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Pride and Prejudice Received the Full MGM Treatment,
This review is from: Pride and Prejudice [DVD]  [Region 1] [Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
Yes, it lacks the passionate intensity of the Colin Firth version, and the romance and lush locales of the Keira Knightly movie. But as a comedy of manners, this version is razor-sharp in the best MGM tradition. Co-scripted by Aldous Huxley, every other line is a barb or a zinger, delivered with staccato aplomb by a talented cast. Even director Robert Z. Leonard puts those wrong-era dresses to work by choreographing the women's movements as a gaggle of Bennets march down the street or several of them float from room to room. The movie also boasts three of MGM's finest character actors: Mary Boland as the fluttery Mrs. Bennet, solely obsessed with getting her daughters married (compare this role with Boland's work as the amorous countess in "The Women"), Edmund Gwenn as the wise, ever-sensible Mr. Bennet, and, of course, Edna May Oliver as the haughty Lady Catherine, whose every sneer speaks volumes. (Austen purists will doubtless be unhappy with her character's benevolent turnabout at the end.) Modern audiences may not be able to appreciate the exquisite black-and-white cinematography and lighting, the Oscar-winning set designs, or the movie's high comic style, but then, nowadays, the 1940's MGM backlot is just as alien a place to many as is Jane Austen's 1813 England. In the leads, Greer Garson brings intelligence and regal beauty, if not girlishness, to Elizabeth. Laurence Olivier captures the arrogance and intensity of Darcy, even if the script has him cave in a bit too quickly to Elizabeth's charms. And Maureen O'Sullivan captures Jane's sweetness and loveliness as no other actress has done since.