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4.4 out of 5 stars
Little Women (1949)
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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on March 17, 2006
This is my favorite version of Little Women despite that fact that they made Beth younger than Amy when it was the other way around in the book. Amy was actually younger than Beth in the book but even with that it is still my favorite movie version and as much as I liked the 1933 Katharine Hepburn version I liked this 1949 version better and I found June Allyson to be a more convincing Jo.
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134 of 152 people found the following review helpful
on November 12, 2000
This version of Louisa May Alcott's classic book, "Little Women," starring June Allyson, Janet Leigh, Liz Taylor and Margaret O'Brien, was the first remake of the film (which originally starred Kathryn Hepburn) and the version that is truest to the book.
The Wynona Ryder film, the third and latest version, was seriously flawed, especially by the inclusion of "politically correct" and contemporary social views like the scene in which Ryder, playing Jo, expresses feminist sympathies to young men in a bar. I've read the book: there's nothing like that in it. In fact, the book is practically a morality play and in the earlier film versions the girls' struggle to improve their characters is portrayed, if somewhat lightly. These struggles, which are necessary to the accurate portrayal of each character and the time in which they lived, was totally deleted from the most recent version.
Both the Hepburn version and the Allyson version use quite a bit of Alcott's original text in the screenplay and characters in both films follow the book almost to the proverbial "T." The Ryder film, on the other hand, is a blatant and successful attempt to "modernize" Louisa Alcott, resulting in a totally inferior production.
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34 of 37 people found the following review helpful
As someone named after Beth from Little Women and having sisters and my family roots on our Mothers side being in Maine, I was a lover of this film from the first time I ever saw it. Thankfully we now have it on DVD and can watch it any time we wish. It is very true to the book authored by a favorite author of mine, Louisa May Alcott.

As a woman I like the book and the movie because of the strength of the March women in an era when most women were expected to live a certain role. I also like how each of the daughters Jo, Beth, Amy and Meg along with the mother who is a widow are all spirited females and not at all wimpy or whiny. Remembering at all times that the story was/is set in Civil War times.

The movie never lags but blends smoothly from one scene to the next. The cinematography has held up well over the decades and the movie doesn't show its age visually. Each of the actors went on to be major successes with some being major stars when the movie was made. Its a movie that is timeless and is a favorite especially during the winter months in out home.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on November 5, 2005
If you want to know what family can mean and should mean, this movie will show you. None of the other four movie versions will do that. This is the one that is true to the spirit of the book. It is also the best movie.

The members of the cast were superb in their roles. Margaret O'Brien gives a definitive performance as Beth. Mary Astor is the Marmee of the novel brought to life on the screen. Sir C. Aubrey Smith gives a moving performance as Mr. Lawrence. The scene between him and Beth would make a statue cry. (Unfortunately, this was the last film of his distinguished career. He died six months after the film was completed.)

The 1933 version had Katherine Hepburn but not much else.

The 1971 BBC version with its three and a half hours included more of the book, but the acting was lamentable, and even the BBC departed from its policy of faithfulness to literary works by substituting feminist advice when Marmee advises Meg on her marital problems. (Read this passage in Alcott's book. Its wisdom would save many a modern marriage.)

The 1994 version throws the book away, replaces all the characters with contemporary teenager types and turns Marmee into a radical feminist.

(Note that a novelization of this 1994 movie was published when the movie was released. It is simply the filmscript written into novel form, a hundred pages or so and, like the movie, bears little resemblance to Alcott's novel. Many people read that book, thinking they were reading the 800 page Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. Possibly, this is the version that the Amazon reviewer read. Otherwise, it is impossible to explain his rather bizarre review. There are also abridgments in print. Caveat emptor. Such literary crimes ought to be against the law.)

But whether you care about the book or not, if you want a good family movie, this is it.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on October 6, 2005
I love to read books and I love movie adaptations of books! I saw the 1933 black and white movie adaptation of Little Women that starred Katharine Hepburn as Jo and I think it's a very good movie and she was very good as Jo but then I watched this 1949 color movie adaptation for the first time and I liked it even more than I liked the 1933 movie. This 1949 movie starred June Allyson as Jo and I think this movie is wonderful and while there are a couple of changes like making Beth younger then Amy when in the book Amy is younger then Beth I still felt like it was pretty close to the book and I think June Allyson was a very good Jo and was exactly what I pictured Jo to be like and I also liked Margaret O'Brien as Beth and I think she really captured the sweet, shy Beth from the book. The other Actors were good too, Elizabeth Taylor was a perfect Amy, Janet Leigh was very good as Meg, Mary Astor was a good Marmee and I loved the underappreciated Peter Lawford as Laurie and I also liked Rosanno Brazzi as Professor Bhaer who I think was very convincing as the German Mr. Baher and I very highly recommend this wonderful movie and this DVD to fans of the book! I have seen complaints written that the actors in this movie are too old to be playing the young Jo, Meg, Amy, Beth and Laurie but it is such a beautifully filmed and acted movie that if you get past the age thing you will see that the acting is very good and that it makes up for it and you forget about the ages of the actors but I have also seen the same age complaints written about some of the actors from the 1933 and 1994 versions too and to me the age of the actors is just a minor thing and I don't think the actors looked all that old!
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on January 18, 2004
I wasn't expecting to enjoy this as much as the 1994 version with Ms. Ryder as Jo March--I was surprised. The only slight scarring to this 1949 version of the film was the small appearances of Mr. March, his acting was quite horrible. But, June Allyson does fill the screen with perfection as Jo March. I thought that Margaret O'Brien portrayed a wonderful Beth also. I was very moved to tears when she shook off her shyness to thank the elder Mr. Laurence for the piano. Elizabeth Taylor played Amy March to all her selfish perfection. It was defintitely the most delightful to watch June Allyson though.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on March 21, 1999
June Allyson is fabulous is this version of Little Women. She and the other women (there among a young Elisabeth Taylor) make this one of the best movies ever made, while changing between misery and happiness, the movie never loses its hold on the viewer. It truly captures the spirit of a family going through life, with everything that includes. I recommend it for all to see.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on May 12, 2013
I know this movie has the old fashioned movie look from when it was filmed but it is the only one I've ever seen that is true to the book. It is beautifully filmed, wonderfully cast and acted. Well directed. I know Peter Lawford was pretty much a joke in Hollywood from all the horrible movies he was in but he was a "spot on" Laurie in this. Perfect for the role and he did a wonderful job. Same for June Allyson who made a lot of bad or so-so movies but she was a perfect Jo. Margaret O'Brien, the little professional cryer actress, simply IS Beth - perfect. Elizabeth Taylor managed to convey Amy's vanity and selfishness while showing the changes in her as she gets older. A very believable performance start to finish. I gave the version with Winona Ryder the lowest score you can give a movie on Amazon and it was truly terrible. In that review I refer people to the June Allyson version. You can't go wrong with this one. ALSO, I recently obtained the DVD of this after having owned the VHS version for a long time. The DVD is beautifully restored and really beautiful. I got it on the 4 movie set and it is wonderful.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on November 12, 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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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
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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