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Pride and Prejudice More at IMDbPro »

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Passion in a Starched Shirt

9/10
Author: James Hitchcock from Tunbridge Wells, England
21 March 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Jane Austen's novel "Pride and Prejudice" was originally written in 1796/7 but not published until 1813. Most producers of television adaptations have been guided by the latter date and have set the story during the Regency period, although the 2005 film version was set in the 1790s. This film, however, shifts the action to the 1830s or 1840s, that is to say 20 or 30 years after Austen's death. Two explanations have been given for this change. The official one is that the studio, MGM, wished to use more flamboyant costumes than the relatively restrained and simple ones of the Regency era. The other is that MGM had recently made another film set during the early Victorian period and wanted to re-use the sets and costumes. The film was originally intended to be in colour, to which it would have been well suited, but ended up being made in black-and-white because "Gone with the Wind" had used up all MGM's stocks of colour film.

I will not say much about the plot because it is so well-known. The film does, however, differ from the novel in a number of ways. Most of these are fairly minor; whenever a novel is adapted for the screen some scenes will inevitably need to be shortened or omitted altogether if the film is not to become intolerably long-winded. In the novel the insufferable Mr. Collins was a clergyman, here he becomes a librarian, a change driven by the Production Code which forbade unsympathetic portrayals of the clergy. (This piece of censorship would have disappointed the devoutly Christian Austen, who was using Collins to satirise those who entered the priesthood out of mercenary, self-seeking motives rather than genuine religious feelings). The film ends with all five Bennet sisters married or about to be married, unlike the book which ends with only Jane, Elizabeth and Lydia married or engaged.

Perhaps the most significant change is that made to the character of Lady Catherine de Bourgh, in the novel a monstrous old snob and hypocrite but whose personality is here considerably softened, again blunting Austen's satire. She is still a formidable old lady, but is actually sympathetic towards Elizabeth's proposed marriage to Darcy, something which in the book she does her damnedest to prevent.

The film was made in the United States by an American studio, but in the thirties Hollywood was generally respectful towards the British classics so Austen's English setting is kept. (This would not be something we could take for granted today; when Alfonso Cuaron made a film of Dickens's "Great Expectations" he not only switched the action to America but also gave it a contemporary setting). This meant that the cast, most of whom were American themselves, had to put on their best English accents, and most cope well with the challenge, although one or two occasionally slip.

Laurence Olivier, who here plays the proud Mr. Darcy, had the previous year acted in another adaptation of a nineteenth-century classic, "Wuthering Heights". Superficially Heathcliff and Darcy are quite different characters, but both are passionate men, the difference being that in Darcy's case his passion is constrained beneath a formal exterior of manners and breeding. With Olivier's performance one always senses the strong emotions hidden beneath his immaculately starched shirt. With all due respect to admirers of Colin Firth's interpretation, and of Matthew MacFadyen's (if he has any), Sir Laurence is still for me the greatest Mr. Darcy.

As for Greer Garson as the prejudiced Elizabeth Bennet, she is fine if one can overlook the fact that at 36 she is considerably older than the character imagined by Jane Austen (21 in the book). In the early nineteenth century young women were regarded as being well on the way to becoming an old maid if they were still unmarried in their late twenties, like Charlotte Lucas here or Anne Elliott in "Persuasion". Austen would have been very surprised had she known that in the twentieth century her heroines would be played by actresses in their late thirties. The original choice for Elizabeth was Norma Shearer, two years older even than Garson. Emma Thomson was a similar age when she played Elinor in "Sense and Sensibility", but that seems to matter less as the ultra-sensible Elinor is very much an old head on young shoulders. Nevertheless, Garson brings out well Elizabeth's determination and sense of self-respect; we sense that she and Darcy are a fine match for one another.

Maureen O'Sullivan makes a sweet and lovable Jane, even if she is one of those who occasionally let their accents slip. (O'Sullivan is best remembered today for playing another Jane, in the "Tarzan" films). I also liked Edmund Gwenn as Mr. Bennet; the contribution I liked least came from Edna May Oliver as Lady Catherine, although the fault may lie less with the actress than with the changes made by the scriptwriter.

