Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. USA, 1949. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Loew’s. Screenplay by Andrew Solt, Sarah Y. Mason, Victor Heerman, based on the novel by Louisa May Alcott. Cinematography by Robert H. Planck, Charles Edgar Schoenbaum. Produced by Mervyn LeRoy. Music by Adolph Deutsch. Production Design by Cedric Gibbons, Paul Groesse. Costume Design by Walter Plunkett. Film Editing by Ralph E. Winters. Academy Awards 1949.
Second Hollywood adaptation of the classic Louisa May Alcott story is richer in emotional goo than the Katharine Hepburn version but is very lively and heartwarming. June Allyson makes a delightful Jo March, heroine to all and wife to none, who proudly asserts herself a story writer and sets about to change the world with her revolutionary spirit. Her three sisters (Janet Leigh, Elizabeth Taylor, Margaret O’Brien) all await their father’s return from the Civil War and in between hope to heaven that their sister’s boyish ways won’t prevent them from ever making a good marriage. Beautifully photographed in rich Technicolour (the original was in black-and-white), this version benefits from perfect casting and director Mervyn LeRoy’s never pushing the emotional moments too far to be moving (the scene where Jo sells her hair to pay her mother’s train ticket is a twelve-hankie moment if ever there was one).