|Page 6 of 12:||           |
|Index||117 reviews in total|
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
What's a social climbing mother to do when she has all girls, none of
them eligible to inherit a family fortune? Find them all rich husbands,
that's what! The problem is that once an eligible rich bachelor
(Laurence Olivier) moves into their pretty ritzy neighborhood, all of
the other mothers are out to do the same thing. Elizabeth (Greer
Garson) is perhaps the best catch of the five daughters, and when she
catches the eye of handsome Mr. Darcy, a misunderstanding threatens to
keep them apart. She overheard what she felt was a slight against the
middle class girls ogling him, and when he asks her for a dance, she
politely declines. But there's lots of stars to cross in this period
romantic comedy of manners (based upon Jane Austen's most famous novel)
and the clever Olivier has a few tricks up his sleeve.
When your mother or husband is Mary Boland, there's lots of unintentional henpecking going on. Just that voice alone gives the impression of imperiousness as she talks and talks. Moving from the train to Reno (in "The Women") to the English countryside, she is a determined mother, and with daughters that besides Garson include Anne Rutherford, Maureen O'Sullivan, Heather Angel and Marsha Hunt, she has her hands full. Papa Edmund Gwenn (pre-Santa Claus) makes one thing clear to Garson when mama insists she'll never speak to her again if she refuses to marry their wealthy distant relative (Melville Cooper): He'll never speak to her again if she does!
The opulent costumes of the period and witty dialog of the classy kind make this an enjoyable romp into "Downton Abbey" territory. And when Edna May Oliver makes her entrance as Olivier's imperious "great lady" aunt, it's as if Maggie Smith's Lady Violet from that smash PBS/BBC series has taken a step back in time into corsets and bloomers rather than her early 20th Century matriarch. Even in her long two scenes, Oliver is guilty of theft: she steals every moment she is on screen. This is classic movie magic at its best and an absolute must.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
In many ways it is much more entertaining. Besides, this is pre-war
Hollywood. How else can you explain costumes from "Gone With The Wind"
showing up again?
This is Hollywoods version of Pride and Prejudice. Do I have to remind everyone of the hack job they did on "Wuthering Heights"? I didn't think so. Remember, these movies were made by men of little taste(Goldwyn, Mayer, Laemmelle, etc.). They often took classic stories and made them to suit the studio's needs. This was the rule, not the exception.
But with a stunning Greer Garson and dashing Laurence Olivier, who could object. And who but Edmund Gwenn, Mary Bolan and Edna May Oliver could add a little "character" to their parts?
Watch this film, enjoy it, and don't get all caught up in the idea that it's not a faithful adaptation.
9 out of 10
None of the message boards I've viewed on this version have mentioned yet the sheer brilliance that is displayed by Mary Boland as Mrs. Bennett. In 1941 she would have had stiff competition at the Oscars from eventual winner Jane Darwell in "The Grapes of Wrath" or Dame Judith Anderson in "Rebecca", but Ms. Boland still deserved a nomination in what is for me the personification of Mrs. Bennett. She brings all of the selfishness and anxiety the role calls for, but also adds her own comic flavor to the role. Ms. Boland had talent of capturing a comic mania that was unique among actresses. Her lightning delivery with her quivering voice brought the line "Mr. Bennett!" to life in a way that I've never quite seen overcome by any other actress in the role. Alison Steadman in the 1995 version I thought was too angry, and Brenda Blethyn in 2005 was too sympathetic. Mrs. Bennett is to be nothing more than comic relief, and Ms. Boland is great at being the foil of Edmund Gwenn who is also perfect in his role as Mr. Bennett. Alas I cannot say the same for Elizabeth! Poor Greer Garson, while a great beauty, never seemed to capture the girlishness needed, and came off more like Jane Bennet's mother than her younger sister (she was 36 and seven years older than Maureen O'Sullivan at the time). But the rest of characters are all well cast, and beyond the Hollywood corruption of the ending, this is a well-produced version of a classic romance. But see it if no other reason than the splendid performance of Mary Boland.
The costumes are 30 years later, more the Bronte era, but almost a
clownish parody. Oh to have seen it in color!
I'm a BIG Greer Garson fan and all in all I really love this film. It's true, if you're looking for a faithful adapation, look elsewhere, but this film is totally charming in it's own right. Witty, animated and altogether enchanting. Edna May Oliver is a delight to watch, despite the changed ending. But there was a war on, as Garson said later, and sneering at England's class system was not deemed polite, so they made Lady Catherine a lovable old broad instead of a snobbish guttersnipe.
