David Rintoul’s Performance Costs this 1980 BBC Production
This is an excellent version of Pride and Prejudice second only to the lauded and beloved 1995 production. Elizabeth Garvie’s “fine eyes” and bright performance are a standout. She is lovely and likable. I would put it on par with Jennifer Ehle’s interpretation. Unfortunately, David Rintoul’s performance is a real hindrance. He is as stiff and expressionless as a two by four. He moves through the film like a Zombie. This would have been fine for most of the production, but he almost never unbends to show us his true colors at the end. He only smiles when he is inviting Mr. Gardiner to go fishing, and even then he looks like his face would crack from the effort. Darcy must be shown to have evolved into someone Elizabeth could love and like. Colin Firth revealed Darcy to be shy as well as proud and it was a charming portrayal. Mathew McFayden was almost heartbreaking in the 2005 version. For much of his portrayal, I was looking forward to the change when Darcy finally melts. I was very disappointed. What a lost opportunity! It was very vexing! All of the other actors stand up quite well to the classic, especially Jane, and Mr. Collins. Jane is, in this version, much more the beauty she is described to be. Susanna Harker in the 1995 version is attractive and interesting looking but she is not really a beauty, in my opinion. I do prefer the more comedic performance of Alison Steadman as Mrs. Bennet. The wonderful Julia Salwaha killed as Lydia, and unfortunately, Natalie Ogle’s performance was not up to snuff by comparison.
I have watched this multiple times and it stacks up against every version of this classic of the Austen genre, which is unusual as it was made in the days of stage-like production values. It would have taken just an extra 5 seconds to make this almost perfect. If only…. **8 out of 10 stars**
August 4, 2017