Studio photograph, Pride and Prejudice (1940)

Object name: Original studio photograph of Greer Garson and Laurence Olivier in Pride and Prejudice (1940)

Object number: CHWJA:JAH469

Category: Object

Description: Original portrait still of Greer Garson and Laurence Olivier in MGM’s 1940 film Pride and Prejudice. Double weight glossy photo by studio photographer Clarence Bull with his stamp on the back (along with studio stamps).

Made: 1940

Context: The first Hollywood film of a Jane Austen novel was MGM’s lavish adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, directed by Robert Z. Leonard and starring Laurence Olivier and Greer Garson, which opened in cinemas on 26 July 1940.

The screenplay, written by Aldous Huxley and Jane Murfin, was specifically adapted from the stage adaptation by Helen Jerome as well as Jane Austen’s novel. Jerome’s adaptation put more focus on Mr Darcy than the original novel had done, turning him into a sexy heartthrob. Laurence Olivier’s performance cemented the idea that Darcy was a sex symbol. For many viewers he epitomised Mr Darcy right up until 1995, when Colin Firth took on the role for the BBC.

The film received both high praise and disparaging criticism. The New York Times praised it as ‘the most deliciously pert comedy of old manners, the most crisp and crackling satire in costume that we in this corner can remember ever having seen on the screen’, whilst others derided its extraordinary costumes and divergences from Jane Austen’s lines and plot.

Other objects you might like: