Dated beyond belief but with some worthwhile performances
Even though I'm a huge Little Women fanatic, the negative reviews I've come upon for this production had me put off seeing this for years. Well I finally got around to watching part 2--Jo's Story (Meg's story is the first half of this two-part Westinghouse TV production from the early 1950s). Having low expectations really helped a lot. The story starts after Meg is already married and with Aunt March looking for a traveling companion to accompany her friend to Europe, so if you want a complete retelling of the story, look elsewhere. The sets and sound quality are just what you would expect from the era---pretty lousy and even depressing, but this is early TV so cut it some slack. But Nancy Marchand is really a very fine Jo March. She actually looks the part more than any later versions. Laurie is virtually an afterthought since the story focuses on the two romances of Meg and Jo, so that's a disappointment that is born of time constraints. The startling thing to me is that the scenes between Professor Bhaer (Kent Smith) and Jo work so very well here. So stick with the opening 10 or 15 minutes, because once Smith comes into the story, it really picks up steam. These two actors did a great job with newly constructed dialogue that didn't upset the purist in me. Kent Smith is a terrific Professor Bhaer---very convincing and moving in his portrayal. Having said that, go in with really low expectations because with the exception of these two performances, this is definitely just for the most fanatical Little Women fan.
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