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A Reel Life film section

Issue: Summer, 2005

Pride and Prejudice movie review

Sisters are doing it for themselves.

The Bennett family is in an uproar. In the space of a movie Mrs Bennett has five daughters to marry off creditably. It is Regency England, although a regency where the women dress in hoop skirts, and the family lives comfortably, but not wealthily on an entailed property. On their father's death, the girls will have no home if they do not marry one. Their home will pass to Mr Collins, who has arrived seeking a wife. Meanwhile, two eligible bachelors have moved into the neighbourhood.

And a single wealthy man must inevitably be in search of a wife.

Movie Poster, Pride and Prejudice; Festivale film review

Movie Poster, Pride and Prejudice

When the Hollywood studio system of the 1940s decided to make Pride and Prejudice, they did so with a fairly low opinion of the intelligence and taste of its audience.

Quite apart from their belief that all old-time ladies dressed in hoop skirts like southern belles, the studios were quick to remove the edge of Jane Austen's social rapier, and to introduce some very 1940s values and explanatory dialogue.

The stories of the courtships of the three of the daughters is squeezed into a short film, making Pride and Prejudice a bit of a headlong rush to the altar. For aficiandos, some of the best scenes and finest lines are missing from this version.

For contemporary audiences, with access to the 1990s BBC miniseries version, this film is more like a quick overview of the highlights than a true bringing to screen of one of the most famous love stories in literature.

However, this is a good film for its type and day, and well worth a viewing.

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by Ali Kayn
For credits and official site details, see below
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See also: Autumn 2010 Reel Life: The Jane Austen Movie Club .

Just the facts:

Title: Pride and Prejudice (1940)
Written by: Jane Austen (novel); Aldous Huxley, Victor Heerman uncredited, Helen Jerome dramatisation, Jane Murfin
Directed by: Robert Z. Leonard
running time:

The Players: Greer Garson, Laurence Olivier, Mary Boland, Maureen O'Sullivan, Ann Rutherford

Official website:
IMDb entry

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