Pride and Prejudice (1940) Poster

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Austen with a sugar coating and no bite
didi-55 December 2004
Jane Austen's novel 'Pride and Prejudice' was probably ripe for MGM adaptation during WWII, even with the inevitable changes and rewrites from what she intended (for example, there are hints of romance for all the Bennet daughters by the end, even Mary).

What's good about it? Mainly the casting - Greer Garson is a feisty and cheeky Elizabeth (and this was more than 50 years before Jennifer Ehle played her in a similar way for BBC TV); Laurence Olivier never looked more attractive or brooded with greater effect than here as Darcy; Edna May Oliver is a memorable and prickly Catherine de Bourgh; Edmund Gwenn and Mary Boland are the Bennet parents; and the other Bennet girls are eye-catching and fun (Maureen O'Sullivan as Jane, Ann Rutherford as flighty Lydia, Heather Angel as Kitty, and Marsha Hunt as Mary).

Austen's barbs and fangs are removed from this adaptation, making it a romantic sugar gloop like many other films of the period. Still, providing you expect this, enjoy what's on the screen. MGM did this kind of thing better than other studios of the time, after all.
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Slightly Rushed
SMK-48 December 1998
This film version of Jane Austin's Pride and Prejudice is generally pleasant to watch. The cast is certainly glamorous and a slight change in the period moved the story into one with fancier costumes to look at. At a few places the plot had to be rushed a little to make it fit into two hours and the ending is also a touch happier than in the novel. Some critics lamented the slightly changed ending but this works actually very well for this medium. The rushed plot elements increase the overall pace but compromises somewhat the credibility of the characters, while the increased pace is at odds with the much more tranquil way of life in days gone by.

Therefore, this is really watchable, but the definite version is the 1995 BBC mini series which is much closer to the novel as well.
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Very Enjoyable (Despite Departures From the Novel)
Snow Leopard20 November 2002
Viewed solely as a movie, this version of "Pride and Prejudice" is quite enjoyable, and has plenty of strengths. Since it was adapted from a stage play that was in turn based on the novel, it is perhaps inevitable that there would be a lot of differences from the original, both in the characters and in the events (plus a few anachronisms). Most of the time, these fit in all right with the story, but it is hard not to feel that it would have been an even better film if they had stayed closer to the original in the later parts. In all honesty, though, none of this prevents it from being a very good movie in its own right.

For the most part, the main story is the familiar one, following the hopes and anxieties of the Bennet family as they look for husbands for their five daughters. Greer Garson might be slightly different from the Elizabeth of the novel, but she is very appealing, and her character is quite effective. Laurence Olivier works very well as the prideful Darcy. Most of the supporting cast also is good, especially Edmund Gwenn as the perpetually bemused Mr. Bennet. It does a good job of illustrating the main themes in the relationships amongst the characters, while also providing many light and humorous moments. It's an entertaining and effective mix that makes it a satisfying movie despite the departures from the novel.
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Not True to the Book - But Who Cares?
dana-green-120 May 2005
This film is really just 'based on' the novel and enthusiastically takes liberties with the costumes, characters, time period, etc. But if you can set aside your expectations of accuracy, and imagine this film as a stand-alone piece, you won't be disappointed. After all, if the basic Pyramus and Thisbe romance can be remade and reworked a hundred different ways, why shouldn't Bennet and Darcy? Aldous Huxley's screenplay is razor sharp, the plot gallops along, the characters are wisecracking and witty, and though I have probably watched this film more often than any other film I own, It still feels fresh and surprisingly modern. Only 'His Girl Friday' can best the deliciously quick dialog Huxley penned for his female lead.
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Wonderful for its time
trpdean13 December 2003
Is the 1995 television version superior? Yes - every historical period is better recreated since Stanley Kubrick took up the reins with Barry Lyndon in the mid 1970s. Lighting, dress, authentic settings, more faithful adaptations - though not better acting. In the last thirty years, we've been treated to the re-making of all that Hollywood and television had adapted from much of Thackeray, Austen, Balzac, Dickens, Eliot, Hardy, James, Wharton, Twain, Zola, DeMaupassant, even Leopardi. and in virtually every case, the movies are more faithful to their books, the spirit better represented.

