My mother would rent this version for me as a little girl whenever I was sick. (This and "Gone with the Wind", which is funny because this movie in a way helped get GwtW made.) I loved Katharine Hepburn, although I must admit that I related more to Beth as a character because I was shy and loved the piano and kittens. Jean Parker will always be the best Beth for me because of how beautifully she protrayed the gentle ways and quiet strength of Beth. (Not that Margaret O'Brien and Claire Danes didn't do good jobs; they both were wonderful as well.)
So when the 1994 version came out, I found myself ready to be quite critical of it, but I found that it was a better adaptation of the book, although not quite as personally endearing. I also think that while Winona Ryder's performance is great, Hepburn captured more of what it truly meant to be Jo. As a friend said to me after we watched the 1994 version, "When Winona Ryder commented on how ugly and ackward she [the character, Jo] was, I had to laugh because she's so petite and pretty." I had no probelm with Ryder being pretty, although she was a bit too petite for the role. My personal opinion is that Hepburn better embodies Jo as a tomboy/feminist icon, as well as letting through those insecurities about being ackward and not feeling pretty without having to actually say it. I also think that Ryder's performance was more than helped by the excellent script she had to work with and the freedom in a more modern culture to explore more of the feminist ideas and struggles that the novel highlighted.
Except for the performance of Margaret O'Brien and the fun of seeing a young, blonde Liz Taylor, I don't care much for the 1949 version. I think June Allyson, while a very good actress, was trying to copy Hepburn's performance too much rather than make the part her own and Meg wasn't a strong enough character in that version.