So! Who's up for Bollywood's "Bride and Prejudice" coming soon to a theatre near you? I never tire of the story!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
If you are looking for a faithful adaptation of Jane Austen's wonderful novel, check out the 1995 BBC version, but if you are willing to enjoy a Hollywood historical romance on its own merits, try this one too! Aldous Huxley (author of 'Brave New World') worked on the script for this film, and I think it shows. The scriptwriters managed to modernize Austen's sometimes rather inaccessible English without losing the period flavour, and add some pleasant touches of their own. Greer Garson, an often wooden actress, gives one of her best performances here. As other reviewers have said, the fashions in this movie are Hollywood-style 1860s rather than 1810s, but that doesn't interfere with the story! Apart from that, I always like to see a Hollywood golden oldie where the heroine is unapologetically strong, principled, and witty. I quite enjoyed the added scene where Elizabeth (Garson) beats Darcy (Olivier) at archery! The supporting actors are fine, especially Edmund Gwenn as Elizabeth's father, and the always wonderful Edna May Oliver as Lady Catherine. Small spoiler: Yes, the ending is completely changed from the book, and I didn't think much of it, but a friend who has also read the original said she actually preferred the changed version, where Lady Catherine secretly likes Elizabeth all along, so chacun à son gout!
the wonderful Greer Garson. And just as she later shows in other films, she always has that spark and wit and control of character that convinces you to believe she knows and has it all. Honestly, I have not seen any of the TV or series versions of this book by Jane Austen, but I love the 1940 movie with Garson and Laurence Olivier (a much more handsome man than that of the real character described in the book!). It's hard to resist Garson's characters, pick this one up, you'll love it.
For those who like Victorian nostalgia, this movie is priceless. Keep in mind that the Hollywood of the 1930s-40s was more into light-hearted, romantic movies, not true-grit authenticity or reality TV. This movie has taken the major plot and characters from Jane Austen's novel, but there are embellishments -- the dialogue is subtle yet witty, the costumes are lavish, and there are big-named stars like Laurence Olivier and Greer Garson. Perfect for a rainy or snowy day, curled up in bed. There is very little testosterone here, so this won't be interesting for guys.
Sometimes, when I get depressed with the horrors of this world, I watch this happy film. The acting is terrific and it inspires me over and over again with it's sweetness. No, it doesn't follow the book exactly, but the playful and innocent humor is pure pleasure. No "film noir" this movie, only light.
As it has been many years, I dare say, very many years, since I have
read Pride and Prejudice, my opinion here is tentative until such time
as I have reread it (which may be never, considering how the calendar
advances); nonetheless, it seems to me that this production has
captured entirely the spirit and intent of Miss Austen's satirical
novel. Seeing Pride and Prejudice as a movie, and therefore
experiencing it as a screenplay rather than a novel, I am led to
believe that Jane Austen, in a sense, bridged the theatrical gap in
English letters between Shakespeare and Oscar Wilde. I could almost say
that Oscar Wilde achieved his great success with the otherwise
incomparable The Importance of Being Earnest principally by stealing
Jane Austen's characters and her lines-if not the exact expression
thereof-certainly the comedic, satiric spirit therein. But then,
perhaps I exaggerate.
Greer Garson is an excellent actress, but if I may be so bold, not nearly so pretty as I had been led to believe. It would be boorish of me to point out that she was at the time entirely too old for the role, so I won't. However she is quite handsome in a slightly overbearing way. She has such excellent lines to deliver and the character she plays is so admirable, it would be hard to fail, and indeed she gives a fine performance.
Aldous Huxley, who wrote the screen play, does a nice job of translating Jane Austen's justly celebrated comedic novel of manners to the screen. Huxley was never known for his ability to write dialogue or to create character; his talent lay in ideas and the eloquent expression of same; yet here we have a cinematic triumph, somewhat surprising from the staid author of Brave New World, Ape and Essence, etc., as he effectively molds Jane Austen's nineteenth century witticisms into language designed for the twentieth century screen, sometimes, I must say, without the slightest improvisation.
Darcy, played impeccably by Olivier has a surfeit of pride while Garson's Elizabeth, a spirited and forthright country girl, is understandably prejudiced against such a man. Therefore we have our title, and of course the basis for true love, or at least a lively match. Edna May Oliver as Lady Catherine displays such a wonderful condescension that we are all charmed, I'm sure, or at least subdued. She manages to remind me of both Lady Bracknell from The Importance of Being Earnest and the red queen in Alice in Wonderland, whom of course she played in the indelible production of 1933 that I saw as a child on TV, many years later, of course.
The costumes were quite amusing. The outfit that Lady Catherine wore at the Bennet's-and I say outfit because dress and bonnet and petticoats would hardly do it justice-perhaps I should say, the livery she wore, allowed her to be surrounded, as it were, by her garments so that her long and sour face seemed shrined right in the middle!
Mary Boland as Mrs. Bennet, who had the exciting, yet daunting task of marrying off five daughters, is a treat and obviously enjoyed herself immensely. Edmund Gwenn as Mr. Bennet is quite winning, and much more sophisticated and clever than I had imagined him in the novel (but of course there was the limitation of my youthful discernment). Melville Cooper as Mr. Collins is just perfect, full of well-timed wit and inoffensive bumbling.
