Guilty Pleasures Film Festival 2013

“Pride and Prejudice”

Greer Garson and Laurence Olivier in "Pride and Prejudice" (MGM, 1940)

Greer Garson and Laurence Olivier in “Pride and Prejudice” (MGM, 1940)

My mother introduced me to the 1940 adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice, which was one of her favorite films. (She also adored the book and read it faithfully at least once a year during her entire adult life.) Set in the polite society of 19th century England, the film tells the story of the Bennets, a middle class family with a father, five daughters, and an overbearing mother who is busy looking for suitable marriage prospects for her girls. When Mr. Bingley (played by Bruce Lester) and Mr. Darcy (played by Laurence Olivier), two very eligible and very rich bachelors, arrive in town, the two eldest Bennet daughters Jane (played by Maureen O’Sullivan) and Elizabeth (played by Greer Garson) meet them and thus start this classic romantic comedy of manners. While the screenplay takes some liberties with specific details of the narrative of the book, the book’s themes are firmly in tact. I highly recommend this film. Also stars Edmund Gwenn, Mary Boland, and Edna May Oliver. Based on the novel by Jane Austen. Screenplay adapted by Aldous Huxley (yes, the same Aldous Huxley who wrote the novel Brave New World) and Jane Murfin. Directed by Robert Z. Leonard. “I would have been a great proficient, had I ever learned.”