The Little Unknown Pride and Prejudice (s)

The Little Unknown Pride and Prejudice (s)

Most of us are aware that movie or TV adaptations of Pride and Prejudice include the 1940’s black and white version starring Greer Garson and Lawrence Olivier. How many of us have sighed at seeing this handsome Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy?  This is a very enjoyable film, however, not by the book. But we love it anyway as it was the first of the four available today.

Then there was the 1980 color TV mini-series starring Elizabeth Garvie as Elizabeth Bennet and David Rintoul as the dour Mr. Darcy. This is probably a favorite among many and is one I still need to see. I do have the DVD and plan to watch it soon as the clips I’ve seen have been interesting.

The 1995 BBC color mini-series is probably the favorite of most people. Colin Firth as Fitzwilliam Darcy has captured the heart of many female viewers who swooned as he emerged from the lake at Pemberley in a wet t-shirt, er a wet shirt.  My goodness, did Davies interject a bit of sex appeal in this series, do you think? Apparently worked, even though it never appeared in Jane’s Austen’s book…ever. Jennifer Ehle played the role of Elizabeth Bennet and seems to have done a credible job of depicting Austen’s witty heroine. I’ve seen one hour of the six and need to see it from start to finish which I will do before the end of the year.

Then there is my favorite, the 2005 version with Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen. Sorry, Ladies. I might like Colin Firth better in another movie other than P&P, but Matthew is my guy for this one. Why did I like this one so much even though it isn’t word for word what Jane Austen wrote?

The director, Joe Wright, approached the film more from an artistic standpoint, and he was also limited on time. The 2005 was only two hours and fifteen minutes compared to the 1995 version of six hours. When you have less than 40% of what the 1995 had to work with, a bit of compacting needs to be done. I think Joe Wright brought it off artistically and still got Jane Austen’s points across in spite of it not being word for word. And, yes, I love the dawn scene. Words were not needed for every scene.

But there is more. I was shocked when I found there was a 1958 TV Series starring Alan Badel and Marian Spencer. And I was slack-jawed with surprise to discover a 1952 TV series as well. Stars were Thea Holme, Daphne Slater, and Peter Cushing. I don’t think there is anything left of either of these. Such a shame.

There was also another 1967 black and white TV series version. All that is left is Episode 5, Parts 1 and 2, and I’ve put the links below. You may ask why there is only one episode left and can blame the BBC. They reused the tapes for other projects probably to save money and lost parts of history instead. This adaptation starred Lewis Flander as Darcy and Celia Bannerman as Elizabeth. Although this series also ran six hours like the 1995, Episode 5 is a little compacted (for time I’m sure), and I don’t believe all of it is available either. However, I hope you enjoy this two part episode on YouTube because there is no more. 🙁   Part 1  Part 2

In your comments below, please let me know which is your favorite and why. 🙂

26 Responses to The Little Unknown Pride and Prejudice (s)

  1. I truly enjoy the 1980 version. I understand the conversations better. They speak clearer. Charlotte, Mrs. Bennet and Mary are not plain, but attractive. I feel Lizzy really loves her family…She doesn’t look at them with disdain. Mr. Bennet is not the humorous character he is in other versions, both he and Darcy take some getting used to. The music is charming. The costumes are amazing especially Lady DeBurgh’s.
    The 1980 version is a real treat!

  2. I remember watching the 1967 series aged 11. Polly Adams (mum ofSusannah Harker, Jane Bennet in 1995) played Jane Bennet and she told me that they actually filmed that series I. Colour, even though it was shown in black and white.

  3. I wish it were possible to see the Alan Badel version again. That voice! He’s the reason I begged ten shillings from my dad to go to W H Smith and buy my Collins ‘Pride and Prejudice’.

    • Thank you for your comment, Pam. If you are referring to the 1967? version, I’m with you. I would love to see the whole thing. There is one small portion of it on YouTube. The BBC just blew it when they reused the tapes. Grrrrr! 🙁

  4. I watched David Rintoul and Elizabeth Garvie when it was on Masterpiece Theatre. My sister and I watched it dozens of times and quote it often. We give the vcr tape to our nieces who also watched it constantly. Still my favorite! Love her narration and so many of the supporting characters are so well cast.