Why? I think because movies and television have been more segmented. In 1940, Hollywood was appealing to everyone attending their weekly movies - from the 8 year old girl to the 60 year old man, from the miner to the mine owner, banker and sewer worker. In America alone, 90 million people attended the movies EACH WEEK in the early 1940s. As a result, Hollywood felt it had to appeal to all - and that some aspects of classics could be made more palatable in making them more mainstream.

"Horrors" say the purists. Well, I don't think so - but yes I do prefer the more recent version (of everything).

And yet this is a delightful, charming, humorous, moving film. Greer Garson and Maureen O'Sullivan, Laurence Olivier, Frieda Inescourt (what a voice!), Edna May Oliver, Gwenn and all the rest of the cast are fun, great fun to watch.

In watching this movie, you're watching Hollywood at its top at the time - the same studio that produced the Wizard of Oz and Gone With the Wind in the years immediately preceding this. And you get to see the glowing Greer Garson and Laurence Olivier.

So, this is very enjoyable - except to the purists.
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A thoroughly enjoyable movie
richard-178713 January 2015
I haven't read Austin's novel of this name since high school, over four decades ago, so I really have no way of knowing how faithful an adaptation this is.

Nor, frankly, do I particularly care.

If you can divorce the two works and not expect the movie to reproduce the novel, you are left with one really remarkable film.

First and foremost, the script, by Aldous Huxley, no mean novelist himself, is brilliant. I don't know how much of it is borrowed or adapted from Austin and how much is Huxley's clever creation, but it's just plain wonderful. Witty without being nasty or supercilious, it's a joy from beginning to end.

Second, the script's wonderful dialogue is delivered with zest and nuance by great actors, chief among them Greer Garson and Lawrence Olivier. They seem to the manner born - which evidently they were.

Then there is Edna May Oliver. She did so many different things so well, such as Pross in *A Tale of Two Cities.* She steals every scene in which she appears here, sending even Olivier into the shade. She's just a joy to watch.

As, frankly, is this whole movie.
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The original is the best
FilmOtaku22 May 2003
Pride and Prejudice is a familiar story - if not read in high school literature class, one can see the theme in dozens of other films: A meddling mother tries to marry off her daughter(s) to "suitable" man, the man and woman fight and all turns out at the end with mayhem ensuing between the first and final acts.

There have been several versions of Pride and Prejudice, two of which I had seen before this film and after viewing the 1940 version starring Greer Garson and Laurence Olivier it is clear that this is the standard. Is there a better actor than Olivier in these period dramas? And Greer Garson is radiant as Elizabeth. Their performances and the pace of the film is such that while I knew the story I was still sucked into the romance and laughter - not an easy task for a hard-core cynic like me. This movie garnered 4 stars and for good reason - if you are looking for a charming, witty and romantic film, this is a must-see.

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Have to compare it to the book...
Jen1756 September 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I am a huge fan of Pride and Prejudice, the book, and I also love the '95 miniseries, mainly because it stays so close to the book. Being what you might call a purist, I do not like when movies stray TOO far from the original story, and I had been warned by reviews about this one, but I was still curious to watch and and willing to not be too judgmental- taking into consideration when it was made etc. (and I do love old movies)

Having said that, I really enjoyed the first three quarters of this movie. Sure, the costumes were laughable and a few things not quite right, but surprisingly enough it was all good fun. I didn't much care for the portrayal of Mrs Bennet, but Laurence Olivier's Darcy was excellent, if not entirely accurate.

The story was going along swingingly, I was surprised after reading bad reviews that it was actually relatively accurate- that is, until we return to Longborne from Hunsford. After that EVERYTHING hits the clinker, nothing makes any sense or has any real resemblance to the novel. I squirmed my way through the last half hour, forcing myself to watch on. Instead of being pleasantly surprised by the movie, as I anticipated whilst watching the first half, I was left with a definite feeling of distaste and dissatisfaction.

