During my Little Women marathon so far I have watched 9 different adaptations and it has been a struggle to find an adaptation that is loyal to the books and shows organic development of Amy´s and Laurie´s relationship. I have found only one, that is the 9-episodes BBC adaptation from 1970. I love Amy and Laurie in the books but this series took my Amy and Laurie ship to a whole another level.
The 1970 series is by far one of my least favourite adaptations of Little Women. Wigs look terrible, most of the cast that is mainly British, don´t even try to speak with an American accent and some of the characters are quite different from what they are in the books. Amy and Laurie are a pleasant exception and for me, they are the highlight of this series.
In this 1970´s adaptation, Amy is played by lovely Janina Faye and Laurie is played by Stephen Turner and I did find out that Turner especially was praised for his performance as Laurie and I liked him a lot as Laurie. He might even be my favourite Laurie so far. He is charming and boyish and this film also shows how he loves music and the tricky relationship with his grandfather. This is one of the rare adaptations where Laurie has more chemistry with Amy´s actress than Jo´s (this should be the case in every LW adaptation!) Another one that I can think of is the 1949 version but sadly in that one, Laurie and Amy hardly have any scenes together.
What we do get in this adaptation is an accurate description of Laurie´s and Amy´s time in Europe. The dialogue is close to the books and it also shows the resentment that Laurie shows towards Amy´s good intended advice. Eventually, Laurie does take them and for him, it turns out to be a blessing. I love Faye´s Amy because she has the same spunk that Amy has in the books. A rare combination of being very genuine and at the same time she is someone who enjoys luxury.
Another thing that I love in this adaptation is how it also includes the scene from the books where Amy and Laurie talk about Jo´s professor and wonder how they could help them. In the books, Amy and Laurie became a philanthropist couple who used their wealth to help others. I love Amy and Laurie in the books. To me, they both possessed a certain amount of vanity that none of the other characters had. Love for fashion and nice things and keeping up a good appearance. For me, this scene is very similar to the way I imagined it in my head. Amy is very close with older Mr Lawrence and she walks down the halls like a queen and calls Laurie “My lord” (this part in the book does show that certain level of vanity that they have but it is also rather sweet). Laurie plays the piano (Laurie actually plays a lot of music in this version) while talking to Amy. They hug and you can feel the love and intimacy between the two.
What never fails to annoy me in most adaptations is the way the character of adult Amy is turned either into a notorious bitch or Jo´s rival. When we idolise Jo we tend to completely ignore her faults. Amy and Jo are mirrors of each other both being the most impulsive and argumentative of all the March girls but Amy learns to control her temper unlike Jo and this is the reason why Amy got to go to Europe. We can see child Amy and teenage Jo as rivals fighting over who is the centre of attention but years later when aunt March does choose Amy to go to Europe with her, Jo realises that Amy did deserve it and she only has herself to blame and later on she is grateful that she did not go to Europe with aunt March because then she would not have met her Fritz. After the death of Beth and Jo´s time in New York and Amy´s time in Europe when the sisters meet again, they have both matured enough to see the pettiness of their past behaviour and become very close.
This series also did a good job with Amy, Jo and Laurie re-uniting. Another scene that was very loyal to the books. I´d even dare to say that in this adaptation Turner, Janina Faye and Jo played Angela Down are the most truthful to the characters they play. Amy has the same spunk that Jo has but her vibrant energy and ambitions are different to Jo like they are in the books as well. Re-uniting between the sisters is warm and filled with bittersweet joy because of Beth´s death very much like it is in the books (as much as I love Winona, the 1994 version did a bad job with it).
This adaptation doesn´t go down without flaws either. Janina Faye also plays the child Amy and every time when an adult woman plays 12-year-old Amy, I cringe (same with 2019 film) In these cases, sympathy for Amy´s character usually completely disappears. It is easier to forgive “childish” behaviour for a child Amy than an adult because then the character comes out as a whining adult. Amy does not either fall into ice but into a (fake) pond during the summer. Laurie in this version is extremely likeable but once again he completely lacks the possessive/toxic side of him that came out with his arguments with Jo. I still have not seen an adaptation that would handle it or even show it the way it is described in the books.