20 January 2000 | Calysta
It does not run along the lines of the Jane Austen classic, but the 1940 movie was actually based on the stage adaption, eventually purchased by the MGM studio as what could have become another Norma Shearer expensive spectacle. Like many other projects at the studio, this collected dust after the death of Irving Thalberg, head of MGM.
Thankfully, new casting was decided on. Shearer of course is really too old for the role. The result was what I believe to be one of the most memorable movies of the 1940s. Austen's classic comedy of manners still has all its light touches of romance and humour, with the horrors of English 1800s, loss of estate, inheritance and destined sinking with no worldly stature for a family of five girls with no male heirs.
Amicably backed by a competent supporting cast including Edmund Gwenn and Mary Boland, the star of the show is really Greer Garson. Fresh from her successful debut as Robert Donat's wife in "Goodbye Mr Chips", Garson is really like Lizzy Bennett herself, charming, high spirited and strong willed. It is one of her best roles, just before she became the 'first lady' of MGM. Olivier, brooding and snobbish as the high classed Darcy, also performs well, but is still outshone by Garson.
Tasteful sets, costumes, music and art decoration helped to make this such a huge success in its day. All the right elements of acting, script and direction have made this a production that should be better remembered. We don't relate to the dilemnas of costume period drama days, but "Pride and Prejudice" is great cinematically to have lost little of its charm or its timeless appeal.