I don't think I could even enjoy this movie with the ending as it is, if I had never read the book. Nothing is explained properly, or dwelled upon, it is a quick succession of events that I feel, if I had no understanding of the book, would not make a lot of sense.

Overall, while I had moments of enjoyment, my impression of this movie is not at all satisfying.
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Anachronistic Costumes, rude Lizzy
sharah_thomas7 February 2004
The women's costumes are era indeterminate. I suppose the simple elegance of Regency dress couldn't compete with the splendor of Gone with the Wind, so they went with a Hollywood hodgepodge of Georgian and Victorian.

The altered dialog might have been considered witty in an adaptation of a lesser book. Jane Austen doesn't need any help with humor. Lizzy is too old, and Darcy is too flamboyant. Bless Larry Olivier's heart, but he never impressed me much on screen--his overacting might have been wonderful on stage, however. Only Mr. Collins is well played.

Greer Garson sneers like Darcy is supposed to, and Olivier smiles too much. The only proper bit of casting is Jane who, unlike in other movie versions, is truly prettier than Lizzy.

Both the 1979 or 1995 versions are far superior--albeit longer.
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Calysta20 January 2000
It does not run along the lines of the Jane Austen classic, but the 1940 movie was actually based on the stage adaption, eventually purchased by the MGM studio as what could have become another Norma Shearer expensive spectacle. Like many other projects at the studio, this collected dust after the death of Irving Thalberg, head of MGM.

Thankfully, new casting was decided on. Shearer of course is really too old for the role. The result was what I believe to be one of the most memorable movies of the 1940s. Austen's classic comedy of manners still has all its light touches of romance and humour, with the horrors of English 1800s, loss of estate, inheritance and destined sinking with no worldly stature for a family of five girls with no male heirs.

Amicably backed by a competent supporting cast including Edmund Gwenn and Mary Boland, the star of the show is really Greer Garson. Fresh from her successful debut as Robert Donat's wife in "Goodbye Mr Chips", Garson is really like Lizzy Bennett herself, charming, high spirited and strong willed. It is one of her best roles, just before she became the 'first lady' of MGM. Olivier, brooding and snobbish as the high classed Darcy, also performs well, but is still outshone by Garson.

Tasteful sets, costumes, music and art decoration helped to make this such a huge success in its day. All the right elements of acting, script and direction have made this a production that should be better remembered. We don't relate to the dilemnas of costume period drama days, but "Pride and Prejudice" is great cinematically to have lost little of its charm or its timeless appeal.

Rating: 9/10
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Good for Hollywood
suessis25 January 2000
Like most early Hollywood films based on classic novels, the script alters the novel considerably, but not as much as much as they usually were. As it happens, even with the changes this is a charming and endearing film.

Mary Boland as Mrs. Bennet, Edna May Oliver as Lady Catherine De Burgh, and Melville Cooper as Mr. Collins eat the scenery in their respective roles. They give some of the best supporting player performances that I ever remember seeing in early films. They manage to steal scenes from the greatest actor of the 20th century and making him look good at the same time!

Maureen O'Sullivan is charming as Jane, but of course Greer Garson is fabulous as Elizabeth even if she doesn't fit my idea of Elizabeth.

I recommend this movie highly as a nice addition to any classical movie collection.
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Exquisitely beautiful!
angel_de_tourvel25 June 2004
Despite the fact that so much has been skipped from the book (I'm reading P&P at the mo and have to admit it is some disappointment) This is no doubt a breathtakingly lovely and beautifully casted version. I am utterly in love with Laurence Olivier, whatever role he plays, and was more attracted to his Mr Darcy than disgusted (of which might not be to his credit!!) yet I felt he was born to play the role of distinguished, upperclass, and perfectly handsome gentlemen. Greer Garson was particularly charming and sophisticated as Elizabeth, (What the hell do other critics mean when they say she's OLD?) Her and olivier make a fantastic stage couple, and although I don't think she is quite as "pretty" as her sister Jane, she has a unique icyness about her which is captivating.

