After reviewing the most recent adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, I thought I'd review the novel's other big screen adaptation, which came out in 1940. Some may be interested to know that the film was co-written by Aldous Huxley, the author of Brave New World. The film got quite a positive reception at the time of its release but it isn't very well-known these days and doesn't tend to be very well-regarded by Austen fans. In fact many Austen fans hate this film and the common criticisms of it are perfectly valid. This is a film that could have been so, so good since Laurence Olivier and Greer Garson are in it but it's not an accurate adaptation and they change lots of stuff in it throughout. It isn't Austen's Pride and Prejudice at all.
My review of this film isn't going to be in much depth because I last saw it about 4 or 5 years ago. I do remember that the costumes are terrible in this film though and not at all accurate to the time period! The film was made on quite a tight budget so rather than getting in expensive and historically accurate costumes they simply loaned some costumes off the set of Gone with the Wind instead. At least that's what the rumour is. I don't know if the rumour is true but I do know that they weren't nice costumes! And why did they make Darcy so nice at the start of the film?! It misses the whole point of his character! About two seconds after insulting Elizabeth at the Meryton ball Darcy changes his mind and asks Elizabeth to dance with him! The film also leaves out the Pemberley scenes and we don't get to see Georgiana Darcy. Also, the final scenes bear very little resemblance to the book as the events have been re-written so that everyone is happy at the end. Lady Catherine actually APPROVES of Darcy's decision to marry Elizabeth and is a very affectionate aunt!
I'm too much of an Austen purist to love this film. However - and I know I'm putting my credibility on the line here - I still enjoyed this film a lot more than I thought I would. Yes it would have been a much better film had they got better costumes and attempted to be more faithful to the book. Nevertheless it has a quirky charm and the carriage race and archery scenes are genuinely quite funny. The acting is good and I liked Olivier and Garson too, especially Garson. I just don't think this film is Austen's Pride and Prejudice and I don't see it as a proper adaptation. This film won't be to everyone's tastes and if you're looking for a faithful adaptation of the book then you'll be disappointed. However if you're looking for a funny comedy that has a resemblance to Pride and Prejudice then you may well enjoy this film.