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Sunday, June 21

Jane Austen Movie Throwdown

Today is Father's Day and so I should like to honor one of our favorite Jane Austen characters: Mr. Bennet. Which actor depicted him best in recent P&P adaptations? Donald Sutherland, Benjamin Whitlow, or Hugh Bonneville? You decide and let us know who is your

Favorite Mr. Bennet

Benjamin Whitrow, 1995 Pride and Prejudice

Ironic, gentle, but deadly, Mr. Whitrow spoke practically every line that Mr. Bennet uttered in Pride and Prejudice, and stole nearly every scene in which he appeared in this classic 6-hour production. A handsome older gent with a mild, self-depecrating demeanor, I never tire of watching him.

Some of Mr. Whitrow's memorable lines include: I am heartily ashamed of myself, Lizzy. But don't despair; it'll pass, and no doubt more quickly than it should," and "Til you or your sister Jane return, I shall not hear two words of sense spoken together."

Donald Sutherland, 2005 Pride and Prejudice

With his performance as an earthier Mr. Bennet who, while he might aim verbal barbs at his silly wife, still lusts after her body, Donald Sutherland finally erased my image of him as MASH's Hawkeye Pierce. A Canadian who felt quite at ease playing an English gentleman, Donald's been one busy actor since the mid-1960s.

Some of Donald's memorable lines include: "Well, if Jane does die, it will be a comfort to know she was in pursuit of Mr. Bingley," and "Your mother will never see you again if you do not marry Mr. Collins... And I will never see you again if you do."

Hugh Bonneville, Lost in Austen, 2007

Three Mr. Bennets, you say? Well, yes, for Hugh Bonneville's Mr. Bennet remained true to Jane Austen's character. This spoof on time travel and Pride and Prejudice provided a satiric romp through Regency England, and Hugh's performance as a more befuddled Mr. Bennet contributed hugely to the fun. I might also add that of the three Mr. Bennets, Hugh was probably closer in age to the character than Mr. Sutherland, who was in his 70's and old enough to be the girls' grandfather, or Mr. Whitlow, who, on reflection, also seemed a tad long in the tooth when he portrayed Mr. Bennet.

Some of Hugh's more memorable and completely made up quotes include: "Happy? That my kindest, prettiest daughter has embarked upon an adulthood of suffication to such a preening Caliban? Happy, Madam - that she should live in subjugation to such an enormity? I would rather sleep in a drain than consent to be happy!," and " [after Lady Catherine and Mr. Collins leave] Tonight Mrs. Bennet, with your permission, I think I shall sleep in our bedroom." free polls
Favorite Mr. Bennet
Benjamin Whitlow Donald Sutherland Hugh Bonneville


Lynn said...

Benjamin Whitlow's voice and face is who I see and hear when I read P&P now. He is delightful as Mr. Bennet. His charm comes thru in every scene and his asides about others are hilarious to hear and see. In short, he's perfect in my book !

Donald is too old and I did not like him in the part...Hugh, I felt was too young for the role, just my opinions...throwdowns are my favorites...thank you !

Linda said...

I loved Donald Sutherland, but I also loved this version of P&P. Linda

Deb said...

I agree with Lynn! Whitlow is the perfect Mr. Bennet--Jane would have thoroughly approved. I very much liked Hugh in the role (as I have in the other roles he's had with Jane flicks) but I like to think that Mr. Bennet was a bit less befuddled!! Donald was too, too much--almost comical. And definitely too old.

Deb said...

Oops--isn't it Whitrow? Suddenly I was thinking Whitlow doesn't seem right??

Charleybrown said...

The first person that popped into mind was Benjamin Whitrow! He defined Mr B for me. I totally forgot about my dear Mr Bonneville playing that part and his performance was one of the highlights of Lost in Austen but I still have to go with Benjamin!

Heather Carroll said...

I've debated this before with friends, and I simply can't decide. They all did so well with the part. It's amazing how they were able to stay true yet be so different!

Vic said...

My apologies for the misspelling, which I invariably seem to do in Mr. Whitrow's case. The mistake is unpardonable and I ask for Mr. Whitrow's forgiveness. Vic

Lynn said...

Apologies from me too on the misspelling...Thanks Deb !

Lorraine said...

Whitlow is my favorite Mr Bennet from all the P/P adaptations. Second is Moray Watson from the 1980 adaptation. They both had the "wryness" that I expect.

Ginger said...

Benjamin Whitrow nicely captured Mr. Bennett's wit, affection for Lizzy, and frustration with his addled wife. He was maybe a shade too nice, and definitely a bit too old. Hugh Bonneville was actually an excellent Mr. Bennett, and would be my second choice. Donald Sutherland was amusing in the role, but came off as too weary.