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Oh..I love this film. Fair enough that I saw this film before I read
the book, and so will always have this version at heart! Especially
after Lady Catherine de burghs bit!
I liked the BBC version too, Jennifer Ehle reminds me a lot of Greer Garson, but the BBC version was just too stale. It didn't have the sumptuous beautiful nature of this film. You can't compare Laurence Olivier to Colin Firth, you can't! And as for Greer Garson...the most beautiful woman in the world! She outdid Jane by miles.
The witty screenplay, spot on casting and fantastic adaptation of the book make this a version to love.
I don't think that I'm going to be able to accept Keira Knightly....
I was somewhat disappointed when I saw this film. I love classic studio
films and am an avid reader of Jane Austen's works. This movie strayed
far from the wonderful book it was based on. The women's costumes look
like Southern plantation belles during the civil ware instead of English
countryside in the early 1800's.
One thing that this movie does have going for it is the wonderful actors. Olivier shines as Darcy. It is a great cast. I believe the movie would have been much better if it had stuck closely with the novel and stayed true to the costumes of the era. If you want to see a faithful and excellent adaption of this story I would recommend the miniseries starring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle.
The costumes are wrong (hooped petticoats went out before 1800 and didn't come back into fashion until nearly thirty years later), the dialogue is wrong, the plot is wrong, and the characterizations are wrong. I have seen plenty of adaptations of good books to bad movies, but this is definitely in the Bottom Ten. It's always pleasant to look at Olivier, and I've liked Greer Garson in everything else I've seen her in, but this travesty is just too painful to watch. If you want to enjoy P&P, read the book. If you want to see it acted out, watch the Ehle/Firth BBC adaptation, which still isn't altogether right in details, but which captures the times and the story much better. If you want to see hoopskirts, watch Gone With the Wind or The Barretts of Wimpole Street. This movie is quite, quite horrible.
Yes, this version is full of problems -- from the anachronistic costumes (although, as someone else here has pointed out, the story doesn't HAVE to be set in Austen's period)to the spell-out-the-theme dialogue (at one point there's an exchange between Garson & Olivier that goes something like "Pity you're so proud, Mr. Darcy"; "pity you're so prejudiced, Miss Elizabeth"). Yet it shines anyway, mainly because of the performances; while both the leads were at least 10 years too old for the characters, they're both at their best, and their banter is exquisite. Maybe it's best to think of it as a "starter Pride & Prejudice" -- something to turn people on to the novel, or even just other adaptations -- though it's an adorable nugget on its own.
This is one of the many adaptations of the novel "Pride and Prejudice,"
the best probably being the miniseries that appeared on A&E. This one
stars Greer Garson and Laurence Olivier. Garson, of course, is not the
19 that Elisabeth is supposed to be, and any talent that she had as an
actress has long been dismissed for some reason. Though a very popular
star in her day, her work now is very heavily criticized. Greer Garson
was a beautiful woman and a good actress who was at times cast in roles
not quite right for her, no different from any other Hollywood star,
but perhaps it is her tendency toward an austere manner that makes
people hate her so much. She is possibly miscast in this film, and
perhaps she was a limited actress, but I don't see any reason to vilify
Laurence Olivier is drop-dead gorgeous as Mr. Darcy, though he gives very stylized performance that might not be to everyone's taste. The sisters were played by the absolutely gorgeous Maureen O'Sullivan, Ann Rutherford, Marsha Hunt, and Heather Angel. The support players are terrific: Hugh Herbert, Edmund Gwenn, Mary Boland, and Edna May Oliver.
In true Hollywood fashion, there are differences from the book and some historical inaccuracies, but all in all, this is a palatable version of Pride and Prejudice with a great cast.
Had Hollywood refrained from turning Lady Catherine into a sweet approving matchmaker instead of the cold & haughty snob she was written as, this movie would be a perfect 10. Greer Garson was an odd choice for Lizzie Bennett but as always, her acting is so natural and graceful that she wins you over. But the real star is Olivier as Darcy, the only actor who played the role and showed a real familiarity with the character -- probably because unlike Colin Firth (1995 BBC mini-series) and Matthew Mcfyden (2005 movie), Olivier had actually read the book beforehand. Firth interpreted Darcy as sullen; Mcfyden simply lacks any screen presence as a handsome, romantic upper-class gentleman. Olivier sweeps them all aside and shows them what great talent, charisma, and classical training really looks like on the Big Screen!
