Metro reaches into the remote corners of the library bookshelf for this old-time novel about English society and the vicissitudes of a British mother faced with the task of marrying off five daughters in a limited market. Pride and Prejudice was written by Jane Austen in 1793. As a film it possesses little of general interest, except as a co-starring vehicle for Greer Garson and Laurence Olivier.
Any novel which survives more than a century possesses unusual qualities, and Pride and Prejudice qualifies chiefly because of the characterization of Elizabeth Bennet (Garson), eldest of the eligible sisters and a rather daring young woman with ideas of feminism far in advance of her contemporaries. In the screenplay she is trimmed to fit into a yarn about a family, rather than about an unusual and courageous girl. In consequence, the film is something less than satisfactory entertainment, despite lavish settings, costumes, and an acting ensemble of unique talent.
Olivier appears very unhappy in the role of Darcy, rich young bachelor, who is first spurned and then forgiven for his boorishness, conceit and bad manners.
There are some good performances. Mary Boland is a fluttering, clucking mother of a brood of young women whose aim is matrimony. Edna May Oliver, as the dominant Lady Catherine, comes on the scene late in the story and makes for some much needed merriment. Melville Cooper does a good comedy bit and the other Bennet sisters, as played by Maureen O’Sullivan, Ann Rutherford, Marsha Hunt and Heather Angel, provide charm and pulchritude.
1940: Best B&W Interior Decoration