Katharine Hepburn as Jo


Even though only 26, I felt Katharine Hepburn looked too "old" for the role of Jo. She doesn't look at all as if she's in her mid/late teens, even early twenties.

Being the 2nd oldest daughter, Meg was 16 at the start of the book, and Beth (3rd) was 13. This would place Jo at roughly 15.

Not sure why she was cast - only her 4th film - she wasn't yet a big star. Also definitely a case of "over acting" when crying. More suited to stage work, than film.

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Hepburn has already won her first Oscar before filming "Little Women". She was a pretty big star. As far as their ages? Who cares? The story is about the relationships in this family. I think it worked beautifully.

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I agree with you, she might have done a wonderful job, but still, it was a little too much and she looked to old for the part. Even if Meryl Streep could play any part, she doesn't play younger roles than her age , now does she? ;)

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Mary Martin was 47 when she played a little boy.

Katharine Hepburn as Jo seemed plenty convincing to me.

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Actually, Meryl does play younger in all of her recent movies.

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Good gosh, yet another gripe about age-correctness! These are getting just a wee-bit tiresome. But let's see if I can help take Miss Hepburn's "advanced age problem" down a notch or two for those of you who just can't seem to get over it.

This is a film adaptation of the book, right? Certain liberties are bound to be taken in any adaptation from a book. Jo, for instance, is portrayed on film as being old enough to move away and live on her own and even find work writing professionally! And then the love story between her and the 40-ish professor starts. Could Jo be less than 21 years of age for these circumstances to be realistic and socially acceptable? And you're making a big deal out of Katharine Hepburn portraying someone who's a mere five years younger than herself?

Consider June Allyson's age (33) in the remake and then get back with me later on how gawdawful it is for a 26 year old woman to portray Jo March.

The youngest actress playing any of the sisters was 17 or 18 years of age; the other two onscreen sisters were born in 1909 and 1910. What are the odds that the Hollywood machine of 1933 would be able to find teen actresses with enough acting chops to perform as well as Katharine Hepburn, Joan Bennett, Jean Parker and Frances Dee did?

Lastly, Miss Hepburn was probably the best possible casting choice in 1933 because of her rising stardom and box office assets, as well as her ability to play the tomboyish Jo during an era in filmdom when nearly all actresses were almost always cast as either demure or vampish ladies.

I guess my overall tone in this comment will come across as off-putting and I regret that, but it's a creature of my near-exasperation with what I consider to be petty nit-picking; and I was trying to get my points across and I hope I've at least succeeded in that effort.

Okay folks, show's over, nothing to see here!

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It wasn't so much that she was too old, she was just too "Katharine Hepburn" for the role. Not so much if you were a new viewer in 1933, but now, looking back. Her personality as an actress doesn't enable her to disappear into a role that easily.

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This is an old thread, but I have to comment after seeing several filmed versions of the classic "Little Women" and being a lifelong fan and frequent re-reader of the original book, I feel that Katherine Hepburn was born to play Jo!
I don't think she looked too old, because, as in the book, she was quite mature and independent and for example, took short trips to try to get her writing placed with publishers, which would have been very unusual for a girl of her time, as well as later going off to be a governess and try to write in NYC. Also, Jo had a relatively hard life, and they didn't wear makeup and skin renewers in those days(of the book), as well as being a tomboy she wasn't interested in trying to look feminine most of the time! Remember, girls of 16 and even younger during the Civil War were quite often already wives and mothers.
They were not carefree adolescents as many 16-year-olds are in our times, concerned solely with school, school activities and friends, but were raised to know how to run a household and cook, clean, wash clothes, etc. I'm not saying that many girls nowadays are not mature at 16 and also know how to do all those things, but our society's attitudes toward what a teenager is have definitely changed.
Ms. Hepburn embodied both physically and mentally the tomboyish and independent spirit of Jo from the book perfectly, much better than June Allyson or Wynona Ryder did later. Ryder is my second favorite Jo, though. Katherine Hepburn's "Hepburn-ess" worked perfectly for the characterization of Jo, as she was the same type of tomboyish and independent woman. With Ms. Hepburn's performance, as well as the overall quality of the production, this is definitely the superior version of the classic Alcott work.

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All the actresses playing the March sisters are too old for the roles, or at least three of them were. Even more noticeable than Hepburn is Joan Bennett, who at 23 was playing Amy, who is 12 as the book opens. (And Joan Bennett was pregnant when the movie was filmed.) Frances Dee, who played Meg, was 24. Jean Parker, "Beth," was 18 and looked most accurate, as Beth was 13 when the book opened.

But for me, Bennett, as tall as the other adult women, playing the youngest March daughter, a schoolgirl, was the most out of place age-wise.

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It's not her actual age that bothers me as much as the plucked eyebrows and make up. With more natural makeup, she would have looked more like a teen would have in that era. Hollywood in those years felt the need to use glamour makeup on all actresses, regardless of who they were playing.

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She definitely overdid it in this movie. I really like this film, but Hepburn was miscast IMHO.

~~~~~
Jim Hutton (1934-79) & Ellery Queen = 

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