Not having seen either Little Women or The Women before, I used to get them mixed up. Now, having seen both within a week of each other, then delaying a month before writing about them, they’ll probably remain mixed up. We double-featured this with the free Valentine’s Day screening of The Philadelphia Story at Filmstreams, kicking off their Katharine Hepburn retrospective month.
Civil War-era family drama spanning about a decade, which is why twentysomething Joan Bennett is unconvincing as a pre-teen at the start of the film. Four sisters are growing up while their dad is off at war (he returns alive towards the end), falling in love with the next-door neighbors, dealing with wartime cutbacks, their perfect mom and their forbidding aunt. Ends with three weddings and a funeral.
Rich, sheltered neighbor boy Laurie (Douglass Montgomery) and an energetic Hepburn have a thing for each other, but won’t commit, and he ends up with younger Joan Bennett (women in the painting in Scarlet Street) after a summer together in europe. Hepburn moves to the big city to be a writer, marries older professor Paul Lukas (of Dodsworth and Strange Cargo). Can’t remember much about Meg (I Walked With a Zombie star Frances Dee) – maybe she’s the humble one – who likes Laurie’s tutor. And sweet, artistic Beth (Jean Parker of The Gunfighter and Beyond Tomorrow), who loved to play piano and look after babies sick with scarlet fever, dies of scarlet fever. Won a writing oscar, and Hepburn got best actress the same year for a different movie.
Woman who was supposed to play Aunt March died in the middle of the shoot, so retakes were required. While paging through Chicago Tribune articles to find out whether the movie killed her (it did not), I came across some great headlines: “Woman Dies of Poisoned Food Left by Suicide”… “U.S. Jury Frees Mayor on Rum Charge”… “Twelve Killed, Two Made Blind by Poison Booze”… “Hoodlum Slain as Judges Join War on Gunmen”.