Saturday, December 24, 2011

Little Women (1949)

Little Women (1949). based on Louisa May Alcott's novel of the same name. The original music score was composed by Adolph Deutsch. The film also marked the American film debut of Italian actor Rossano Brazzi. Sir C. Aubrey Smith, whose acting career had spanned four decades, died in 1948; Little Women was his final film.

This story takes place during the Civil War as Meg, Jo, Amy and Beth live with their mother, while their father serves in the Union Army. Marmee, thinks that it is important in giving to those less fortunate than themselves, especially during the Christmas Holidays.

Amy often complains about the family's lack of wealth and social status, Jo, an aspiring writer, keeps everyone entertained with her stories and plays, while the shy Beth, joins in Jo's productions with an out-of-tune piano. The spirited Jo, strikes up a friendship with Laurie, the grandson of James Laurence.

Later that winter, Jo impresses Mr. Laurence with her effect on Laurie, he invites the March sisters to a ball at his grand home. At the ball, Meg is courted by John Brooke and Jo dances with Laurie, while Amy and Beth view with wide eyes the scene from the staircase. Mr. Laurence, is charmed by Beth, who reminds him of the beloved granddaughter he lost. When he learns that she can play the piano, he offers her the use of his grand piano. The beautiful evening ends in disaster when Amy and Beth overhear a woman and her daughter gossiping about Marmee.

As the weeks pass, Laurie's falls for Jo and she lets him know that she will never marry. Jo, also tries the best she can to stop Meg's feelings for Mr. Brooke. When spring arrives, Marmee receives word that Mr. March has been wounded and sent to an Army hospital in Washington, D.C. Jo goes to her wealthy Aunt March to ask for Marmee's train fare, but quickly leaves after the two have a heated argument. Aunt March comes through for the family, but not before Jo has sold her long beautiful hair to pay for Marmee's trip. Beth becomes ill with scarlet fever and the sisters realize how much they depend on Marmee. Just as Marmee returns, Beth's fever breaks and the family is relieved.

Meg marries Mr. Brooke and Laurie asks Jo to marry him, but she turns him down, telling him that she wants to become a writer. Heartbroken, Laurie leaves for Europe and Jo, moves to New York to pursue her career. While boarding at the home of the Kirke family, Jo meets Prof. Bhaer, who introduces her to the arts.

Prof. Bhaer agrees to read Jo's stories, but Jo is devastated when he criticizes her work. Bursting into tears, Jo tells him that she feels abandoned by Laurie and hurt that Aunt March, who had promised her a trip to Europe, has taken Amy in her place. After consoling Jo, Bhaer advises her to write from her heart and Jo decides to return home. She returns to a nearly empty home, where Jo learns that her beloved Beth is dying and spends the next few weeks caring for her. After Beth's death, Jo begins writing a novel entitled My Beth, which she sends to Prof. Bhaer for his opinion.

Later, Meg, now the mother of twins, breaks the news to Jo that Laurie and Amy are planning to be married. Although, Jo is happy for the couple, she realizes for the first time how lonely she really is.

While celebrating the young couple marriage, Prof. Bhaer arrives with Jo's novel, which he has had published. However, when Laurie answers the door, Prof. Bhaer mistakenly believes that Jo has married Laurie and declines Laurie's invitation to come in. After Jo catches up to, Prof. Bhaer and they fall into each other's arms and Prof. Bhaer proposes marriage, Jo happily accepts.

What a fantastic cast! Everyone has their favorite of the many film versions of the Little Woman classic and this is mine.

Fun Facts:

The basket that 'Margaret O'Brien' carries around in this movie is the same basket that Judy Garland carried in The Wizard of Oz.

The snow in this movie was actually cornflakes.

In the novel, Amy is the youngest sister, but in order to use 'Margaret O'Brien' as Beth, Beth was made the youngest.

One of the three films June Allyson considered her personal favorites of her films.

In the scene where Beth (Margaret O'Brien) tells Jo (June Allyson) that she doesn't mind dying, June Allyson's tears were real. She was so moved by Margaret O'Brien's performance that she was sent home early, still crying, and had to pull over several times on her journey home as her tears rendered her unable to drive.

Peter Lawford and Janet Leigh narrated the trailer.

June Allyson was 32 when she played 15-year-old Jo March.

Rossano Brazzi (18 September 1916 – 24 December 1994). Brazzi was born in Bologna. He became famous with his role in the film, Three Coins in the Fountain (1954), followed by, Summertime (1955), opposite Katharine Hepburn. His other well known films include: The Barefoot Contessa (1954), The Story of Esther Costello (1957), South Pacific (1958), Count Your Blessings (1959),The Light in the Piazza (1962), and The Italian Job (1969).

Brazzi died in Rome on Christmas Eve 1994, aged 78, from a neural virus.


We the Living (1942)
Little Women (1949)
Three Coins in the Fountain (1954)
The Barefoot Contessa (1954)
Summertime (1955)
Loser Takes All (1956)
Legend of the Lost (1957)
The Story of Esther Costello (1957)
South Pacific (1958)
A Certain Smile (1958)
Count Your Blessings (1959)
Siege of Syracuse (1960)
Three Fables of Love (1962)
The Light in the Piazza (1962)
Redhead (1962)
Rome Adventure (1962)
Dark Purpose (1964)
The Christmas That Almost Wasn't (1966)
The Bobo (1967)
Krakatoa, East of Java (1969)
The Italian Job (1969)
Omen III: The Final Conflict (1981)
The Far Pavilions (1984)

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