As someone who loves movies it is easy to end up smitten by a movie because of the story especially one as good as Louisa May Alcott's "Little Women". But falling in love with a movie because of the story can lead to skewered opinions and ratings especially when you go searching for information on a movie on the internet. Okay so I am skirting around the issue, when I looked for information on the 1978 made for TV version of "Little Women" I discovered it was rated highly, in fact it was rated as high as the 1994 big screen version and the 1949 version and almost as highly as the 1934 version but I am pretty sure that this rating comes from those who love the story rather than the movie. And I say this because whilst watching the 1978 version of "Little Women" is entertaining it is not without its problems, from feeling choppy to feeling like the casting in places is wrong it has issues.
Now I have never read Louisa May Alcott's "Little Women" but know the story from the various versions which I have now watched and this 1978 TV adaptation is an interesting mix when compared to other versions. There are some changes which I am not sure are truthful to the original prose or poetic licence but whilst with it coming in at over 3 hours and so elaborates on certain elements it feels surprisingly bitty. This is certainly so early on as it tries to set the scene and the storyline jumps around as it tries to establishes the characters and connections.
Now in fairness this version of "Little Women" is a 1970's production and watching it now some 30 plus years after it was released it feels every ounce of a 1970's production. The studio sets are extremely obvious especially those which are supposed to be outside and in a way it made me think of "Little House on the Prairie" in look and design.
But whilst those problems are easy to accept the casting issues are not so easy to let go especially when it comes to Ann Dusenberry who was in her 20s when this was made and despite her best attempts did not come across as a believable 12 year old Amy. But Dusenberry is not the only one which seemed wrong as whilst Meredith Baxter looks much younger than her years still seemed too old to be believable as 16 year old Meg. Of course with the story spanning a few years the aging issues really are only a problem during the first half but never the less despite the actress's best endeavours it doesn't quite work.
But as I mentioned Louisa May Alcott's "Little Women" is such an entertaining story that even when there are some obvious issues with a movie it is still entertaining and that is the case of this 1978 version. Despite the issues mentioned and some I have left out there is still something charming about it even when William Shatner shows up in the second half as Prof. Friedrich Bhaer with an accent which sounds like he has modelled his characterisation on Albert Einstein.
What this all boils down to is that this 1978 version of "Little Women" does have a lot of problems but thanks to the strength of the story and the cast giving it there all it is still an entertaining version of Louisa May Alcott's story.