The Challenge from Top 10 Films UK:

The basic idea is: what if you had a magic ticket that transported you into any movie you wished? What films would you want to enter the world’s of?

Stella’s Response:

When I was a tomboy climbing trees a long time ago, I always wanted to be in the old black-and-white 1933 version of Little Women I watched on TV. Katharine Hepburn made such a wonderful Jo: full of spirit, awkward and gawky, liable to outbursts of “Christopher Columbus” when startled, so alive and intelligent. Like Laurie, I wanted to be part of the March family. I wanted to be either Jo or Katharine Hepburn (never quite sure where to draw that line) and live in Concord, Mass. and experience life and write and fall in love.

Prof. Bhaer in that film was not quite what I had in mind, however. Paul Lukas was a very good actor (Oscar-winner for Watch on the Rhine, also in Lord Jim, etc.) and quite professorial, but not husband material, or even boy-friend material, in my 13-year old opinion, and I usually lost interest in the film about the time that Jo moved to New York. And the whole “Beth” thing was terrifying and looming in the not too distant future. Time to go climb a tree…

Fast forward a few (!) years to 1994 and here is another Little Women, with a great cast of mostly younger actresses, including Winona Ryder, Claire Danes, and Kirsten Dunst, and younger actors (Christian Bale, Eric Stoltz), and Susan Sarandon as Marmie. As I watched the film on the big screen, I was immediately immersed in the colorful New England scenery, the March home, the snow, all of it real and inviting.  The script and the pace of the action–all the words I remembered from earlier film versions and the book seemed to be here–and the eccentric and delicate score by Thomas Newman highlighted the special moments I recognized but saw through new eyes, thanks to director Gillian Armstrong. This movie was like a big swimming pool full of everything I wanted and I was swimming away in it, happily. And I was so caught up in my experience of the details of Jo’s life and the March family’s joys and tragedies that I forgot all about the inevitable move to New York.

Was I surprised when Jo looked up from her breakfast in the dining room of her temporary home in New York to discover an intriguing if somewhat subdued gentleman sitting not far away, a handsome, dark-haired presence who caught her eye and nodded amiably? You are damned right I was! Who the heck was that? That was very different from any Prof. Bhaer I had ever seen or imagined or even hoped for! Who was that guy? So unexpected, so gorgeous. And my oh my–what was going to happen to poor Jo?

That “guy” was the Irish actor Gabriel Byrne, known then in the United States primarily for his work in Miller’s Crossing. He would soon be more famous here for a little mystery-thriller that came out of nowhere a year later: The Usual Suspects. And now we know him for all sorts of films and a recent television series, In Treatment. But in this version of Little Women, Mr. Byrne slips into mid-nineteenth century fashion and demeanor as though born to it and, in the process, he takes Prof. Bhaer to a whole new level. Educated and intellectually powerful, yes. A philosopher and musician, check. Soft-spoken and charming, got that. Hot and sexy. Wait! That’s not supposed to…

Ah, but it does.

It was a brilliant idea, to add sex and romance to the quiet relationship that Jo and the Professor develop. A meeting of the minds is one thing, and one thing to be cherished and honored. But a meeting of, well, everything–now that is something usually found only in daydreams. And here are Jo and Friedrich, finding it. And I am there. So there.

And now I’m all grown up and Prof. Bhaer turns out to be all grown up, too–a complete human being with the added appeal of intense blue eyes, luscious black hair, and a smile to die for. Oh, yes. I want to be in this film of Little Women and I want to be Jo, no question about it. So long as Gabriel Byrne is my Prof. Bhaer.

To close, here is a fan video by Laura with a decidedly modern take on the good Professor. What a man indeed! Enjoy!

 Gabriel Byrne as Friedrich Bhaer


  1. Kim Serrahn

    Of course thats just one. But to have Mr.B. as male lead well there are so many that come to mind. On this I will have to think long and hard.

  2. Kim Serrahn

    By the way what time should I be up for this. Or should I retreat to bed at all.

  3. I’m with you Kim! I want to be Jo! And Mr B to be, well, Prof B! So where does the queue start? I’ll be right behind you!

