Jane Austen’s beloved story of the headstrong Elizabeth Bennett and the arrogant Mr. Darcy is one of the most popular and influential books ever written. Pretty much any story that involves a couple who battle until they fall in love is based in part on Austen’s story. There are many movie versions, but the best are:
Pride and Prejudice (1940): The classic Hollywood version won an Oscar for art direction and features an all-star cast, including Greer Garson as Elizabeth and Sir Laurence Olivier as Darcy. Maureen O’Sullivan (Mia Farrow’s mother) is a lovely Jane and Edna May Oliver is a wonderfully haughty Lady Catherine de Bourgh. The witty script was written by the legendary Aldous Huxley, but I can’t forgive him for one important departure from the book in softening the Lady Catherine scene.
Pride and Prejudice (1995 mini-series): This is a magnificent version of the story, long enough to include all of the book’s most important scenes and characters. Colin Firth makes a sensational Darcy (the addition of a scene where he cools off by diving into a lake caused some controversy but was popular with the fans) and Jennifer Ehle (an American actress who can be seen with Firth in “The King’s Speech” and also appears in “Zero Dark Thirty”) has the “fine eyes” Austen described.
Pride & Prejudice (2005) Director Joe Wright directed a magnificently natural version of the story starring Kiera Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen (who play brother and sister in his latest film, “Anna Karenina.”)