Fantasticly portrayed characters, and wonderfully romantic; I highly recommend this film.
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A travesty!
qleaper21 May 2000
Pride and Prejudice is one of my favorite novels, and the 1995 mini is by far my favorite adaptation. However, I always wanted to see the other ones. Last night I finally saw the oldest of the 3, and was aghast. I could not believe all the liberties taken with Jane Austen's masterpiece. New characters were added, scenes changed -- which so far is not that bad, considering the time constraints. What really horrified me was the complete change in personalities of the main characters. Darcy is not supposed to openly admire Lizzy until after her rejection -- until then he is supposed to be struggling with himself, trying to control his feelings until he cannot hold them any longer. Laurence Olivier was definitely not indifferent to Greer Garson's Elizabeth -- his performance was much more subtle and nuanced (definitely superior in every aspect) playing Max de Winter in Rebecca (a wonderful movie), which oddly enough was released in the same year as this production of P&P. It just confirmed my long-standing belief that no one can play Mr. Darcy better than Colin Firth. Greer Garson looked too old to play Lizzy -- but that's beside the point. She lacked the playfulness that Jennifer Ehle was able to bring to the character. Garson by comparison was very stiff. But what really shocked me was Lady Catherine. According to the book, until the end she is supposed to oppose Darcy's marriage to Lizzy, and here she not only admires Elizabeth, but helped Darcy in obtaining Lizzy's acceptance of his proposal! These are absolutely NOT minor details. These changes touch the core of the book, and that, in my opinion, is inadmissible.

Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice is not an openly funny book -- it makes you laugh by being witty (two very different things). This production of P&P somehow found the need to add comedy relief, such as the parrot and music box scene when Lady Catherine goes to Longbourn. Another reason why I love Jane Austen so much is that all her novels have a happy ending. But for this movie that was not enough. They had to end it with introducing a love interest for Mary (who is supposed to end up alone with her parents) and match Denny with Kitty. Adding all this up, it was actually painful to watch. But I finally gave up when Lydia called Whickham "Whicky"... Puh-lease! This is definitely a travesty of a movie, unworthy of such a wonderful novel. I was just glad I saw it on public television -- otherwise I would have asked for my money back!!!
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Jane Austen meets the Carry-On team
nick suess4 July 2003
Poor old Larry must have struggled with keeping his face straight in this, Hollywood's very own version of P&P. He put in a very passable performance as Darcy, and Mr Bennet was well portrayed by Edmund Gwenn. But against a backdrop of overacting female clowns done up in a horrible variety of old southern antebellum costumes, they really had to struggle. I suppose as the years have passed we have become used to filmmakers putting ever more endeavour to be accurate to the period and location, but here no attempt whatever was made. That high Californian sun no more resembled the British early spring than did the mish-mash of accents that never got more than half way across the Atlantic to Austen's own side (except of course for Larry), and the plot never got all that close to P&P apart from the names Darcy, Bennet and Collins being somehow jumbled around in there. Yes, there's such a thing as dramatic licence, and with half decent screenplay and a bit of dramatic tension (best achieved simply by getting closer to the novel) that might have worked.

Don't just say "but this was in 1940". They knew how to make good movies back then. "Rebecca" won best Picture, and "Philadelphia Story" and "Grapes of Wrath" were nominated. Larry himself got a Best Actor nomination for "Rebecca", and must have wondered what on earth he was doing in this sad shambles. And this somehow won a Best Art Direction Oscar. I guess there was a war on elsewhere in the world.

5/10, and that's being generous because Larry was in it.
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Matchmaker, Matchmaker, Make Me Five Matches
bkoganbing5 July 2007
Although some of the wit and commentary of Jane Austen's novel has been left out of this MGM production of Pride and Prejudice, what remains is a nice romantic story of the five Bennett sisters and their efforts to find husbands.

