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P&P 200: Pride and Prejudice (1940) Film Review

In celebration of the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen's classic Pride and Prejudice novel, I thought I'd post my reviews here of all the TV and film adaptations of P&P I've seen starting with the first film adaptation, the Oscar winner (for art direction) Pride and Prejudice (1940) film starring Greer Garson and Sir Laurence Olivier.

Here's my film review of the 1940 film...

Watch the trailer for Pride and Prejudice (1940)
 (source: troffhouse)
Pride and Prejudice 1940 Synopsis
Mr. and Mrs. Bennet have five unmarried daughters, and Mrs. Bennet is especially eager to find suitable husbands for them. When the rich single gentlemen Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy come to live nearby, the Bennets have high hopes. But pride, prejudice, and misunderstandings all combine to complicate their relationships and to make happiness difficult.
When I first saw the first film adaptation to Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice,  which was this 1940 black and white film, I only saw very little of it or rather clips on YouTube. I thought someone had posted the entire movie there some years ago, but unfortunately, I didn't see it at while it was still available to watch. It seemed to be taken down as I can't find the links to the whole film there anymore. I've been searching for the movie to see it on DVD rental stores and Netflix and didn't find one available. Fortunately, I found a site that has it available for either a free download or online streaming. I chose the latter and finally got to see it.

I thought this was a good, fun, and entertaining film. It reminded me a bit of the classic Gone With The Wind, not the film per se, but as far as the costumes and hairstyle that the Bennet women wore. I must say though that this P&P version strayed and altered a few important scenes (ie. Pemberley scenes were omitted in this film...that's a big no-no and a let down to exclude Darcy's location and home, where Elizabeth with her aunt and uncle visited and toured the place and Lady Catherine's involvement to Elizabeth & Darcy's getting back together in the end was unexpected, etc.) from the novel. If not for the P&P character names mentioned and a few similar lines from the book, I would've thought I was watching a different romantic-comedy film and not Pride and Prejudice. Also, I find Greer Garson (as Elizabeth Bennet), her Bennet sisters/co-stars and Sir Laurence Olivier (as Mr. Darcy) to be too old to be playing the young characters Austen created in her novel. That alone was a major flaw in the casting department of this film. They just simply looked too old for me to believe that they were playing the young Bennet sisters (ages 15-22 in Austen's novel). They looked like the Bennet sisters in their early 30s (than in their early 20s) in their later years, lol. Also, Mr. Darcy, while he was still handsome looking, looked like he was in his 40s (ironic that that this film was in the year 1940s) and not the late 20s (28 years of age) Darcy should've been or was described in the novel.

While this adaptation may be the first made, it's a good thing it didn't stop there as the first and only adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, as I wouldn't have discovered other versions to like and enjoy watching especially my personal favorite, the 2005 one, the second only film adaptation in 65 years after this one. Also, I've enjoyed the 1980, 1995, and Bollywood's Bride & Prejudice to name a few (which I'll be posting my reviews here very soon).

Overall, this 1940 black and white version was good as a romantic-comedy on its own, but not great as far as a Pride and Prejudice adaptation. It's outdated, in my opinion. While I understood the liberties it took to adapt Austen's classic novel to translate and fit it into a 2-hour cinematic film, I was disappointed that version omitted a few important scenes from the book like the Pemberley/Derbyshire scenes and it was almost unrecognizable, if not for the Pride and Prejudice title and character names. The casting alone didn't do for me. Good thing this wasn't a 3-6 hours long or I wouldn't have made it past through the first proposal scene, lol. Still, I enjoyed watching this movie and thought it was funny though...just not my kind of Pride and Prejudice movie (that I prefer or love watching multiple times). That is all.



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