The 1933 Little Women, directed by George Cukor, was Miss Hepburn’s fourth film, her third with star billing, and her second with Mr. Cukor. She had begun her career in film only a year earlier at RKO, and would remain with the studio until 1938 with Bringing Up Baby.
Mr. Cukor would direct her again in Sylvia Scarlett (1935), Holiday (1938), The Philadelphia Story (1940), Keeper of the Flame (1942), Adam’s Rib (1949), and Pat and Mike (1952). So it’s no wonder that when Mr. Cukor received his Gala at Lincoln Center, that Miss Hepburn arrived on stage unannounced, sidling up next to him as he spoke and relating that she had been at his bar mitzvah.
Little Women is a gorgeous RKO production, but it’s been in trouble for decades as the OCN began to go to decomp decades ago.
The master from which this Blu-ray has been struck is quite a bit of OCN, with help from two safety fine grains filling in missing pieces.
I’ve not seen it in many years, and having forgotten the opening, thought there might be problems, but nary a bad one in sight. There is one missing frame early on, but it may have always been that way.
The thing to keep in mind as it hits your screen is that the entire first four minutes are dupe from multiple dissolves. Once we get out of dupe, it’s clear sailing, with a nice rise in overall resolution.
The black and white imagery from Henry Gerrard is stunning, and the score, composed by Max Steiner, who had started his career composing scores for silent film, moved into sound in 1929 as the orchestrator for Hit the Deck. His first composer credit arrived one year later. His eightieth film was King Kong, followed by his first for a Hepburn film with Christopher Strong. Apparently, not a lazy orchestrator or composer, Little Women was his one hundred and eighth project.
My advice, just grab a copy.
Image – 4.5
Audio – 5
Pass / Fail – Pass
Plays nicely with projectors – Yes
Worth your attention – 9
Upgrade from DVD – Yes
Slipcover rating – n/a
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