Robert Harris

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Robert Z. Leonard's 1940 take on Jane Austen's 1813 novel, is a magnificent M-G-M production, for which they apparently spared no expense.

Photographed by the great Karl Freund, and with a cast of M-G-M's top players - Greer Garson, Laurence Olivier, Edna May Oliver, Maureen O'Sullivan, Ann Rutherford, Marsha Hunt, Heather Angel...

The new Warner Archive release is from a gorgeous scan of a safety fine grain master, in turn derived from the original nitrate camera negative, lost to decomp c. 1970. I had to double check as to generation, as it appeared to be OCN-derived.

I actually noticed things that had never been previously obvious, such as the major use of rear-screen projection, within which can now be seen actual proof of the zombie infestation that hit Culver City 1939-40. Pay extra attention to the backgrounds of these shots. Strange as it may seem, there was also a zombie outbreak in UK c. 1813-14, which makes sense that M-G-M might attempt to allow the flavor.

The New York Times' Bosley Crowther actually gave it glowing a glowing notice:

"Hunt Stromberg and his associates have managed to turn out a film which catches the spirit and humor of Miss Austen's novel down to the last impudent flounce of a petticoat, the last contented sigh of a conquering coquette. With no more of a plot than Miss Austen herself provided they have told the simple but continuously captivating story of the five Bennet sisters in quest of husbands, of their frankly scheming mother, their wisely unmeddlesome father, of Darcy and Bingley and the treacherous Wickham. The whole thing has been accomplished through a steady flow of superlative wit—most of it out of the novel and some of it supplied by Aldous Huxley and Jane Murfin—which puts a snapper on almost every scene; and also through a consistently artful inventiveness of detail and a keen appreciation of the subtleties of Miss Austen's characters. It isn't often that a cast of such uniform perfection is assembled."

Gorgeous black & white imagery, with a perfect gray scale and meticulous blacks. Film grain is perfect.

Time to turn the old DVD into a coaster.


Image – 5

Audio – 5 (DTS-HD MA 2.0 - Monaural)

Pass / Fail – Pass

Upgrade from DVD - Yes!

Highly Recommended
 
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lark144

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Thanks so much, Mr. Harris, for this review. Not to criticize, as it's a large cast, but you left out Marsha Hunt, who survived the blacklist and at 103 is still with us. Ms. Hunt is close to an old friend of mine, and once she told me that after seeing her in "Pride and Prejudice", Louis B. Mayer ran up to her and began shouting, "Sex! You've got sex!" the way scientists proclaim "Eureka!" in Warner Brothers films of the 30's and 40's.
 

Robert Harris

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Thanks so much, Mr. Harris, for this review. Not to criticize, as it's a large cast, but you left out Marsha Hunt, who survived the blacklist and at 103 is still with us. Ms. Hunt is close to an old friend of mine, and once she told me that after seeing her in "Pride and Prejudice", Louis B. Mayer ran up to her and began shouting, "Sex! You've got sex!" the way scientists proclaim "Eureka!" in Warner Brothers films of the 30's and 40's.
Added. Thank you!
 

Robert Crawford

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Back to "Pride and Prejudice" (1940)!

Now getting back to "Pride and Prejudice" (1940), I'm going to watch the movie again on HBO Max as I want to see if it's source from the same master used in this upcoming Blu-ray release. If it looks close to pristine then I know it has been sourced from that master.
 

Robert Crawford

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Due to my fault to some extent this thread on "Pride and Prejudice" (1940) got sidetracked by a discussion on Pauline Kael and Bosley Crowther. I've moved several of those posts to this thread, where people can discuss Kael and Crowther to their heart's content. Any further posts in this particular thread about those late film critics will simply be deleted going forward.
 

Robert Crawford

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Back to "Pride and Prejudice" (1940)!

Now getting back to "Pride and Prejudice" (1940), I'm going to watch the movie again on HBO Max as I want to see if it's source from the same master used in this upcoming Blu-ray release. If it looks close to pristine then I know it has been sourced from that master.
After streaming "Pride and Prejudice" this morning on HBO Max, it sure looks like it's derived from a new master. It looked excellent in my opinion. I had a big grin on my face for the entire 118 minute runtime. God, I always loved this movie! It's been a while since my last viewing in its entirety. The humor and class warfare barbs are littered throughout this period comedy. I'm so glad that Greer Garson played Elizabeth instead of Vivien Leigh. I'm really looking forward to watching it again in the near future with this upcoming Blu-ray release.
 

