Tag Archives: Claire Danes

Little Women — Official Trailer

The 8th? 15th? 147th? film version of Little Women is headed right at us on Christmas Day, and can there be any doubt that this will be a hugely successful movie? From the trailer, it sounds as if Greta Gerwig has brought this staging of Louisa May Alcott’s mid-19th century novel into the 21st century, for better or worse. Probably for better.

Like (almost) all the previous film versions of Little Women, this one benefits from the talents of its superlative female cast, including Florence Pugh (English) as Amy, Saoirse Ronan (Irish) as Jo,  Eliza Scanlen (Australian) as Beth and Emma Watson (English, but born in Paris) as Meg. Laura Dern plays and Marmee and Meryl Streep plays Aunt March, because of course she does.

The male cast is equally impressive, with James Norton (English) as John Brooke,  and Louis Garrel (French) as Professor Bhaer, and Timothée Chalamet  (USA! USA!) as Laurie. It will be interesting to see what Bob Odenkirk, Saul Goodman himself, does with the role of Mr. March.


Out of the Past  —  Some Earlier Versions


Many people consider the 1933 version of Little Women the best.

The Little Women

Joan Bennett as Amy
Katharine Hepburn as Jo
Jean Parker as Beth
Frances Dee as Meg

Notes

Aunt March was played by the great Edna May Oliver who steals every scene she’s in, as she inevitably did in all her movies.
The German Professor Bhaer was played by Paul Lukas, who was Hungarian.
Joan Bennet was 23 and pregnant when she signed on to play 12-year-old Amy.


The next version came out in 1949, 16 years and one World War later.

The Little Women

Elizabeth Taylor (in a blonde wig) as Amy
June Allyson as Jo
Margaret O’Brien as Beth
Janet Leigh as Meg

Notes

Peter Lawford was Laurie.
The German Professor Bhaer was played by Rossano Brazzi, who was Italian.
Mary Astor played Marmee, but she’ll always be Brigid O’Shaughnessy to me.
June Allyson, 31 and pregnant, played 15-year-old Jo.


The 1978 miniseries was bad beyond belief. Oh, was it awful!

The Little Women

Ann Dusenberry as Amy
Susan Dey as Jo
Eve Plumb as Beth
Meredith Baxter as Meg

Notes

The senior roles were played by movie stars from the 1940s: Dorothy McGuire as Marmee, Greer Garson as “Aunt Kathryn March”, and Robert Young as “Grandpa James Laurence”.
None of the actresses playing the March girls was known to be pregnant while production was underway.
The sisters were played by television actresses who were TV-famous at the time, but are now largely forgotten. Their line readings were pure 1978 California-contemporary and their acting would have been just fine in a community theatre production, if the community was home to fewer than 500 people.
It’s impossible to ignore the cast’s ridiculous wigs.
The whole miniseries looked cheap. The sets, the costumes, and the mediocre performances all but shouted out “Low Budget”.

But there’s really only one thing you need to know to comprehend what a disaster this production was:
The German Professor Bhaer was played by—wait for it—William Shatner.
He’s Canadian, I think.


With its first-rate cast, the 1994 remake is right up there with the version made 61 years earlier, in 1933.


The Little Women

Kirsten Dunst as Younger Amy
Samantha Mathis as Older Amy
Winona Ryder as Jo
Claire Danes as Beth
Trini Alvarado as Meg

Notes

Susan Sarandon played Mrs. March and Christian Bale played Laurie.
The German Professor Bhaer was played by Gabriel Byrne, who is Irish.

Jared Leto Is 47 Years Old

He posted this picture to his Instagram account last week.

And somewhere in a locked room, a portrait of Jordan Catalano has aged terribly.


My So-Called Life
It Gets My Vote as the Best Pre-Golden Age Television Drama Series

My So-Called Life was the Skam of its day. It ran for one 19-episode season way back in 1994-1995, and it was one of the first television shows to develop a passionate online following in those early years of the Internet. Claire Danes starred as Angela Chase and Jared Leto played Jordan Catalano.

Countess Rayanne Graff

The new Countess of Devon, with her husband and in-laws.

The new Countess of Devon, with her husband and in-laws.

Hugh Rupert Courtenay, the 18th Earl of Devon, died last week, making his son, Charles Peregrine Courtenay, the 19th Earl of Devon.

And that made Charles Peregrine Courtenay’s wife, Allison Joy Courtenay, the Countess of Devon.

The Countess may be better known as the former actress A. J. Langer, who played “Rayanne Graff” in the 1990s TV show, My So-Called Life.

Rayanne Graff, in her element

Rayanne Graff, in her element

My So-Called Life, which ran for a single, 19-episode series in 1994 – 95, is still my favourite pre-Golden Age TV show.   I was fanatical about it at the time.   Fortunately, in those early days of the Internet, there were these new things called “listservs,” which let you connect with other people who were as obsessed as you were.

MSCL was screened on Thursday nights.  Between episode re-caps and endless discussions of every tiny detail of what we’d seen the night before—well, let’s just say that I got v little work done on Fridays that season, even though I must have been busy, because my office door was closed most of the day.

Claire Danes, who starred in the show, has gone on to win several Emmies.  Her some-times love interest was played by Jared Leto, who won an Oscar last year, and has apparently found a way to stop aging past 22.  He also leans really well.

But I’m intrigued by two of the other key actors from the show.  The Countess of Devon’s cast-mates on MSCL included both Devon Gummersall and Devon Odessa.

Is that foreshadowing, or what?

My So-Called Life 20th Anniversary

Oh, how I loved this show!  My So-Called Life debuted on 25 August 1994, 20 years ago today.

This was the first time that I became involved w/an Internet community—a group of people who were as obsessed w/something as I was.  It’s standard now, but back then it was all new—the insightful episode summaries, the message boards full of divergent plot and characterization analyses, the shared sense of deep appreciation for something brilliant, but out of the mainstream.

I watch a couple of episodes—there were only 19 of them—every once in a while.  It’s still my favorite pre-Golden Age TV show.

Here’s a Then and Now slide show about the MSCL cast.

Claire Danes (Angela Chase) has had a glittering career, although her current series, Homeland, became unwatchably stupid in its second season.   Jared Leto (Jordan Catalano) just won an Oscar.   (He’s also apparently found a way to avoid aging—he still looks as young and beautiful as he did in 1994.   And don’t you love the way he leans?)

Possibly the most surprising  twist of fate is what happened to A.J. Langer  (Rayanne Graf).  From Wikipedia:

“Langer married attorney Charles Courtenay, styled ‘Lord Courtenay,’ the son of the Earl of Devon, in a civil ceremony in 2004. A formal wedding took place on April 30, 2005, in Los Angeles, California. Upon the death of the current Earl, Langer (who holds the courtesy title ‘Lady Courtenay’) will assume the title of Countess of Devon, and will relocate to the family seat at Powderham Castle. The couple have two children: daughter The Hon. Joscelyn Skye (born January 31, 2007) and a son, The Hon. Jack Haydon Langer Courtenay (born August 2009). In January 2014, Langer and Courtenay permanently relocated their family to London.”

Here’s the crucial Angela Chase/Jordan Catalano hallway scene, w/Buffalo Tom playing “Late at Night” in the background.