Now that Jane Austen is so firmly established as good box office, it is strange to think that this "Pride and Prejudice" was the first feature film to be based on her work. Stranger still that it remained the only one until the nineties. It is very different from a modern "heritage cinema" adaptation, but as an example of a 1940s romantic comedy it is an excellent one, keeping a lot of Austen's wit and powers of characterisation. 9/10

A goof. We see carriages driving on the right-hand side of the road, but we Brits drive on the left, and did so even in the horse-and-carriage days of the nineteenth century.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Black and white movie good

10/10
Author: Alexandra-Gabriela from Romania
1 December 2014

A sublime black and white film. A film about a beautiful time in which kindness and nobility were mandatory. Purity and arranged marriages and also less hurried were part of the painting that period of time. This movie is great for lovers of classic films. I do not want to reveal the action yet but I can say that it is a movie with a happy ending. I'm excited fashion of the time , attention and habits that everyone must follow. And yet there is something that makes ordinance established to give everything up, love. Is a perfect film for a relaxing evening in the family. I encourage you to watch and I wish you " Enjoy ". Worth seeing.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

I confess -- I don't get it.

5/10
Author: vincentlynch-moonoi from United States
3 July 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I dissent.

I confess, this is the first film since "Zabriski Point" back in 1970 that I can say, "I don't get it!" I haven't read Jane Austen. So I don't have that to back up my lack of understanding of this film. Is this supposed to be a comedy? Or a drama? Or is this simply the most insipid group of characters ever to grace the silver screen? My view shocks me when I look at the cast. Greer Garson is my all-time favorite actress. Laurence Olivier had few peers. Edna May Oliver is one of my very favorite character actresses. Maureen O'Sullivan appeared in many first-rate films. Edmund Gwenn is a gem.

And yet, I found this film "silly". Or was I supposed to? I'm sorry, but I'm giving this film one of the lowest ratings I've ever given any film. "5".

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Okay if you do not expect a faithful adaptation

6/10
Author: cluciano63 from Albuquerque, NM
6 March 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The costumes are so ridiculous, compared to the pretty, simples dresses and jackets generally worn in the country in the early 19th century. Not an empire waist or low bodice in sight.

Greer Garson looks far too old for the role of Lizzie Bennett. MGM was never big on realism, and they do not bother with it here, veering from a classic novel and using their stars, whether they suit the roles or not. GG looks like she could be the mother of some of the younger sisters. . This film was made during the infamous production code, so any remotely interesting remark or scenario from the book have, of course, been left out.

You really have to toss the book out of,your mind and pretend you are watching a historical romance rather than a Jane Austen novel come to life.

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

They caught the essence

Author: misctidsandbits from United States
23 September 2011

It is a given that Hollywood typically over-adapts its films from source, straying by varying degrees, even with classics. Or, maybe it is more noticed there since generally more people have read those. It is also a given for most, that the 1995 A&E series production is truer and best and the all around favorite.

However, that does not negate this adaption. I think I enjoyed it even more after the Firth/Ehle version; that is, even more than I did before. The '95 version sent me back to the book, and enjoyed that. But this is a thoroughly enjoyable film. I prefer it to the Keira Knightley version - absolutely.

There are so many good characterizations here. Greer Garson is a fascinating and skillful Elizabeth, if perhaps a bit over-bold at times. She absolutely sparkles. Hey, Jennifer Ehle was pretty saucy in the part, you know. True - this one is a romp from start to finish.

Olivier is good as Darcy, though not as brooding as elsewhere done. Mr. and Mrs. Bennett are well done. Mr. Collins is choice (oh!). The sisters fit. Edna May Oliver was a great Lady Catherine. The haughty Bingley sister was good. Did feel that Wickham was too straightforward in this, not shady enough.

Yes, Hollywood puts its stamp on things, like over glamorous costumes, rewrites and added scenes, an overall serendipity, etc. This was made at a time when people expected glamor in movies. JUST GET OVER IT. Saw it again recently, and appreciated it afresh. Greer Garson's timing and energy are amazing in this - delightful.

I am glad we have the '95 version for sure, but that does not detract from the enjoyment of this interpretation at all. It's such a great story, I can enjoy a good, if imperfect, interpretation. The question may be whether a true Austen story fan should be affronted by alterations in general or be able to enjoy attempts which capture much of the essence.

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4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

So this is a screenplay based on a dramatisation of the novel . . .

5/10
Author: IridescentTranquility from Lancashire, United Kingdom
11 February 2005

I really don't know where to start or what to start with, but having grown up with the 1995 version I am admittedly prejudiced.

Let's take the costumes. Anyone with a really keen eye will spot that not only are the costumes too late for the period (1850s) they are also totally unsynchronised. In one scene these dresses are accompanied by the sort of bonnets popular in the 1830s. Also, most married women tended to wear little lace caps - Mrs Bennet is never seen in one.

