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  • Writer's pictureCarrie Specht

Warner Bros. New Releases: July 2020

The Warner Archive presents the 1940 version of Pride and Prejudice in a new 1080p master from a 4K scan from the best surviving preservation elements. In other words, this is the best possible version of the beloved classic film you can get. And I can say that I "belove" the hell out of this version.

Robert Z. Leonard (Oscar nominated for The Great Ziegfeld and The Divorcee) directs this legendary Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) luxe adaptation of Jane Austen's timeless classic, sourced from Helen Jerome's hit stage version, with a screenplay by Aldous Huxley (Jane Eyre) and Jane Murfin (Roberta, The Women).

A then up and coming Laurence Olivier (Rebecca, The Prince and the Showgirl) provides one of his signature roles as the brooding gentry Darcy. And relative new comer, Greer Garson (Mrs. Miniver, Random Harvest) is the blistering and vivacious Elizabeth Bennett. These two cinema icons play the iconic opposites that ultimately attract, while leading an archetypical MGM all-star assemble of some stellar supporting players including Maureen O'Sullivan (Tarzan, The Thin Man), Ann Rutherford (Gone With The Wind, Love Finds Andy Hardy), Mary Boland (The Women, Ruggles of Red Gap), Edna May Oliver (A Tale of Two Cities, Drums Along the Mohawk) and Edmund Gwenn (Miracle on 34th Street, The Trouble With Harry).

Every time I watch this film it is an absolute joy. I may have it on in the background, and say to myself that I'll only stop to pay attention to my favorite scenes. The problem (and the pleasure) is that every scene is my favorite. I can't be more effusive about what I consider to be one of the ideal old Hollywood films with the ideal cast. I will grant you that the costume design is more for looks than accuracy, and that Olivier's Darcy tilts his hand much sooner than the one in the book. However, Olivier is just so damn charming that the moments that depict Garson as having the upper hand endear the film to even the most ardent of literary fans. Their banter is absolutely yummy, and pulls you into an immersive classic film experience you'll enjoy again and agin. I promise you.

This DVD release has been restored from the best surviving elements and originally lensed on nitrate stock (!!!). If you don't already know what that means you should know that "nitrate" is as good as it gets for the presentation of classic, Black and White films. I promise you that fans of old Hollywood will be salivating at this point. The all new release of Pride and Prejudice arrives on Blu-ray sporting that special shine that glorious Black and White gets only on nitrate.

Special Features includes The Oscar-Nominated "Crime Does Not Pay" short Eyes of the Navy; the vintage cartoon, The Fishing Bear; and the film's theatrical trailer.


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