Remember this is 19th century Great Britain with all those class distinctions and a crazy law that the Bennett family estate cannot pass through a female. This puts Edmund Gwenn and Mary Boland in a real pickle. They've got five daughters and they'd better get them all wed to respectable people before the Bennetts take leave of this world.

Their closest male heir is Melville Cooper, a cousin who is one ghastly boor of an individual. In the novel, Cooper is a clergyman, not unlike Reverend Ascoyne D'Ascoyne in Kind Hearts and Coronets. But in the days of the Code you could not show a clergyman in a bad light or make him a figure of fun. Still without his profession noted, Cooper turns in a performance that for him is one of two career roles, the other being the sheriff of Nottingham in The Adventures of Robin Hood.

Edmund Gwenn has a wonderful part as the patient Mr. Bennett. Eddie Cantor could have identified with him because he was the father of five daughters and learned patience the hard way also. In addition to the daughters he has Mary Boland and her pretensions to deal with. The chemistry they have is very similar to that which she had with Charlie Ruggles when they were paired in bunch of films in the Thirties.

Mary Boland is perfect casting for Mrs. Bennett, she truly imprints her personality on the part. So does Edna May Oliver as the formidable Lady Catherine DeBoerg. She's a patroness of Melville Cooper, why I can't figure out, but he genuflects at the mention of her name. And he uses her name the way Mattie Ross used her lawyer J. Noble Daggett's name in True Grit.

Lady Catherine is a part also just written for Edna May Oliver. When that woman wasn't formidable on the screen I don't remember. She's also the aunt of Laurence Olivier who is trying to overcome his own class snobbery in courting Greer Garson, one of the five Bennett sisters.

Of course Olivier and Garson are the leads, but Pride and Prejudice depends more and succeeds on the strength of its ensemble of great character players perfectly cast. Olivier himself was not happy during the production as he expected to do this film with his wife Vivien Leigh. Still he's fine in the part as is Garson. She's got more sass in her makeup than her crinolined sisters and Olivier also shows more character than when we first meet him as a typical Regency snob.

I like Pride and Prejudice, but I like it for the performances of Cooper, Boland, Gwenn, and Oliver than for either of the leads. They're good, but they're support is fabulous.
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"Gone with the Wind" terrorizes P&P
wisewebwoman7 December 2004
This film is a travesty but does a terrific service for the movie going public and fans of Jane. It makes the subsequent TV adaptation all the more wonderful and easier on the eyes. I could start with a list - for one, Greer is far from nineteen in her role as Elizabeth, the eldest teenager. She is twice that and it shows. One winces every time she does something girlish, like flash those eyes flirtatiously. Elizabeth did not flirt. And oh please, the bow and arrow scene. Then there is the rather hollow Laurence Oliver doing his brittle best as Darcy. Was there ever a more irritating voice on screen and off? Somewhere between a burp and staccato gunfire. The hoops and the gowns and the hats all circa Civil War America. And why oh why did they soften up Catherine De Burgh.

Unforgivable. I could go on and on... but I will spare you and me. 5 out of 10. For what? For suspending disbelief and pretending it was something entirely unrelated to Jane Austen. Read Jane, watch 10 minutes of this. You will turn it off. You will rent the gorgeous 1995 TV version.
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Whether to laugh or cry? That's an easy one!
JohnSol1 November 2003
Even ignoring my new-found passion for Austen (yes, I'm one of those) and the fact that I had just finished reading P&P literally days before viewing this version of it, I find it hard to believe that so many reviewers find anything of value in this unfortunate production - clearly stamped out on the MGM studio factory line, with little care or thought, like so many of the films of the period. Fortunately, my love of the novel, and of the superior Ehle/Firth version, allowed me to dismiss this with very little pain.

