Pride and Prejudice (1940)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Long before 19th-century novelist Jane Austen became a hot property in Hollywood, MGM produced this opulent and entertaining adaptation of one of Austen's best-known novels. The elegant and slyly satirical comedy of manners gets under way when socially conscious Mrs. Bennet (Mary Boland), with the begrudging assistance of her husband (Edmund Gwenn), begins seeking out suitable (and suitably wealthy) husbands for her five daughters: Elizabeth (Greer Garson), Jane (Maureen O'Sullivan), Lydia (Ann Rutherford), Kitty (Heather Angel), and Mary (Marsha Hunt). One of the least likely matrimonial prospects is Mr. Darcy (Laurence Olivier), a rich, handsome, but cynical and boorish young man. Naturally, Elizabeth Bennet, the strongest-willed of the Bennet girls, is immediately fascinated by him, and she sets out to land him -- but only on her own terms, and only after she has exacted a bit of genteel revenge for his calculated indifference to her. Though Austen's novel was set in 1813, the year of its publication, the film version takes place in 1835, reportedly so as to take advantage of the more attractive costume designs of that period. Not surprisingly, a few changes had to be made to mollify the Hollywood censors (eager to find offense in the most innocent of material): the most notable is the character of Mr. Collins (Melville Cooper), transformed from the book's hypocritical clergyman to the film's standard-issue opportunist.
Classics , Comedy , Drama
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Greer Garson
as Elizabeth Bennet
Laurence Olivier
as Fitzwilliam Darcy
Edna May Oliver
as Lady Catherine de Bourgh
Mary Boland
as Mrs. Bennet
Bruce Lester
as Charles Bingley
Frieda Inescort
as Miss Bingley
Edmund Gwenn
as Mr. Bennet
Karen Morley
as Charlotte
Edward Ashley
as Wickham
Marten Lamont
as Mr. Denny
E.E. Clive
as Sir William Lucas
May Beatty
as Mrs. Phillips
Marjorie Wood
as Lady Lucas
Gia Kent
as Miss de Bourgh
Gerald Oliver Smith
as Fitz William
Vernon P. Downing
as Capt. Carter
Buster Slaven
as Beck's Assistant
Bruce Lister
as Mr. Bingley
Wyndham Standing
as Committeeman
Lowden Adams
as Committeeman
Clara Reid
as Maid in Parsonage
Claud Allister
as Yardgoods Clerk
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Critic Reviews for Pride and Prejudice

All Critics (10) | Top Critics (2)

For pure charm and romantic diversion, for bubbling and wholesome life, we most heartily recommend this exquisite comedy about the elegant young gentleman who was proud and the beautiful young lady who was prejudiced.

Full Review… | May 20, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

Typically overstuffed MGM prestige product (1940), but one that came out surprisingly well, with a minimum of Eng. Lit. posturing and some elegance of design.

Full Review… | December 31, 1999
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Delightful romance, filled with warmth, wit, singing, dancing and verve: ideal entertainment.

Full Review… | October 2, 2014
Classic Film and Television

The gentle satire of Austen's novel sits quietly, just beneath the surface, only to rise up and take the occasional bite out of offending characters at opportune moments.

Full Review… | July 5, 2013

It may not be entirely what Jane Austen intended, but it's close enough and remains a pleasure.

Full Review… | October 21, 2006
Movie Metropolis

Director Joe Wright makes the camera energetic, but never distracting, intimate, but never intrusive.

November 10, 2005
Movie Mom at Yahoo! Movies

Audience Reviews for Pride and Prejudice

Solid adaptation, but the 95 version clearly blows it out of the water. Olivier is probably very good on his own and in his time as Darcy, but Firth's performance overshadows Olivier's for me in every way. The movie does a good job with the basic plot, although some of the characters get a little short shifted.

Matt Heiser
Matt Heiser

I heard that this movie strayed from Austen's novel so I wasn't expecting it to be as good as other adaptations. On the contrary, I found this version DELIGHTFUL! Though Laurence Oliver is a bit of a "stick in the mud" (I find his character flat) Greer Garson and her co-stars more than make up for it. I actually found the bit at the end with Lady Catherine de Bourgh which strayed from the original actually a better and more entertaining story line. What a great romantic comedy! I am sad that it took me this long to discover this gem. True that the costumes are all wrong for the time period in which Austen's story takes place but the beauty of creative license is that one can set the story in any time period, just as Romeo + Juliet has been set in modern times on more than a couple occasions.

Dannielle Albert
Dannielle Albert

Super Reviewer

Absolute favorite! Greer Garson playing the infamous Elizabeth was brilliant.

Leo L
Leo L

Super Reviewer

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