Jane Eyre
  • Jane Eyre
  • Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre

4.4 19
Director: Robert Stevenson

Cast: Orson Welles, Joan Fontaine, Margaret O'Brien


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Director Robert Stevenson collaborated with novelist Aldous Huxley and theatrical-producer John Houseman on the screenplay for this 1944 adaptation of Charlotte Bronte's gothic romance Jane Eyre. After several harrowing years in an orphanage, where she was placed by a supercilious relative for exhibiting the forbidden trait of "willfulness," Jane Eyre (JoanSee more details below

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Director Robert Stevenson collaborated with novelist Aldous Huxley and theatrical-producer John Houseman on the screenplay for this 1944 adaptation of Charlotte Bronte's gothic romance Jane Eyre. After several harrowing years in an orphanage, where she was placed by a supercilious relative for exhibiting the forbidden trait of "willfulness," Jane Eyre (Joan Fontaine) secures work as a governess. Her little charge, French-accented Adele (Margaret O'Brien), is pleasant enough. But Jane's employer, the brooding, tormented Edward Rochester (Orson Welles), terrifies the prim young governess. Under Jane's gentle influence, Rochester drops his forbidding veneer, going so far as to propose marriage to Jane. But they are forbidden connubial happiness when it is revealed that Rochester is still married to a gibbering lunatic whom he is forced to keep locked in his attic. Rochester reluctantly sends Jane away, but she returns, only to find that the insane wife has burned down the mansion and rendered Rochester sightless. In the tradition of Victorian romances, this purges Rochester of any previous sins, making him a worthy mate for the loving Jane. The presence of Orson Welles in the cast (he receives top billing), coupled with the dark, Germanic style of the direction and photography, has led some impressionable cineasts to conclude that Welles, and not Stevenson, was the director. To be sure, Welles contributed ideas throughout the filming; also, the script was heavily influenced by the Mercury Theater on the Air radio version of Jane Eyre, on which Welles, John Houseman and musical director Bernard Herrmann all collaborated. But Jane Eyre was made at 20th Century-Fox, a studio disinclined to promote the auteur theory; like most Fox productions, this is a work by committee rather than the product of one man. This in no way detracts from the overall excellence of the film; of all adaptations of Jane Eyre (it had previously been filmed in 1913, 1915 and 1921, and has been remade several times since), this 1943 version is one of the best. Keep an eye out for an uncredited Elizabeth Taylor as the consumptive orphanage friend of young Jane Eyre (played as child by Peggy Ann Gardner).

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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Craig Butler
Jane Eyre is a marvelous adaptation of the Charlotte Bronte classic. While it necessarily has to leave out portions of the novel, it does an excellent job of capturing its flavor, as screenwriters Robert Stevenson, John Houseman, and Aldous Huxley have been careful and judicious in selecting the most important elements to transfer to the screen. Stevenson's direction is among the best of his career, creating senses of atmosphere -- from the oppressive soul-breaking of the orphanage to the strangely beautiful terror of the moors -- that practically fly off the screen. He is greatly aided by George Barnes' expressive, evocative cinematography and Bernard Herrmann's haunting and emotional score. His biggest help, however, comes from stars Orson Welles and Joan Fontaine, both individually and together. Welles' is the more obviously impressive performance, possessed of an overpowering broodiness that masks his character's tortured soul. Calibrating his role with moments of great tenderness, Welles conveys the contradictions in Edward Rochester with ease. Fontaine's role is less flashy, but she brings a quiet conviction to the part that helps anchor the film; her Jane may not bluster and storm as Rochester, but she is every bit as powerful in her own way. Together, the two display a welcome chemistry without which the movie would fail.
New York Times
"This well-produced disc has much to recommend it, including two world-class villains, played by [Agnes] Moorehead and the incomparably snide Henry Daniell, and a startling appearance by an unbilled, very young Elizabeth Taylor, her perfect adult face perched on a tiny body, as Jane’s one childhood friend."

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
20th Century Fox
Region Code:
[B&W, Full Frame]
Sales rank:

Special Features

Audio commentary by Orson Welles biographer Joseph McBride and actress Margaret O'Brien; Audio commentary with film historians Nick Redman, Steven Smith and Julie Kirgo; Isolated score & f/x track; Locked in the Tower: The Men Behind Jane Eyre featurette; Know Your Ally Britian: United States War Department film directed by Robert Stevenson; Restoration comparison; Original theatrical trailer; Production, storyboard and poster galleries

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Orson Welles Edward Rochester
Joan Fontaine Jane Eyre
Margaret O'Brien Adele Varens
Peggy Ann Garner Jane as a child
John Sutton Dr. Rivers
Henry Daniell Brockelhurst
Agnes Moorehead Mrs. Reed
Sara Allgood Bessie
Elizabeth Taylor Helen Burns
Aubrey Mather Col. Dent
Edith Barrett Mrs. Fairfax
Barbara Everest Lady Ingraham
Hillary Brooke Blanche Ingram
Ethel Griffies Grace Poole
Mae Marsh Leah
Eily Malyon Mrs. Sketcher
John Abbott Mason
Ronald Harris John
Charles Irwin Auctioneer
Billy Bevan Bookie
Ruth Brady Girl at Party
Colin Campbell Proprietor
David Clyde Guard
Charles Coleman Guard
Alec Craig Footman
Alan Edmiston Dealer
Jean Fenwick Guest
Mary Forbes Mrs. Eshton
Arthur E. Gould-Porter Young Man
Brandon Hurst Trustee
Adele Jergens Girl at Party
George Kirby Old Gentleman
Thomas Lockyear Sir George Lynn
Gwendolen Logan Dowager
Moyna MacGill Dowager
Barry Macollum Trustee
John Meredith Guest
Roseanne Murray Guest
Tempe Piggott Fortune Teller
Nancy June Robinson Girl
Marion Rosamond Guest
Erskine Sanford Mr. Braggs
Billie Seward Girls at Party
Yorke Sherwood Beadle
Ivan Simpson Mr. Woods
Gerald Oliver Smith Footman at Gateshead
Leslie Vincent Guest
Frederic Worlock Waiter
Eustace Wyatt Dr. Carter

Technical Credits
Robert Stevenson Director,Screenwriter
George Barnes Cinematographer
James Basevi Art Director
Charlotte Brontë Source Author
Ross Dowd Set Decoration/Design
W.D. Flick Sound/Sound Designer
William Goetz Producer
Roger Heman Sound/Sound Designer
Bernard Herrmann Score Composer
John Houseman Screenwriter
Rene Hubert Costumes/Costume Designer
Aldous Huxley Screenwriter
Wiard Ihnen Art Director
Thomas K. Little Set Decoration/Design
Guy Pearce Makeup
William L. Pereira Production Designer
Fred Sersen Special Effects
Walter Thompson Editor

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Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Jane Eyre
1. Main Titles [1:25]
2. My Name is Jane Eyre [5:08]
3. Lowood [3:51]
4. A Friend [10:34]
5. A Governess [10:10]
6. Mr. Rochester [8:03]
7. A Difference of Opinion [5:41]
8. Madness in the Night [7:36]
9. House Guests [9:33]
10. Behind Closed Doors [7:31]
11. Jane's Request [5:30]
12. Love [3:09]
13. An Impediment [5:49]
14. Jane Says Goodbye [1:14]
15. A Visit to Bessie [5:34]
16. Return to Thornfield [5:19]

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