    • Thank you for your comments, Gail. I have a copy of the 1980 but haven’t watched it yet. I need to take time for that version because I think I will like it also. 🙂

  5. My favorite is the 2005 version because of the scenes that required no words, the proposal, the delivery of the letter, and their meeting at dawn for the final proposal.

    • Sorry, Joan, that I missed your comment. I agree with you. Those scenes were part of what make this version my favorite. The dawn scene was especially beautiful. <3

  6. I have been searching the internetfor all P & P movies/variations… there’s are a lot of contemporary ones. Just being a P & P fan.. I want to watch them all. I have not seen these first 2 movies. Thanks for sharing. Now off to research where I can watch them

    • You’re welcome, Jennifer. And I agree wholeheartedly. I like all I’ve seen so far and probably will like all afterwards. Each has something to commend them though I might still have a favorite. 🙂

  7. I adore Matthew Macfadyen’s Darcy, and agree the 2005 version has many gorgeous scenes, but I really quibble with the director’s take on the living arrangements of the Bennets; their hems were perennially six inches deep in mud, and don’t get me started on that pig. I also thought director Joe Wright spent too much of his two-plus hours on “rocks and trees” and too little on the comparing them to men, ha-ha. We often see Elizabeth walking/running (in the opening credits, to Netherfield, away from church in Hunsford, away from Pemberley) or doing nothing (swinging through the seasons at Longbourn, standing at Stanage Edge in Derbyshire, sitting in Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire). We lost too much of Austen’s witty dialogue being to omission in favor of scenery and cinematography being given center stage. I always wondered why the beautiful shots couldn’t accompany dialogue. For example, in the 1995 version, most of what we see of Pemberley is accompanied by the housekeeper giving a tour and further insight into the characters of Darcy and Wickham, then outside we get a taur with Darcy himself and further dialogue between him and the Gardiners (showing the lessening of his arrogance) and Elizabeth (showing his earnestness to have her like Pemberley). In the 2005 version, we watch Elizabeth and her relations wander around and look at art, look out the window, then look at Georgiana, before getting caught out. It’s a long scene of nothing. I’m also likely in the minority on not liking Keira Knightley as Elizabeth, but that’s because I’d seen her play a version of her Elizabeth Bennet character in Oliver Twist, Doctor Zhivago, and Pirates of the Caribbean.

    To cement my minority standing, I’ll give a shout-out to David Rintoul’s Darcy. I think we often forget how un-romantic and un-leading man material Darcy is for a major portion of the book. One sentence after his introduction, we’re told “he was looked at with great admiration for about half the evening, till his manners gave a disgust which turned the tide of his popularity; for he was discovered to be proud; to be above his company, and above being pleased; and not all his large estate in Derbyshire could then save him…” Only those who interact with him get glimpses behind the facade, Lizzy especially, as little cracks gradually develop in his armor. But they happen so slowly that only his intimates would see it. At the very end, when Lizzy accepts his proposal, no one in her family can believe it; all are astounded and question her repeatedly. I think Rintoul captured the utter arrogance and standoffishness mixed with discomfort that characterized Mr. Darcy.

    • Appreciate your comments, Renée. As to Keira Knightley, I imagine she is a prisoner of the director and the script writer. As to David Rintoul’s depiction of Darcy, what little I’ve seen makes me wonder if he takes Darcy’s character a little too far to the negative. But, I’ll wait and see and not pass judgement until I watch the 1980. I do look forward to it. And I think I’ll like the 1995 and the 1980 but for different reasons. But the 2005 may still remain my favorite. 🙂

  8. I loved the ’40 version.. just to watch the way they walked. I realize the dresses were way off by a century but they were so interesting. It’s like how many ways can we decorate this hat or dress pattern. It was amazing listening to Greer Garson’s Elizabeth Bennet give Miss Bingley her set-down. Then we saw the viper tongue of Miss Bingley in retaliation. Now that was acting.

    I have seen the 1980 version a dozen times and I have practically memorized the 1995 version, which is my favorite. I have several versions, extended versions. listened to the commentaries, watched the special features with the how-it-was made, and lastly the Anniversary Editions. Yeah, I’m hooked. Thanks for the links to the earlier versions. I had no idea they existed. I enjoyed watching them.