Glenn C.

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Thanks so much, Mr. Harris, for this review. Not to criticize, as it's a large cast, but you left out Marsha Hunt, who survived the blacklist and at 103 is still with us. Ms. Hunt is close to an old friend of mine, and once she told me that after seeing her in "Pride and Prejudice", Louis B. Mayer ran up to her and began shouting, "Sex! You've got sex!" the way scientists proclaim "Eureka!" in Warner Brothers films of the 30's and 40's.
Some people might not agree with me, I found her comic relief role in this movie rather funny. I can hardly wait for July 14th.
 

lark144

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Some people might not agree with me, I found her comic relief role in this movie rather funny. I can hardly wait for July 14th.
Most people I know think she's simply marvelous in "Pride and Prejudice."
 
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Mark Mayes

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"I'm so glad that Greer Garson played Elizabeth instead of Vivien Leigh. I'm really looking forward to watching it again in the near future with this upcoming Blu-ray release."


Nobody is a bigger VL fan than I. But I agree in this case. It's a big enough stretch for us to think that Jane surpasses the beautiful, radiant Lizzy as embodied by Garson. O'Sullivan would never had held up to Leigh, despite being ravishing herself.
But apart from that, Garson has a solid, warm, down-to-earth quality that VL would have had to "act." Although Leigh had her own glamorous warmth in "That Hamilton Woman", it was of a different temperature than naturally displayed by Lizzy via Garson.

It is also my conviction that no one was a better ambassador for the sound of the English language than Greer Garson- especially in "Pride & Prejudice."
 

Will Krupp

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Did Vivien Leigh WANT to play Elizabeth? I had always heard that she wanted Larry to play the Robert Taylor role in WATERLOO BRIDGE but LB Mayer wanted him as Garson's leading man instead. The two films were in production at roughly the same time. Am I mis-remembering?
 

Robert Crawford

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Did Vivien Leigh WANT to play Elizabeth? I had always heard that she wanted Larry to play the Robert Taylor role in WATERLOO BRIDGE but LB Mayer wanted him as Garson's leading man instead. The two films were in production at roughly the same time. Am I mis-remembering?
From AFI:

A biography of Laurence Olivier notes that M-G-M considered pairing Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable for the leading roles, based on their success in Gone With the Wind , and discussed the idea with producer David O. Selznick. Gable, however, turned down the role of Darcy because, modern sources note, he felt that he was not suited to the part. Olivier's biography also indicates that M-G-M picked Robert Taylor as its next choice, but Taylor was unavailable after being cast in Waterloo Bridge (see below). According to his autobiography, Olivier accepted the lead role in Pride and Prejudice with the understanding that Leigh was to be his co-star and that George Cukor would direct. Leigh wanted the part and tried to convince Cukor to keep her in the film, but the studio decided to have her co-star with Taylor in Waterloo Bridge . An Olivier biography claims that the decision to replace Leigh was made by M-G-M studio head Louis B. Mayer, who was allegedly advised by Selznick to pull her from the film fearing that her affair with Olivier, who was married to Jill Esmond at the time, would generate unwanted publicity and harm the film's commercial success. Olivier and Leigh were married in 1940 after divorcing their respective spouses. In his autobiography, Olivier is quoted as saying "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."
 

Robert Crawford

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Very interesting, thanks! I hadn't heard that before but it sounds definitive! (Ya learn sumthin new every day!) :biggrin:
I actually knew about this from another source, but I couldn't remember where so I looked it up yesterday on AFI's site. You were right that both movies were in production at the same time.
 
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Mark Mayes

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Vivien Leigh's disappointment at being cast in "Waterloo Bridge" soon changed. It was her best working experience and her personal favorite of all her films.
Olivier and she were at least on the same backlot and consulted during breaks of their respective films on their upcoming stage production of "Romeo & Juliet". They lost all of their earnings from both pictures in the failure of that play.
 

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