding. There are no extras.
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on January 17, 2004
I loved the Little Women and after seeing this version I fell even more in love with the book. Although June Allyson wasn't the best Jo I have ever seen she is pretty close the depiction of Beth was magnificent and the version of Meg was beautiful but the star was Elizabeth Taylor's adaption of Amy although she was a little old looking for the roll but you have to admit that no one plays a brat like Elizabeth Taylor it was absoulutley perfect. This movie is a wonderful adaptation of a wonderful book that speaks to men and women of all ages because of it's timeless beauty. I hope that you enjoy this movie as much as I did!
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on October 25, 2003
I like this version (with June Allyson) much better than the Katherine Hepburn (whom I think really *overacts* in her version, often using a forced deep voice that doesn't work at all) or the Wynona Ryder (whom I think really can't act at all...she's just been fortunate to be in some *really* good films) versions. June Allyson is ideal as Jo. She seems like she really was a tomboy as a girl, but yet has a sensitivity that is perfect for the adult Jo. The supporting cast is wonderful too. Elizabeth Taylor is so funny as Amy!
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on July 16, 2002
I know this is a womens' movie but as a guy i really like this film alot. I will skip reviewing the actual story because i'm sure by now everyone in the world has seen this version or the others. However I believe this version is the best. Just check out the cast! You'll never get these kind of actors today never mind a whole lot of them in the same film.Things that i liked most about this film besides the acting was the costumes, the set design and most of all the BGM (background music) I'm a BGM freak. There is no such thing as character (bgm) music anymore. Yes they play music but it is usually the latest tune on the radio but isn't really orchestrated music composed for the film itself. In these older films the BGM reflected each character or tha changing of a scene or mood. The music is suttle but strong, domimate by not over powering. Music helps to tell the story of this powerful drama. This is by far one of the best music scores next to "GWTW". I would just like to see this film put on DVD.
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on March 22, 2002
We bought this movie because our 2 daughters age 9 and 11 absolutely love the book, and love the Little Women that was made more recently with Winona Ryder and Susan Sarandon. We thought that it would be fun to see another version. I had heard that this older version was more lively and true to the time. I couldnt agree more. The scenery was absolutely lovely..the architecture of the homes amazing, and the costumes were fabulous. My girls sat glued to the television, loved the songs, and the way that "Amy" kept making up words. My girls enjoyed the fact that it was so similiar to the RYDER/SARADON video, but had fun pointing out the differences. What a great way to have fun with literature! The girls both read the book first and now are getting to enjoy the videos!. Im so glad that I bought it for them! Elizabeth Taylor is absolutely beautiful in this video, and although June Allison was pretty, she had kind of has an annoying brash way about her. "Made you want to smack her" is what my 11 year old kept saying...Not nice I know...haha Buy this movie for your family!
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on July 21, 2001
I've seen this one, Katharine Hepburn's, Susan Dey's, Winona Ryder's, and one on PBS: this is the OVERALL best one. Previous reviewers have commented on the anachronisms in Winona's by having the little women and Marmee talking feminism, something completely absent from Alcott's book. The only other serious contender, of course, would be Hepburn's version, and indeed, if you read the reviews of that movie, authors state categorically that Kate's is better than June's. If you had asked me about that earlier, I might have agreed with you. However, one night I conducted a "Little Women" marathon, whereby I rented both and showed them back to back. While I would say that Kate is the better Jo (but June is fine too), this 1949 version is better. For one thing, I like the casting better. I knew every woman playing the March sisters as well as Marmee very well from other works. Mary Astor's Marmee, together with Leon Ames as Mr. March when he finally returns from the Civil War, make good solid dependable parents. They were also the parents to Judy Garland's family in "Meet Me in St. Louis", but here Leon doesn't get a hard time from everyone like in that movie. The standout among the other March sisters is Elizabeth Taylor's blond performance as Amy. She brings the right amount of petulance and vanity to the role. Janet Leigh plays a sweet and demure Meg. I've never liked Margaret O'Brien, period, but she's okay here; fortunately, Beth doesn't make it through to the end of the movie, so I didn't have to see more of Ms. O'Brien than I had to. Peter Lawford makes a good Laurie, a good foil to June's Jo. And I was very pleased to see Dr. Baher upgraded to Rosanno Brazzi--now I could finally understand why Jo chooses the German (yes, I know RB is Italian) tutor over rich boy Laurie. By the way, one of my other discoveries from my comparison of the two most famous versions back to back was that the same score was used in both, as was the same screenplay--after all, both MGM. I noticed that the professional reviewer at top complained about this script--well, it's the same one he heard in Kate's too!
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on November 11, 2000
This 1949 classic made such an impression on me as a young man that I have never really gotten over the charm of it. Held up to the Hepburn and Ryder versions, as wonderful as they are, it still sets the standard for excellence.
The cast is perfect: June Allyson as a determined 'Jo', Elizabeth Taylor as a ravishing and spoiled Amy, Janet Leigh as the dependable Meg, and Margaret O'Brien as the fragil Beth.
Peter Lawford makes an ideal 'boy next door' as Laurie and the chemistry with Jo and Laurie is sheer magic. Mary Astor is memorable as Marmee and Leon Ames gives a brief, but noble, characterization as their father. Rossano Brazzi is charismatic as Professor Behr and his scenes with June Allyson are a joy to behold. All of the Alcott sentiment is here, which tugs at the heartstrings, and the scenes with Beth and Laurie's grandfather (Sir C. Aubrey Smith) are about as sensitive and touching as as we have seen on the cinematic screen.
Mervyn Leroy has given us a tapestry of delicate shading in each scene which comes across as a series of priceless paintings all gathered into one portfolio--and technicolor has never looked so good. The musical score adds warmth and cohesiveness to the excellent script. We have here a collection of memorable flashbacks which make it hard for the soul to relinquish. I think that Miss Alcott (the real Jo) would have been very pleased.
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on May 11, 2001
"As filhas de Dr. March" (The daughters of Dr. March - translated in Portuguese) was the very first book I got a hold of. I fell in love with it and tried the video version starring June Allyson (in English of course)...loved it too! Yes, everything, from Jo to Laurie and even the set and the music. This version is much (a thousand times) better than the recent version of "Little Women" starring Winona Ryder (because Winona Ryder was too "soft" for a character like Jo...not to mention that it is annoying to hear Winona speak.) Yes, I think the real Josephine March (Louisa May Alcott) would have been much happier and satisfied with this one...No doubt about it!
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on February 21, 2011
I have seen practically every filmed version of Little Women and I must say that I disagree entirely with the Amazon editorial review. This version is my absolute favorite.