The fact that the titles announced the setting to be "Old England" worried me slightly, and I felt that some of the characters' subtleties were lost. Would Mrs. Bennet really have appeared to keen to marry off her daughters in public? Also, some of her lines seemed a bit contrived e.g. "Five thousand pounds a year and not married. That's the most heartening piece of news since the Battle of Waterloo". Even that should tell anyone who hasn't seen it that Aldous Huxley, as screenwriter, seems to have missed out most of Jane Austen's dialogue. The opening credits also reveal that this is based on a dramatisation of the novel - what's wrong with basing the screenplay on the novel itself?

The carriage race with the Lucases is pathetic, and in no way in keeping with the book. I can't swear to it but I'm pretty sure the Bennets wouldn't have bought tickets to the Assembly Room ball. The structure of the film totally ignored the novel - Wickham is present much too early - and many scenes appear to have been amalgamated or missed out entirely. The Meryton ball and the Lucases party is combined into one occasion, which - surprise, surprise - introduces Wickham's story much earlier than it should. Similarly, the Rosings visit is virtually packed into the one scene, and Lydia's return home is combined with Lady Catherine's visit to Longbourn.

Some of the manners and behaviour seem far too modern for the early 1800s. The waltz was considered improper even in the 1890s because it meant a man and a woman were physically too close together for the standards of the time. Elizabeth also remarks at one point about her "daring underwear" - Jane Austen's Elizabeth never made any comments like that.

Whole chunks of the plot - between leaving Charlotte and Mr Collins and Lydia's elopement - go mysteriously missing. The Bennets never planned on moving house to escape the shame of Lydia's elopement, and Darcy's explanation of Wickham's history comes much later than it should. Contrary to what the film suggests, Lady Catherine was never trying to further Darcy's relationship with Elizabeth - which was obvious from the start - and she never had any control over his money, either.

It's a great film if you want to see a misinterpretation of Jane Austen's story or if you don't take the original story as definitive but if you're looking for a faithful version, try the BBC's 1995 version.

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5 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

This movie did not remain true to a perfect book!

Author: ginafly from Boston, MA
15 January 2002

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is somewhat of a *spoiler,* be slightly warned, but I believe it too vague to really spoil anything... And REALLY, if you have not read the book, you should not be watching the movie, anyway! Get thee to a library!

My main reason for being disgusted with this version of Pride and Prejudice is that it changes the ending for no apparent reason. This is inexcusable! It unnecessarily softens (in fact, reverses) Lady Catherine's reaction to the ultimate outcome of the story. This cheapens said outcome by lessening the general disapproval which would have been present over the social and economic implications of the final outcome. This sappy-sweet false ending essentially contradicts the grave tones of Darcy's reservations throughout the book. It lessens the proven desperation and severity of his love by removing the disapproval of his only elder family member to appear in the book. The ending of the book is honestly happy and wonderful enough without a silly sugar-coating! Appalling! It's almost as bad as Romeo and Juliet openly dating while their parents take tea together! What is romantic about that?

Please, for your sake and Jane's, stick to the BBC/A&E 1995 version. It is long, but perfectly executed.

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7 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Prejudiced certainly. This is nothing to be proud of.

1/10
Author: therealficolley from United Kingdom
14 July 2006

Unspeakable Hollywood dross. Hard to believe that Aldous Huxley was involved in the script. He must have been off his face on Soma at the time.

I'm a big fan of Jane Austen's novels and they can be adapted extremely well (invariably by the BBC) but this was so unbelievable I was compelled to watch it to the end just to see what fresh horrors would be thrown up (and there were plenty).

This would have had the author confined to the couch with an epic fit of the vapours.

To be avoided at all costs.

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7 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Watch the 1995 Version Instead

1/10
Author: maybe43
26 February 2003

Virtually worthless movie version with an old Greer Garson as Elizabeth Bennett and numerous pointless changes (e.g. moved 50 years into the future). Couple this with the usual shortshrift a 2 hour movie gives to its subjects and you have a mediocre effort which really gives incredible weight to that old chestnut: "read the book."

Instead, enjoy the wonderful 5 hour version done in 1995 by the BBC and A&E. It is "without fault"..."Impossible" you and Mr. Darcy say...YOu will think otherwise when you watch it.

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11 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

One of the worst films ever.

1/10
Author: Daniel Robinson (pma97dr@sheffield.ac.uk) from Sheffield England
3 November 2000

Where to start? This film is terrible in so many ways. There's the stupid 'Gone with the wind' costumes, the fact that Darcy is obviously nice from the beginning, the culling of some of the most important scenes in the book,and the worst ending to a film ever. Also this is revoltingly 'olde England', only Americans would have made this. This bears no comparison to the wonderful TV adaptation. Not only one of the worst literary adaptations ever but one of the worst films ever.

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