Pride and Prejudice (1940)

117 mins | Drama | 26 July 1940

Director:

Robert Z. Leonard

Producer:

Hunt Stromberg

Cinematographer:

Karl Freund

Production Designer:

Cedric Gibbons

Production Company:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
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HISTORY

According to a 1936 DV news item, production on M-G-M's Pride and Prejudice was initially scheduled to begin in Oct 1936 under Irving G. Thalberg's supervision, with Clark Gable and Norma Shearer in the leading roles. Following the death of Thalberg on 13 Sep 1936, pre-production activity on the film appears to have been halted. Trade paper reports of the production's progress resumed in mid-1937, when HR announced that Shearer wanted M-G-M to borrow Errol Flynn from Warner Bros. to co-star with her. In Aug 1939, HR announced that George Cukor would direct Robert Donat opposite Shearer, and that M-G-M was considering making the film in England. The start of the war in Europe in September 1939 soon caused the closure of M-G-M's operations in England, however. Cukor, according to HR , was replaced by Robert Z. Leonard because of a scheduling conflict with his assignment on Susan and God (see below).
       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 ... More Less

According to a 1936 DV news item, production on M-G-M's Pride and Prejudice was initially scheduled to begin in Oct 1936 under Irving G. Thalberg's supervision, with Clark Gable and Norma Shearer in the leading roles. Following the death of Thalberg on 13 Sep 1936, pre-production activity on the film appears to have been halted. Trade paper reports of the production's progress resumed in mid-1937, when HR announced that Shearer wanted M-G-M to borrow Errol Flynn from Warner Bros. to co-star with her. In Aug 1939, HR announced that George Cukor would direct Robert Donat opposite Shearer, and that M-G-M was considering making the film in England. The start of the war in Europe in September 1939 soon caused the closure of M-G-M's operations in England, however. Cukor, according to HR , was replaced by Robert Z. Leonard because of a scheduling conflict with his assignment on Susan and God (see below).
       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."
       Although HR production charts list actors Halliwell Hobbes and Jane Drummond in the cast, their appearance in the released film has not been determined. 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. Pride and Prejudice won an Academy Award for Best Black and White Art Direction. The first dramatization of the Austen novel opened in London on 24 Mar 1922 and starred Mary Jerrold, Joyce Carey and Ben Webster.
       Many subsequent stage adaptations of the novel have been produced, including one directed by Robert Sinclair that opened in New York on 5 Nov 1935 and starred Adrienne Allen and Colin Keith-Johnson, and one entitled First Impressions (Austen's original title for Pride and Prejudice ), directed by Abe Burrows, which opened in New York on 19 Mar 1959 with Polly Bergen and Farley Granger starring. Although HR reported in Oct 1947 that M-G-M producer Arthur Freed was preparing a musical version of the film, that film was never produced.
       There have been many film and television adaptations of Pride and Prejudice , among them a 23 Jan 1949 NBC television network broadcast of a Philco Playhouse dramatization starring Madge Evans and John Baragrey; a PBS network five-part Masterpiece Theater series of Fay Weldon's adaptation of Austen's novel which aired its first episode on a 23 Oct 1980 and starred Elizabeth Garvie and David Rintoul; a 1995 A&E Television Networks Inc. and BBC mini-series starring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle and directed by Simon Langton; an Indian film titled Bride and Prejudice , directed by Gurinder Chadha and starring Aishwarya Rai and Martin Henderson was released in 2004. Another adaptation starring Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen and directed by Joe Wright was released in 2005. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
2 Sep 36
p. 2.
Daily Variety
16 Jul 40
p. 3.
Film Daily
9 Jul 40
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Jul 36
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Dec 36
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
8 May 37
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Aug 39
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Jan 40
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
31 Jan 40
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Feb 40
pp. 8-9.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Mar 40
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Apr 40
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Jul 40
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Oct 47
p. 2.
Motion Picture Daily
9 Jul 40
p. 5.
Motion Picture Herald
27 Apr 40
p. 62.
Motion Picture Herald
13 Jul 40
p. 24.
New York Times
14 Mar 40
p. 5.
New York Times
9 Aug 40
p. 19.
Variety
10 Jul 40
p. 12.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITERS
Contr wrt
Contr to trmt
Contr to trmt
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Photog, forest scenes
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir assoc
FILM EDITOR
Supv film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
Gowns
Men's cost
MUSIC
Mus score
SOUND
Rec dir
DANCE
Dance dir
MAKEUP
Makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Unit mgr
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (London, 1813), and the play of the same name by Helen Jerome (New York, 5 Nov 1935).
DETAILS
Release Date:
26 July 1940
Production Date:
late January--early April 1940
Copyright Claimant:
Loew's Inc.
Copyright Date:
11 July 1940
Copyright Number:
LP9764
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
117
Length(in reels):
12
Country:
United States
PCA No:
6235
SYNOPSIS