With that said, though, I still must comment on one thing that really seemed to miss the mark, and that I don't see mentioned elsewhere, and that was the way the Bennet sisters were presented. They ALL seemed like silly little girls and, although Garson's Elizabeth had an opportunity to demonstrate how "modern" her thinking was, she still came off as comical, not to be taken seriously. Austen made a very clear distinction in her work, between Lizzy and Jane on the one hand (intelligent, reflective, serious and sensitive) and their 3 younger sisters (flighty, man-hungry, vacuous), and that difference provided a potent (frequently humourous) backdrop to the character development and plot in her work. This version didn't even come close to presenting such a distinction.

Others' comments take care of the rest of my objections to this drivel, so I won't repeat them here. But I will add that even Olivier couldn't save it for me. He seemed the same person throughout the entire movie. Charming, yes, but did he show any sign of having accomplished the transformation that Elizabeth helps bring about in him in the real story? Did he learn anything about himself in the course of his relationship with her - other than her superior skill at archery (which, in its attempt to show her to be full of surprises and quite capable of upsetting Darcy's composure, only added to all the silliness).

The novel helps us understand how bright, intelligent and introspective individuals can accept their limitations, change their way of thinking about others and themselves and grow tremendously in the process. This MGM outing was more like an Andy Hardy movie with pretty costumes and a faux British setting.
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vegemite-toast14 February 2006
In his 1940 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, Robert Z. Leonard provides the perfect blueprints for how NOT to make a Jane Austen movie.

Even the greatest actors of the time, Greer Garson and Laurence Olivier, were not able to salvage the atrocious script which butchers Austen's delightful prose, leaving only the barest bones of plot and characterisation beneath a shock of silly frills and lace. As a result, this witty, intelligent and deeply romantic novel is turned into a shallow, soppy love story that no lover of good writing can possibly appreciate.

The historically inaccurate costuming is enough to make one wince. Women flit around in ridiculous hooped skirts and frilly bonnets taken straight out of Gone With the Wind, as opposed to the simpler and more elegant Regency gowns that would have been worn at the time in which Pride and Prejudice is set.

The film's only comedic value is provided by the complete incompetence of its creators. If, like me, you enjoyed reading the novel, you'll be left in fits of laughter by an interpretation of Austen's classic that completely misses the mark.

If, on the other hand, you're looking for a more faithful and worthwhile adaptation, your time would be much better spent watching the 1995 BBC miniseries with Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth.
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Austen it's not
johnginn28 December 2005
I just caught this on Turner Classic Movies and while it does have a small breezy charm at times, it is a terrible adaptation of Austen's novel. Terrible.

Austen's novel and prose exhibited a great deal of wit, which this version mistakes for a kind of breezy humor, but beneath her wit, Austen was also writing about a time and societal structure in which social standing and the appearance of certain respectability was everything. For the characters involved, even Elizabeth, who tried to appear not to not care at times, the unfolding of the story's events all come with serious consequences attached.

My impression of this version is that it seemed largely unaware of the story's more dire concerns. Mrs. Bennet's desire to see her daughters married is treated here as kind of amusing, but in the book, and in the reality of the time, her fears that her daughters will lose their standing are not without merit. The society they live in really doesn't offer many opportunities for her daughters.

This version seems to be all about love; Austen's novel is really a story of survival. That Jane and Elizabeth both also happen to find their heart's true love while marrying well is really something of a miracle. In Austen's world love and marriage did not always run hand in hand.

Having just seen the 2005 version, the lack of Austen's bite was all the more evident. This version just gets so many things wrong. The actresses playing the Bennet sisters are all way too old for their roles. In the book, Elizabeth is "not yet one and twenty" and Lydia is a young twerp of 15 or 16 when she runs away with Wickham. Lady De Bourgh's actions in the end of this version are just plain ridiculous, the resolution is neat and tidy wrapped up far too quickly and throughly wrong. Other changes in the story are just baffling.

Enjoy this version if you must, but for me it was like watching a Cliff Notes version that was written by someone who hadn't actually read the story himself but had only heard about from a friend.
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Absolutely Dreadful!
athena3311 March 2013
The atrocious costumes alone are enough to make me want to take a flamethrower to the screen. They are hideous! And they are not Recency era costumes.