The cast is outstanding. June Allyson, with her tomboy body language and scratchy voice is by far the best Jo I've seen, and that includes Katherine Hepburn's 1933 version(and who doesn't love Hepburn?). But aside from Allyson, the cast boasts a very young Elizabeth Taylor, Janet Leigh, Margaret O'Brien, and Peter Lawford! Liz Taylor is brilliant and perfect as Amy: prideful and snooty, yet eminently lovable. Janet Leigh is the image of grace and young 'lady-hood' as Meg, long before her "Psycho" fame. Always delightful and remarkably genuine for the period, Margaret O'Brien breathes gentle life into Beth.

One of the other wonderful features of the film is that the entire cast is so comfortable with the more antiquated language and the sentimental sensibility of the piece (which in the mouth of Winona Ryder as Jo and even the very talented Susan Sarandon as Marmee in the 1994 version, often seemed out of place and forced). This same group (June Allyson etc.) also did a radio version of the book in 1950 that was also delightful and is available from Amazon and on itunes.

They also stay very close to the original story, which will be greatly appreciated by lovers of the book. I was dismayed at many of the changes the 1994 version made which were very out of keeping with the original and which, in my estimation, the film suffered greatly for. The 1933 version with Katherine Hepburn does stay close to the novel as well, and Hepburn is delightful, though the overall acting style is slightly antiquated and stylized.

I'd love to see a special edition release of this version at some point. With the fabulous and quite famous female cast, I'm somewhat surprised more has not been made of this film over the years, but having just read the Amazon editorial description I'm not surprised. What a shame the reviewer couldn't see what a gem this is!

A wonderful watch, and not to be missed!
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