Better Stick With Ryder and Bale's "Little Women" Review

Little Women is a collection of stories about the March family women and how they live, love, and survive during the Civil War. Marmee (Dorothy McGuire) is the kind but firm matriarch who is left to raise her daughters Meg (Meredith Baxter), Jo (Susan Dey), Beth (Eve Plumb), and Amy (Ann Dusenberry) when her husband Jon leaves home to serve as a military chaplain. Meg has reached the age where she very aware of her family's poverty, and she wants to keep up in fashion with her wealthier friends. Jo is completely unconcerned with fashion or marriage. Her dream is to become a famous adventure writer with stories full of suspense, intrigue, and plenty of sword fights. Beth has medical conditions that keep her close to home, but she loves to play her family's old piano. Amy (Ann Dusenberry) is an aspiring artist, but as the youngest of the sisters, she worries constantly about being left out of her older sisters' fun. The movie follows the March girls from childhood to the teen years and their transformation into “little women.”

I grew up with the book Little Women and the 1994 film, and having 2 sisters, it always held a special place in my heart. This version captures the book's squeaky-clean corniness, and as far as adaptations go, it is perfectly fine. Casting for all the March women is great, but compared to the 1994 version, this one falls short. One of the most baffling parts of this adaptation is that William Shatner was cast as Friedrich Bhaer, a snooty but well-meaning German college professor. Shatner's accent needs to be heard to be believed. It is possibly one of the worst accents I have ever heard in a professional film, theater, or TV production. I love Shatner on Boston Legal, but I have no idea what he is doing in this movie. For people who grew up on the book or are looking for clean family-friendly entertainment, I would recommend giving 1978's Little Women a watch, but if given the choice, the 1994 version is much better.


The DVD release has no special features.

"Little Women" is on sale August 14, 2012 and is not rated. Drama, Romance. Directed by David Lowell Rich. Written by Suzanne Clauser, Louisa May Alcott. Starring Ann Dusenberry, Dorothy McGuire, Eve Plumb, Meredith Baxter, Richard Gilliland, Susan Dey.

Rachel Kolb • Staff Writer

I love movies, writing, and breaking into song in public. You can follow me on Twitter @rachelekolb or check out more of my work at


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