    • You’re welcome. I think I’ll go back and revisit the 1940’s version. I love Greer Garson and enjoyed her in that one and ‘Random Harvest’ my favorite movie of all time. Glad you enjoyed the 1967 clips. I just wish the BBC had retained the 1952 and 1958 as well. Would love to compare all of them. 🙂

  9. My very favorite version is 2005. I wish all the episodes of the excerpts were available. I think I would have liked that one as second best. Thank you for showing them! I had no idea there were so many versions made!

  10. Thanks for this, Gianna! The 1995 version is my favourite. Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle do a wonderful job as Darcy and Elizabeth.
    I don’t mind the 2005 and the 1940 version either. The Darcys in both are great, but I think Elizabeth comes across as a little silly in both versions.
    The 1980 version is on the boring side (even for a P&P fan such as myself) and Darcy is really stiff.

  11. The 1980 version is far and away my favorite. I’ve always loved it since I first discovered it in the early nineties. I’ve watched it several times. Great post. Very enjoyable.

    • Glad you enjoyed it, Teresa. I think I will enjoy the 1980 as well. What I am curious about are the differences I’ll notice between it and the others. Thank you for commenting. 🙂

  12. I watched the two parts of the 1967 series but wasn’t too impressed. I’ve seen the 1940 version but I would say the director hadn’t read the book. 🙂 and looking at the costumes I don’t think he knew the period it was set in.
    I’ve also seen the 1980 version once and that was enough as I really really didn’t like Darcy in that. He was too much like a cardboard cutout!
    My two favourites are 1995 & 2005. I have both on dvd and I also watch them whenever they are on tv. I love both portrayals of Darcy in these versions – just wonderful!

    • Unfortunately, Glynis, the 1940’s version had money and time constraint problems. It was originally planned to be in color, but if I’m remembering correctly, GWTW used most of the color film available. So, it was filmed in black and white instead. Pride and Prejudice producers also bummed costumes from GWTW. There was about forty plus years difference in the styles between the two movies’ settings.

      I can understand 1980 not being your cup of tea. I’ve heard a similar comment about Rintoul’s performance. And I’m glad you have two favorites to enjoy. I think mine will still be the 2005 after seeing the others, but I’m determined to enjoy all of them. Thank you for commenting. 🙂

  13. I have the same pet peeve with all of the ones I’ve seen (that being the most obvious three). After Darcy’s botched proposal, I feel like the story gets hurried along onscreen. Much of what goes on after that moment seems to be what is cut for time. Only the largest plot points make it on screen. The second obstacle I have to picking a favorite is that it would be the BBC mini series, but I don’t care for the casting on some of the sisters and that very much impinges on my enjoyment. All that said, I like them all, and well enough that I can’t pick a favorite 🙂 As far as adaptations go, I actually like movie versions of Sense and Sensibility and Emma better, but I think that’s because those books aren’t quite as near and dear 🙂 I think it would take something amazingly perfect to make a Pride and Prejudice that would live up to all the pictures in our minds 🙂

    • I had to laugh, Summer. I think I will enjoy the 1995 but was not impressed with Mrs. Bennet who was too over the top. Not impressed with Colin Firth either with the hour I have watched. (ouch, sombody just tossed something at me. heheheheheI might change my mind after seeing the entire thing. Because I don’t usually pick things to pieces, if I could see all of them, I would probably enjoy all in spite of flaws. None are perfect, but I can still watch and be entertained. I remember seeing Emma and enjoyed it. Can’t recall S&S, but I haven’t read the book either, and that may be the reason why. As to the perfect Pride and Prejudice movie or series, it will never happen because money/time will always interfere. In the meantime, we can enjoy what we have.

  14. My favorite is also the 2005 as I love MacFadyen as Darcy. It is also the movie that had me read Pride and Prejudice. I agree that a lot can be said without words. I am sorry some of the other versions are not available, but will check out the links. Thank you for sharing.

    • My pleasure, Debbie. The 1967 was black and white and really carried the flavor of the time. I would have loved to have seen the whole thing. I really like the little bit that’s available.

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