It is truly shameful that a blog called The Jane Austen Film Club has not yet had a post on one of the very first Jane Austen adaptations, Pride and Prejudice 1940. Thankfully, Turner Classic Movies had this on last night and I enjoyed it for the umpteenth time. Sir Laurence Olivier and Greer Garson in a Hollywood classic. So here is my post.
Also, don't sweat the fact that the story has been truncated and some characters left out entirely as it is only 118 minutes long. There are still 5 sisters, after all. And yes, they rather changed the personality of Lady Catherine at the end but again, just go with it. It was 1940 after all and filmed in Hollywood to boot, during WWII. When you think of it that way, it is a wonderful example of mid 20th Century film.
Lady Catherine: There's a very fair instrument in the housekeeper's room. You'll disturb no one there.
Elizabeth Bennet: You are really too gracious, Lady Catherine, but I shouldn't care to disturb the housekeeper.
Mrs. Bennet: Mary, Try to sparkle a little.
[Mary grins awkwardly]
Mrs. Bennet: Just a little!
Mrs. Bennet: Three of them married, and the other two just tottering on the brink!
There is much original dialogue in the film however, much more than was in Emma Thompson's Sense and Sensibility, so you may be surprised. And looking at the photo above, this may be heresy to say, but I think I would rather see a colorized version of the film when I see Greer Garson's gorgeous red hair and green dress. Apparently I am not a purist in any sense of the word.
The acting is superb. How can you complain about Olivier and Garson? And the sets are opulent. They just didn't do filming on location back then in Hollywood, so you can't expect it can you?
Just take it as it is, and you will have a lovely romp through one of the first Austen adaptations ever. I may need to see this again now.
P.S. This is a great one to see right after My Week With Marilyn. Kenneth Brannagh deserved his Oscar nomination for his portrayal of Laurence Olivier. Spot on Ken!