TCM screened the '33 and '49 versions during their "Summer Under the Stars" series last month. I watched both for the hundred-eleventy-th time. I love all three of the films, and even bear a grudging fondness for the BBC/Masterpiece Theatre production. Well, when you start with *that novel as source material, you're already halfway to memorable.
I feel the same about another, even greater "source" book: Pride and Prejudice. Another story of sisters; another story of the second-eldest-as-main-draw. There's something I cherish in each Elizabeth Bennet: Greer Garson got her humor; Jennifer Ehle, her smarts; Keira Knightley was closest to the right age of any previous actress, and brought the youthful spark and energy.
And so it goes, with all the Jo's! Katharine Hepburn *was Jo IRL -- the fiercely independent, uncompromising artist. When you know about the actress's life, you understand her Jo all the better.
June Allyson was the tomboyish Jo, starting from her first appearance. She jumps the front gate but falls flat on her face. Then she sticks out her chin, gets to her feet, marches out, & tries again. Successfully, this time.
Winona Ryder struck such amazing chem with Christian Bale's Laurie. After her sisters, theirs is the central relationship in the story, and you bought those two as best friends. Aaaaannnddd...if you agreed with the premise that Jo and Laurie were too alike to end up together at the end, *this is the Jo that almost changed your mind.
Maya Hawke was the right age, and most closely fits the author's initial description: tall, awkward, gangly, "...a girl who was rapidly shooting up into a woman, and didn't like it."
I look forward to watching This Year's Jo, and seeing what side *she illuminates.