There are a few things to like about this: the framing and staging is extraordinary, as if George Stevens wanted to reinvent the eye after his war experiences. Some choreography is worth seeing over and over. I have recalled that bit about the window falling down for decades.
The acting is generally very good within the constraints of the cartoonish characters.
Seeing a film of this period set in a real city (other than New York) is quite something as well.
But you have to remember that film audiences had already been exposed to a couple film versions of “Little Women” (one very good) and the more recent “Meet Me in St Louis”, which set the standard for little girl charm.
So, the fact that this is a shameless copy hurts it tremendously. The little girl’s rabbits are even named after the women in “Little Women” as if the writer was ashamed.
But worse is the mawkish sentimentality, the almost comic melodramatic, romantic overtones make this a sad affair. That is because you have to recognise the state of the audience that needed this to reassure themselves that America was the world’s good guy. And that makes the excesses here bittersweet.
Posted in 2005
Ted’s Evaluation — 2 of 3: Has some interesting elements.