Turner Movie Classics offers a website with trailers and featurettes about its films. Click on this link to hear Ann Rutherford speak in two featurettes about the making of Pride and Prejudice 1940.
Of his part as Mr. Darcy, Laurence Olivier said in his autobiography: “I was very unhappy with the picture. It was difficult to make Darcy into anything more than an unattractive-looking prig, and darling Greer seemed to me all wrong as Elizabeth.”
If I may put in my two cents, I agree heartily with Mr. Olivier’s assessment. Considered a classic in the 20th century, the film now seems anachronistic and outdated. Except for a few excellent portrayals, (Mary Boland as Mrs. Bennet, Edna May Oliver as Lady Catherine de Bourgh, Edmund Gwenn as Mr. Bennet, Marsha Hunt as Mary Bennet, and Melville Cooper as Mr. Collins) I would not bother to see the film again.
From the notes on the TMC website: “M-G-M took several liberties with Jane Austen’s novel, among them moving the time period of the story forty years ahead. According to modern sources, this was done in order to allow for more ornate costumes.” Anne Rutherford said in a JASNA interview: “But I must say, that when the studio, in its infinite wisdom, when they changed the wardrobe from the wet-nightgown look, that empire look, to the ship-in-full-sail [Victorian] – they did such a wise thing. Because the sight of Mary Boland [Mrs. Bennet] bustling down the street with all of her little goslings behind her in their huge voluminous skirts, and all of them chattering at once – it wouldn’t have been nearly as delightful a sight-gag if we had all been in little, skinny wet-night-gown-type things.”
Again, I beg to differ. Notice the delightful picture these actresses in the 2005 Pride and Prejudice adaptation make in their regency gowns:
- Over view of Pride and Prejudice, 1940 on TMC website. Images from that site.
- The film’s movie posters on Jane Austen Today