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen is one of the most popular and
treasured novels in English literature. Although I am not an Austen
fan, I do love this book. I have read it myself twice, once when I was
twelve and again last year when the latest one was released. So really
it is not much of a surprise that quite a few British critics and
viewers are a bit assy when it comes to this Hollywood 1940 version. I
mean, one of Hollywood's greatest reputations is destroying the spirit
of British works. However, when this was made, they wisely called on
British talent to help film it.
Scripted by Sir Aldous Huxley, this version starred the greatest actor of all time Laurence Olivier as Mr Darcy. I would like to say he is the best Darcy, he was really the image I had of him in the book, tall dark, brooding, arrogant and he also added a touch of humour to the character. Sadly, this is one of his more underrated performances. I am sorry about that, because I think it is one of his best, while some go round saying that his performance lacked depth, it was only because he script didn't allow him to! The elegant and classy Greer Garson turned in a very good performance of the spirited Elizabeth Bennet, very much how Lizzie should be (although she DOES NOT pass for nineteen!). If you think about it, who else would really have been better for these roles at the time? The rest of the cast was quite impressive overall, I was particularly impressed by Edmund Gwenn's performance of the dry witted and long-suffering Mr Bennet, I found it very amusing. He was very much how Mr Bennet was in the book. I wasn't really impressed with Mary Boland's portrayal of Mrs Bennet, she just didn't seem to capture the essence of the character, se wasn't nearly as embarrassing nor as selfish as the character should be. I LOVED Melville Cooper's portrayal of Mr Collins. Although no way near as good as David Bamber's performance of him in the 1995 BBC version, it was still utterly hilarious. Edna May Oliver made a memorable and interesting portrayal of Lady Catherine de Bourgh, but was not nearly as chilling nor rude and impolite as she could have been. I was very impressed with Maureen O'Sullivan's performance of Jane Bennet, in fact she was perfect. She really made you feel sorry for her. Other supporting actors, Ann Rutherford as Lydia, Marsha Hunt as Mary, Edward Ashley as Mr Wickham, Frieda Inescort as Caroline Bingley, Bruce Lester as Mr Bingley, Heather angel as Kitty and Karen Morley as Charlotte Lucas all OK in their roles but lacking depth I think. As someone said, this is an Austen sugar coating with no bite.
But don't diss this one, please give it a go. The unfaithfulness of it, and the number of characters is in my opinion unforgivable, but it is worth watching for the performances of Olivier and Garson. On Hollywoods creditable side, it is quite funny. But un-doubtebly, the one to watch is the 1995 BBC version with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I just saw the Nov. 2005 Knightly version, which I liked, and it got me thinking about this old 1940 version I saw on TV two years ago, and in particular the portrayal of Lady Catherine de Bourgh in the 1940 version, which upsets so many who have posted comments here. While the 1940 version presents her differently than the Knightly version (I have not read the book, but judging by the comments here the Knightly version is true to the book), I found the 1940 version of the character more complex and interesting than the rather one-dimensional character she is in the Knightly (and book) version. It is refreshing to find an unexpected wise head of good character salted-away among the mix of buffoons one expects to encounter.
I don't know what the deal was back in 1940, but I suspect most people
still found cinema a sort of brave new world. As such, actors and
directors weren't exactly what you'd expect nowadays. More precisely,
they were horrible. See this after seeing the 2005 version starring
Keira Knightley and you'll change the channel or walk out of the
theatre in less than a minute. The actors look like they're not trying
at all to understand the characters - everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, is
very very bland and has none of the charm of their much younger
counterparts. To put it more bluntly, it's bad acting! There's some bad
directing there as well. There's a scene where some jazz music is
playing in the background. Reality check! Jazz didn't exist back in the
You should skip this and watch the 2005 version straight away, or at least the 1995 one starring Colin Firth. Those first generation actors had no idea what movies are about.
What keeps this at full strength are several elements. Combined with some of the best acting by its secondary actors, which gives this version more depth and color, is the truer connection to the original narrative despite some Hollywoodisms. The biggest mistake made in the later versions and equally by the later popcorn- shoveling audiences is the revisionist misconception that the book was originally geared to be a romance. It's the later versions that go along this flatfooted path and careen very close to being schmaltz and empty-headed. This older version stands tall because it bolsters up the mental games played by the main characters while rarely bowing to conventional expectations. It is much better than the trite, fluffy romance that the newest version is and much more closely resembles a personality jousting which the novel had as its main intent. And to imagine and even suggest that Keira Knightly is in a league with Greer Garson is to believe that vapid staring and lip-pursing are signs of talent.
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