PRIDE AND PREJUDICE—Jane Austen’s 1813 novel gets the British Hollywood treatment in this 1940 version, and the results are fairly delightful. A comedy of mores and manners in middle-class England of the early 1800s, this one creaks a bit with age, but the scripting is consistently witty, the costumes, set decor and musical scoring stylish and most of the performers are excellent.
Laurence Olivier makes a properly too-proud ‘Mr. Darcy’, Greer Garson and Maureen O’Sullivan look pretty and radiate charm and Melville Cooper has a fuddy-duddy field day as suitor to one of the five daughters around whom the story revolves.
The script was adapted by Aldous Huxley and Jane Murfin, Robert Z. Leonard directed the $1,437,000 production and it runs 117 minutes. The Art Direction was awarded an Oscar, and the movie was well-reviewed and is fondly recalled, although some Austen purists quibble over major divergences from the book. It made money ($1,849,000) but not enough to cover its costs, and chalked a loss for MGM of $241,000.
With Mary Boland, Edna May Oliver, Ann Rutherford, Frieda Inescort, Edmund Gwenn, Heather Angel and Marsha Hunt. As befitting one of the most popular novels ever written—it’s sold at least 20,000,000 copies—it was remade for the screen, to greater acclaim, in 2005.