  4. Excellent choice of a movie and very well written!
    Jo and the (Bhaer/Byrne) Professor…. Ohhhh
    So romantic!

    • Thanks, Nora. I really loved creating this posting. And the video I put at the very end made me laugh so much. I was whistling that tune all weekend. ;-)

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  6. Kim Serrahn

    Camille. To die without having the man who you truely love beside you,so sad. She gave him up because she loved him so deeply. Yes Camille I think is just one one many . But this is the number one on my list.

  7. Kim Serrahn

    Anna Karenina,Bring up Baby,Dark Victory,Dinner at Eight,Gone With the Wind,Jezebel,The Life of Emile Zola,Prisoner of Zenda,Private Lives of Elizebeth and Essex,The Petrifie Forest,Queen Christina.These are just a few of my favorites. There are more but I would chose these. And if Mr.B. were male lead well so much the better..

  8. iluvcinema

    Good movie and great explanation. I debated whether or not to focus on one film, but I found it too hard.

    • Yes, I now realize that the Challenge was more complicated and that I could have answered all those questions, but I am kinda glad I just went with one. I loved your list. Wasn’t this Blogathon fun?! Thanks for dropping by. :-)

  9. Ooooh, what a treat, Stella! I’d pick Friedrich over Christian Bale’s Laurie any day, too. Gabriel is sooooo swoon-worthy in this… those eyes, that hair, oh my! Lucky Winona that she got to snog him! :D

    • Oh, Ruth. How could I not pick “Little Women”? ;-) And Winona WAS lucky. I wonder if I could have chosen a Gabriel Byrne picture for EVERY one of Dan’s questions? I’m glad I just stuck to the one. Hey, and I really enjoyed your responses. I have to see “Midnight in Paris”!

  10. Trude Elisabet

    I would have been in “Little women” as well. With mr. Byrne as the professor. But there are many other films that I would have a role in also, maybe a comedy, or a film that takes play in France, or somewhere in Greece, or in London.

    • Glad you liked the posting. Let’s see. A comedy with Gabriel Byrne: Trigger Happy. Or Cool World. A film with Gabriel Byrne that takes place in France: The Man in the Iron Mask. In Greece: um, no, can’t think of one. London: Yes! Defence of the Realm. So, Trude. You could still be in your favorite film settings WITH Gabriel Byrne. Except for Greece. Thanks for dropping by!

  11. It’s been awhile since I’ve seen the film but I remember feeling that Jo and Professor had much more chemistry that Jo and Laurie.

    • Absolutely! Much more chemistry between Jo and Friedrich. Laurie was more like family. Jo and the Professor were meant to be…aren’t I romantic!? :-)

  12. Kim Serrahn

    Over the course of the day I made a list starting with the 1930’s of all the movies I saw myself and MR.B. in WOW. It was fun to do and I’m going to put them all in a folder so I don’t have to look for them again.I think everyone should give it a try and see how many you come up with. Go as far back as you would like. You just might surprise yourself……OOOXXX

    • Hey, Kim, you have to share your list! Maybe in the Forum? I think Gabriel would have been a wonderful Robert Conway in Lost Horizon (the 1937 version, of course)–an Irish/English Foreign Minister. He would probably be fine in black and white too although then we would miss those blue eyes…

  13. I haven’t seen this version of the film. I like that you added the videos to help share the look and feel of the film. Wouldn’t be my choice for Houdini’s Ticket, but a classy choice nonetheless! :)

    • Thanks for stopping by! I did not realize that the challenge was to answer ALL of Dan’s questions. I kinda got hung up on that first big one. It is funny how personal these responses were–I liked that a lot. I hope he does another one someday soon.

  14. Bad thing in this movie. He doesn’t come out till 30 till the end

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  16. I’ve seen Little Women couple years ago. Must’ve been nice to be part of the family. Looking at the cast, so many bright actors are in it. Interesting pick :)

  17. It’s okay Stella. I only answered one of the questions too. It was fun even if we didn’t get the rules right? I don’t seem to remember this version of Little Women, but it looks like an interesting place to visit.

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