In honor of Greta Gerwig’s new film adaptation of “Little Women,” which opens Dec. 25 — and the 150th anniversary, this year, of Louisa May Alcott’s book — I embarked on a movie marathon this month, watching four beloved film adaptations of the book dating from 1933 to the present. When it was over, I found myself wishing to do good deeds, wanting to taste blancmange, yearning for a new silk dress and a trip to Europe — and full of opinions. Here’s how I thought the four films stacked up, in a number of categories important to those of us who love the March sisters.

“Little Women,” directed by George Cukor (1933)

Who’s Jo?

Katharine Hepburn was 26 and making just her fourth film when she played Jo March, but her film persona was already firmly established. Here, she basically tromps around Katharine Hepburn-ing it all over the place — yelling all her lines, dramatically pratfalling, speaking in that inimitable razor-sharp and rapid-fire voice. She doesn’t so much become Jo as force Jo to become Hepburn, and it works, but it’s kind of exhausting to watch. Alas, Jo and Laurie (a very uncharming Douglass Montgomery, exuding a sleepy-businessman vibe) don’t have much chemistry; he mostly looks utterly terrified of her, as well he might.

Random casting fact

Joan Bennett, who plays Amy (quite amusingly, though she looks far too old for the part), entered pop culture decades later with a long-running role on the ’60s-’70s gothic soap opera “Dark Shadows.”

Unusual choices

The whole Jo-Amy rivalry never really emerges in this movie; the book-burning and falling-through-the-ice scenes aren’t included. This movie is about Jo, period. (Though I do want to give a shout-out to Jean Parker’s Beth, who on her deathbed looks like she’s just hurried over from a salon appointment.)

Shining moment

You actually believe this Jo could easily climb a trellis in a hoop skirt.

Overall impression

“A New Sensation of Sheer Loveliness Glorifies The Screen!” trumpeted this version’s original trailer. I wouldn’t go that far; basically, this is a sweet Hepburnfest.

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“Little Women,” directed by Mervyn LeRoy (1949)

Who’s Jo?

June Allyson was in her 30s — really too old for the role — when she filmed this movie, in which she’s basically doing Hepburn Lite and trying too hard. In doing so, she allows the movie to be stolen by Elizabeth Taylor’s delightfully prissy and very funny Amy, who manages to triumph despite having to wear a weirdly pale-orange wig.

Random casting fact

Yes, that’s a young Janet Leigh — years before she famously entered that shower stall in “Psycho” — as sensible Meg. And soon-to-be-Rat-Packer Peter Lawford nervously turns up, weirdly miscast as Laurie. (Apparently, Hollywood was just sitting around waiting for Christian Bale and Timothée Chalamet to be born.) Lawford and Allyson had teamed up just two years earlier for the musical “Good News,” and there’s a moment midway through this “Little Women” where I could swear they nearly burst into song.

Unusual choices

The novel Jo is writing, which is revealed at the end of the movie, is called “My Beth,” and I am here to tell you that an entire novel devoted to the life and death of Beth March sounds … poorly thought-out. (In the novel, “My Beth” is a poem, not a longer work.)

Shining moment

Every scene involving Lucile Watson’s trumpet-voiced, ever-outraged Aunt March. And let’s not forget Rossano Brazzi, the handsome Italian actor playing Professor Bhaer, who, in the movie’s hottest moment, soulfully asks Jo, “Who will sew on my buttons?”

Overall impression

Except for Taylor’s and Watson’s performances, there isn’t a lot to recommend in this version, which feels very similar to the Hepburn one (except it’s in color). It’s purely for the completists.

“Little Women,” directed by Gillian Armstrong (1994)

Who’s Jo?

OK, I’m prepared for a LOT of disagreement here, but I think Winona Ryder is miscast as Jo. She’s giving it her all, and she’s undeniably a talented actor (she’s terrific when perfectly cast, as in “The Age of Innocence”), but her naturally fragile, brittle presence, her tiny frame and delicately girlish voice just don’t fly as reckless, coltish Jo March. It doesn’t destroy the movie, which is gorgeous in almost every respect, but every time I watch it, I wish Ryder had played Meg instead. (So, who would have made a better Jo in 1994? You tell me. Jennifer Connelly maybe?)

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Random casting fact

This is the only one of the four “Little Women” versions I viewed with a double-cast Amy, played as a child by Kirsten Dunst and as an adult by Samantha Mathis. And it’s the movie’s only other flaw: Dunst is so utterly perfect that the movie loses something when she leaves it; it’s as if Amy dies, too. Also, note that Hugh Grant was reportedly seriously considered for the role of Professor Bhaer (ultimately played by Gabriel Byrne) but was rejected for being too good-looking. Go ahead and faint now, I’ll wait.

Unusual choices

I actually kind of love how Susan Sarandon as Marmee is sanctimonious to a fault, prattling on about corsets and violence and self-control. I always laugh at the end, where for a second it looks like Jo just might have a nice, comfortable inheritance with which to live out her days, and Marmee just shuts that right down by passive-aggressively purring, “Wouldn’t this have made a wonderful SCHOOL? What a challenge that would be.”

Shining moment

A cat wears a bonnet in order to play a role in one of the March girls’ plays, and this is perhaps the best thing to happen in any movie, ever.

Overall impression

This was THE “Little Women” movie for a generation; actually, several generations. I was grown-up when it came out, but I loved it then and now. Unlike the first two, it’s filmed not on artificial-looking studio lots but on location (though not the book’s New England; it was mostly shot in and around Vancouver and Victoria, British Columbia), and its loving depictions of changing seasons and changing lives remain a joy. And I would have thought nothing could improve on Christian Bale’s sweetly lovesick Laurie, until …

“Little Women,” directed by Greta Gerwig (2019)

Who’s Jo?

Saoirse Ronan — who’s blond, Irish and in her mid-20s — doesn’t immediately seem like the right choice for the role, but she immediately makes Jo her own. I was sold early on, when Ronan’s Jo runs through a crowded street, all looseness and recklessness and youthful exuberance. Ronan has a way of telling stories with her face that’s uncanny, and you absolutely believe her as a budding writer; her Jo sees everything, making careful mental notes. And her chemistry with Timothée Chalamet’s dreamy Laurie is just right.

Random casting fact

Meryl Streep as Aunt March. MERYL STREEP AS AUNT MARCH. That is all.

Unusual choices

I don’t want to give too much away here, but Gerwig takes a creative (though entirely faithful) approach to the story of the March girls, twisting and turning it in a way that I originally found puzzling but ultimately came to love. The final payoff is perfect.

Shining moment

Chalamet’s abundant and fiercely independent hair in Laurie’s climactic scene, in which he expresses his love for Jo, is magnificent; it’s as if his hair is gunning for its own Oscar.

Overall impression

I’ll have more to say in my forthcoming review, but I loved this movie for so many reasons: its elevation of the relationship between Jo and Amy (wonderfully played by Florence Pugh), its celebration of Jo as a writer, the thoughtful playfulness of the screenplay and its overall glowing warmth. Turns out we did indeed have room for another “Little Women” adaptation. Maybe there’ll be another one, in a few more decades; Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy, it’s clear, will live forever.