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 (Joan…  See more details below


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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Jane Eyre 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 19 reviews.
RockieinLA More than 1 year ago
Jane Eyre is certainly a classic novel; many of us have read it in high school or college English classes. It's no surprise to learn there are no less than 22 different versions [according to the Internet Movie Database (IMDb)], including 6 TV mini-series and even 2 weekly TV series. But this is the classic classic! Orson Welles is the dark and brooding Edward Rochester. Joan Fontaine is the shy and lonely Jane Eyre, an orphan banished by her unfeeling Aunt to a girl's school where she was regularly and cruelly punished. As two isolated loners, living outside the societal constraints of Victorian England, Orson Welles and Joan Fontaine capture the real essence of Rochester and Jane, both frightened creatures who have been dealt cruel blows by the people in their lives and dare not let anyone draw close enough to hurt them again. Still, as they gravitate toward to each other in their isolation, Fontaine seems to grow stronger and lovelier, while Welles displays a sort raw sex appeal few could match..and no one ever brooded more mysteriously! Though newer adaptations have used 'on location' footage and color cinematography, there is much to be said for the haunting B&W images of the English moors, candles in dark hallways, and unseen voices behind locked doors. A great film classic, and definitely "an essential" for the Old Hollywood buff!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Of all the many versions of Jane Eyre that I have seen this is by far the best. I consider it the benchmark by which all others must be judged.
Guest More than 1 year ago
There is no other Rochester but Orson Welles as there are no eyes more haunting or expressive as Joan Fontaine's as Jane. All other attempts at capturing this story have been futile. This dvd is a must have.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Orson Welles is the ONLY Rochester! This is the only JANE EYRE. The modern editions aren't worth watching. This version is the only film that faithfully evokes the mood of Bronte's classic novel. I first watched this film as a ten-year-old girl, and Jane Eyre became one of the books the influenced me to pursue first a BA in English Literature, then my Masters Degree, and finally a PhD. Watch the film and read the book; the same holds true for Emily Bronte's WUTHERING HEIGHTS. As with Welles in Jane Eyre; Olivier is the ONLY Heathcliff worth watching.
ElsieEyre More than 1 year ago
I believe that this Jane Eyre was good, but as for being thebest that is a long shot. The best is the lastest Jane Eyre released in 2011, i promise you'll love that one even more.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
mareatthemovies1 More than 1 year ago
I saw this film on the Turner Classic Moview channel. An excellent version of Bronte's book. The casting was perfect, especially Orson Welles, Joan
Fontaine, Peggy Ann Garner and Elizabeth Taylor. Agnes Moorehead and Sara Allgood were perfect as part of the supporting cast. Moorehead and Allgood were great character actresses during the 1940's. Allgood was terrific in "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir", 1947.

Besides, any movie with Orson Welles was great during his prime in the
late 1930's and early to late 1940's!!!
MagiSci More than 1 year ago
Superb direction, exemplary acting and beautifully filmed. This is a dark smoldering film. It's filled with all the social misery, class induced loneliness and religious depravity that was Victorian England. I own all of the versions of this film and this is definitely the best. A true classic!
Francesca47 More than 1 year ago
This is one of those films I remember from my childhood--so well acted and staged. It brought me back into another world very different from the one I knew. There was something very real about it as if it were a true story of a time gone by. Perhaps even though it is fiction parts of the story really did happen. The characters display a wide range of human conduct from the very best to the very worst. We can all in some way identify with the happenings that unfold in the story that we have experienced in out own lives.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Please release this on DVD. I am absolutely captured by this film.....and yes I also love Rebecca!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Truly amazing!!! great actors and good story you should watch REBECCA another great movie
Guest More than 1 year ago
as always, a sucessful adaptation requires that the movie be true to the book itself. if not dialouge-wise, then the film must capture at least the essence of it. Jane Eyre is one of the best movie adaptations i have ever seen. in the book, Edward Rochester is a dark and brooding man, with an incredible presence. Orson Welles supplies that to his character. Joan Fontaine portrays her character with sensitivity and steel, the perfect combination for Jane Eyre. this is also a movie that spreads through many different genres. it is a movie for mystery lovers, because of the mystery behind the door. the mystery is also solved tastefully, revealing just enough to keep the viewer interested. It is a drama because it is so dark. it is a love story, and a powerful one at that.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I recommend this movie to all those who love romance classics. this film is true to bronte's novel and both welles and fontaine capture the essence of rochester and eyre.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
More recent versions are better to watch.