This is one of the great classics of the Hollywood cinema, the kind of movie that can be seen again and again with pleasure.
(Note: Over 500 of my movie reviews are now available in my book "Cut to the Chaise Lounge or I Can't Believe I Swallowed the Remote!" Get it at Amazon!)
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I feel that nostalgia has made some reviewers too kind to this inept
picture, but first let me clear a few things out of the way.
Of course the costumes are ridiculous. They look like left-overs from Gone with the Wind. But who cares? This is a movie, not a history lesson.
Of course the actresses are too old for the Bennet sisters. But that is true of most Austen dramas. In Sense and Sensibility, Emma Thompson was 12 years older than Elinor Dashwood but gives a great performance, so nobody noticed. In this movie Greer Garson was 36, but with make-up and soft focus she can easily pass as 10 years younger and the movie never specifies Lizzie's exact age.
Of course this movie is not Jane Austen. But I don't object to that in principle. Film-makers should be free to do whatever is necessary to make a story work on their own terms. If you want the definitive Austen you can always read the book again.
However, this movie does illustrate an old maxim of cinema: it is easier to make a good film out of a bad book than a good one. In a bad book you can take the elements you need and throw everything else away and start again. In a good book, like P & P, all the elements interlock so tightly that if you change one it affects all the others. If you are not careful the whole story collapses. That is what happens here.
Even if you strip away all the subtleties and complexities of the book you are still left with a timeless story. Lizzie takes an immediate dislike to stiff, proud Darcy and thinks he feels the same about her. She is astounded when he proposes marriage and angrily rejects him. Then she learns he is not the cad she took him for. In doing so, she realises her own prejudice and her true feelings for him, but has no hope of ever seeing him again. When she does run into him by accident, her hopes revive but are immediately dashed by the Lydia incident and the disgrace this brings to her whole family. Even when she learns of Darcy's role in the rescue of Lydia, she dare not hope. Then Lady Catherine turns up to berate her. Her refusal to renounce Darcy gives him the encouragement to renew his proposal and the book ends with Lizzie in triumph.
The major problem is how to fit all that into two hours. The movie has to make every second count. Every scene and every line of dialogue has to do a lot of work. This movie doesn't have anything like that degree of focus. I pick a few examples at random.
The initial scene in the shop, and the ridiculous carriage race that follows, set up a rivalry between Mrs Bennet and Lady Lucas that never materialises. It should have been cut altogether (along with Lady Lucas).
Equally time-wasting are the archery scene and the silly business with the music box and the parrot.
Colonel Fitzwilliam is introduced but the movie then omits his only important scene, where he betrays Darcy's role in separating Bingley and Jane. We hear about this later, but we needed to see it.
At Netherfield, we get the scene where Caroline invites Lizzie to 'take a turn around the room' with her, but not the reason for it (she has designs on Darcy and enlists Lizzie's aid as the only way she can get Darcy to even look in her direction). This sub-plot has been omitted, so the incident is pointless.
Meanwhile, the crucial climax of the scene is dropped. Lizzie and Darcy have been discussing peoples' characteristic flaws. Lizzie says: "I see yours is a tendency to hate everyone." He replies: "And yours is to wilfully misunderstand them." This dialogue exchange encapsulates the whole theme of the story. We need it.
We hear Darcy explain about Wickham's attempted seduction of his sister, but not his defence against the accusation that he robbed Wickham of his inheritance.
And so on.
This poor use of screen time means that the whole second half of the story is incredibly rushed. After Lizzie's refusal of Darcy, she returns home to learn about Lydia. A few moments later that is resolved. Then the entire cast turn up at the Bennet home in quick succession and the whole story is wrapped up in an afternoon. Once Lizzie and Darcy have realised their true feelings (which happens too early in the movie) there is no conflict and no real obstacle to their marriage. Even Lady Catherine is trying to promote it.
The screenplay is a mess. It is neither faithful to the book nor effective in its own right. It feels like a random selection of good moments from the book arranged in chronological order. It illustrates the story rather than tells it.
The underlying problem is that Austen's romances are deeply embedded in the social realities of her time. If you fudge them, as this movie does, the story makes no sense. For example, by the standards of the time, Darcy's objections to Bingley marrying into the Bennet family are not without justification. It is Lizzie's realisation of this that starts her process of self-knowledge. That in turn gives her a better appreciation of Darcy and reveals her love for him.
Both characters have moral flaws that they must overcome in order to get together. That is the story. In this movie, Darcy's flaws are minimised and Lizzie has no flaws at all. It is Pride and Prejudice without the pride and without the prejudice.
What's the point?
PS: I have subsequently learned that some of the costumes were left over from Gone with the Wind.
|Page 6 of 12:||           |
|External reviews||Parents Guide||Plot keywords|
|Main details||Your user reviews||Your vote history|