More importantly, Lizzy, played by Greer Garson, is a walking disaster. First of all, she is too old for the part. Secondly, she couldn't act her way out of a paper bag. She comes off as having more pride than Darcy, while at the same time, looking like an idiot.

The story is not true to Austen either, and while I am not an Austen purist, I think the liberties they took perverted the whole meaning of the story. Darcy seemed to love Lizzy almost from the start, and the only time we see his "pride" is during his proposal. There are lots of other differences too, which are not so important.

Overall, I think this film was an insult to the wit and intelligence of Jane Austen.
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angelimmortal2029 October 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I saw this movie about two weeks ago and it was horrible. The costumes were all wrong. The movie felt rush and cut out the good parts from the book. The actors didn't look like the right age for the characters. Darcy wasn't Darcy in this movie. He was too much in love with Elizabeth Bennet. I thought Mr. Collins was still funny. I didn't like the part, when Wickham and Lydia married and Bennets decided to move out of the house? Very wrong. But, the part I didn't like was the ending when Lady Catherine gave permission to Darcy to marry Elizabeth. Believe me, I know people enjoying watching this movie, but I was the one who didn't.
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One of the worst films ever.
pma97dr-23 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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Loved the book, Loved the movie
alphaleonis16 January 2004
My wife and I read Pride and Prejudice together about thirty years ago. I have since read it several more times as has she. There are very few books that I have read more than once, so my love for the book is evidenced. There are many radical departures of this movie from the book, the most regrettable being the omission of the Pemberley Estate scenes. But I still must give it a 10/10. Some of the changes seem to be actually preferable from an entertainment point of view. But as I reread the novel (as I have two or three times since first seeing the movie) I appreciate both versions.

This is a movie that sits in its case on our entertainment center in our bedroom. Once or twice a year, when the offerings on the tube become unbearable, it's popped into the VCR and never fails to entertain.

This book and the movie have been a launching pad for us on the road of entertainment. We have both since read most of the Austen novels. The only other one we have enjoyed on the screen is Emma (Gwyneth Paltrow), though we have tried several other screen versions including the 5 hour version of P&P. It also was a starting point for searching out more Greer Garson & Lawrence Olivier movies. It was the first movie we saw with either of these great stars in it. Then of course, you can't be a Greer Garson fan without becoming a Walter Pidgeon fan - and it goes on and on. And this was the beautiful starting point for all of this fun.
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So this is a screenplay based on a dramatisation of the novel . . .
IridescentTranquility11 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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Very Poor adaptation of a great book
willthrillws27 July 2005
I read pride and prejudice about a year ago and was immediately I fell in love with it. Soon after I watched the BBC 1995 miniseries based on the book. It was amazing and stayed exactly with the book. All of the characters kept and everything from the costumes to the sets was correct. Recently however I was channel surfing and saw that the 1940 version of pride and prejudice was coming on well I was quite delighted for I thought that it would be very good for Laurence Olivier was playing Mr. Darcy and Greer Garson was what I thought to be a good actress up to that point. Well as I watched the film the first thing I noticed was that all of the costumes were in the wrong period. The book was set in the early 19th century. This was during the time when all dresses were high waisted and no petticoats were worn and most clothes were simple. The clothing worn by these people was obviously from the 1840's because of the low off the shoulder bodices and wide skirts supported by petticoats it almost looked like I was watching gone with the wind. Furthermore the plot line has been all twisted to please the constraints of time alloted. The performance of Greer Garson is horrific. She is terrible as Elizabeth Bennett. She is entirely to choppy and not at all how I pictured the character and holds nothing to Jennifer Eale who played Elizabeth in the 1995 version. Olivier is disappointing as well but I suppose you could chalk that up to bad writing. In all of their scenes together there is no tension between them and no passion it is quite disappointing. All of the rest of the characters are badly played and the entire movie should be ban it is horrible and Jane Austen was probably turning in her grave in 1940.
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