On her return to Hollywood she was forced into the studio’s chosen image – a New York sophisticate, jagged with sophistication in huge hats – squabbling and making up with Robert Taylor in Remember? But her Mrs Chipping was uppermost in executive minds when casting Pride and Prejudice (1940), based on a stage version which had been bought for Norma Shearer and Clark Gable. Garson and Olivier were much more sensible choices, even if Olivier later observed: “Dear Greer seemed to me all wrong as Elizabeth . . . she was the only down-to-earth sister but Greer played her as the most affected and silly of the lot”. However, Bosley Crowther of the New York Times wrote that she had “stepped out of the book, or rather out of one’s fondest imagination: poised, graceful, self-contained, witty, spasmodically stubborn and as lovely as a woman can be.” Nevertheless those who tend to Olivier’s view sighed for her presence during the recent BBC adaptation, in which Jennifer Ehle completely missed Lizzie’s sense of self-mockery.
Really, Mr. Shipman? I beg to disagree. For quite a few of us, Jennifer Ehle’s Ellizabeth Bennet was close to perfect. She had enough self-deprecating lines to make even a masochist envious. Greer Garson’s Elizabeth Bennet was all wrong, from costume, to her advanced age (she was in her mid-thirties when she made the film), to her interpretation of Elizabeth. I agree with Sir Laurence Olivier’s assessment – Greer was all wrong for the part.
Cheap Pride and Prejudice: Find other comments about this film, which is widely regarded as a classic. My opinion runs counter to that of many movie buffs and critics.