In the rural village of Meryton in early eighteenth century England, the arrival of Mr. Charles Bingley, his sister Caroline and Mr. Darcy causes quite a stir among the mothers of unmarried daughters because both gentlemen are wealthy bachelors. Among the most enthusiastic is Mrs. Bennet, who has five eligible daughters and stands to lose Longburn, the family farm, to her husband's cousin Collins unless a male heir is produced. However, Mrs. Bennet's eldest daughter Elizabeth, a witty and independent young woman, is somewhat less impressed upon meeting Mr. Darcy, whom she finds arrogant and supercilious as he voices his prejudice against the middle class. On the other hand, Elizabeth's sister Jane is enchanted by Charles, who begins to court her, much to the disapproval of Caroline and Mr. Darcy. Elizabeth's dislike of Darcy is intensified when George Wickham, a boyhood friend of Darcy's, confides that his old friend has betrayed him. Elizabeth's opinion of the Bingleys and Darcy seems justified when Charles breaks Jane's heart by leaving for London without an explanation. Elizabeth meets Darcy again when she goes to visit her friend Charlotte, who has just married Mr. Collins, an employee of Darcy's aunt, Lady Catherine de Bourgh. At dinner that night, Darcy confides to Elizabeth that he has fallen in love with her and wants to marry her, but couches the proposal in condescending terms towards her family, and so Elizabeth refuses him. She returns home to find that her sister Lydia has run off with Wickham and the family is in disgrace. Hearing of the incident, Darcy offers to help, and confides in Elizabeth that Wickham betrayed ... +


In the rural village of Meryton in early eighteenth century England, the arrival of Mr. Charles Bingley, his sister Caroline and Mr. Darcy causes quite a stir among the mothers of unmarried daughters because both gentlemen are wealthy bachelors. Among the most enthusiastic is Mrs. Bennet, who has five eligible daughters and stands to lose Longburn, the family farm, to her husband's cousin Collins unless a male heir is produced. However, Mrs. Bennet's eldest daughter Elizabeth, a witty and independent young woman, is somewhat less impressed upon meeting Mr. Darcy, whom she finds arrogant and supercilious as he voices his prejudice against the middle class. On the other hand, Elizabeth's sister Jane is enchanted by Charles, who begins to court her, much to the disapproval of Caroline and Mr. Darcy. Elizabeth's dislike of Darcy is intensified when George Wickham, a boyhood friend of Darcy's, confides that his old friend has betrayed him. Elizabeth's opinion of the Bingleys and Darcy seems justified when Charles breaks Jane's heart by leaving for London without an explanation. Elizabeth meets Darcy again when she goes to visit her friend Charlotte, who has just married Mr. Collins, an employee of Darcy's aunt, Lady Catherine de Bourgh. At dinner that night, Darcy confides to Elizabeth that he has fallen in love with her and wants to marry her, but couches the proposal in condescending terms towards her family, and so Elizabeth refuses him. She returns home to find that her sister Lydia has run off with Wickham and the family is in disgrace. Hearing of the incident, Darcy offers to help, and confides in Elizabeth that Wickham betrayed his sister years earlier. Darcy's vulnerability forces Elizabeth to realize that she has fallen in love with him, but her pride prevents her from telling him. Just as the Bennets are about to leave town, Lydia returns with news that she and Wickham are married, thus restoring the family honor. As the family rejoices, Lady Catherine appears and, after ordering Elizabeth never to see Darcy again, informs her that Darcy has paid Wickham to marry Lydia. Catherine's interrogation clarifies Elizabeth's love for Darcy, and he returns to her just as Charles returns to Jane, and all ends happily. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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