JANE EYRE (1943)
In a nutshell:
Jane Eyre (Peggy Ann Garner) is an orphan. Because her aunt by marriage Sarah Reed (Agnes Moorehead) wants to get rid of the rebellious child she sends it to Lowood – a school headed by rigid Mr. Brocklehurst (Henry Daniell) whose very strict rules lead to the death of Jane’s only friend Helen (Elizabeth Taylor).
Years later the grown up – but still a bit stubborn - Jane (Joan Fontaine) starts to work as a governess for Adèle (Margaret O’Brien - speaking with a very cute French accent) at Thornfield Manor. Little Adèle is the ward of Mr. Edward Rochester (someone who resembles and sounds like Orson Welles .. ;"p .. ) – owner of Thornfield Manor and a bit uneasy to be with.
Watch out for:
- Elizabeth Taylor as Helen - her appearance is rather short and she is just sweet and not very much Martha of WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF?-ish. (->1966)
- Star of silent movies Mae Marsh as Leah.
- Hillary Brooks performance as Blanche Ingram - nasty lady that blonde.. Just btw - though she spoke through her whole career with an English accent - Miss Brooks actually hailed from Astoria, New York - she just wanted to have kind of a trade mark.. - isn't that simply marvellous?
- Agnes Moorehead – as always excellent – and I adore her saying “wicked”.. ;”)
- Henry Daniell as Mr. Brocklehurst – I love to hate that man! Honest: I think he is always great when he is mean!!
- Though you might get the impression while watching this film: the beginning which is read from the pages of a book called JANE EYRE (I wonder why..) – it is not the original beginning of the novel - so please don't try to impress someone by memorizing this as the novel's beginning.. ;")
- There are some relations with Daphne Du Maurier’s REBECCA (which is apparently loosely based on JANE EYRE): a plain looking and kind of mousy heroine, a hero who is a bit uneasy, dark secrets in his past, the very similar end.. – well, and Joan Fontaine played the heroine in JANE EYRE (1943) as well as in REBECCA (1940).
- This was Elizabeth Taylor’s third appearance in a movie - the 7th flick for Peggy Ann Garner and the 8th film Margaret O'Brien did.
- Joan Fontaine’s sister Olivia de Havilland played Charlotte Brontë in DEVOTION (1946).
The German title is DIE WAISE VON LOWOOD (= The orphan of Lowood) and it was released in Germany in 1947 - which is comparatively early: e.g. THE THIN MAN SERIES weren't released here till 1969..
- Edith Barret who personated Mrs. Fairfax – a lady of “a certain” age – was actually 36 – just ten years older than Miss Fontaine..
~ this, dear friends, is the Hollywood idea of a plain looking female.. *sigh* anyone carpooling with me to a plastic surgeon?? - maybe we'll get a group discount.. ~
Let’s face the music:
Bernard Herrmann who wrote the score for this film also used parts of this for the opera he started to write – WUTHERING HEIGHTS after the novel of Charlotte Brontë’s younger sister Emily…
- .. wish to know the story (well the main part..) of a classic novel – without fighting your way through a bit dull passages (yeah – I said it: There are passages in JANE EYRE that I found actually dull to read.. the whole passage about several chapters what Jane lives through after she left Thornfield Manor.. that really gave me a hard time.. I was very fine with the Rochester and gothic atmosphere parts though.. but after all I am more of a WUTHERING HEIGHTS girl.. )
- .. like your main characters not too lovely.
- .. want to see each and every movie in which little girls talk with phony French accents and try to make grownups watch them dancing.. (Yes, I am talking to you Miss O'Brien! Go to your room!! )
- .. have a soft spot for mad women.
- .. like mystery gothic romances.
Anyway: I love this story. I love that the heroine shouldn’t be overwhelming beautiful.
Yeah – it’s Joan Fontaine – not quite an unattractive woman.. that’s true.. but they at least tried to make her look a bit more boring.. Problem is: Joan Fontaine has a beautiful face! That lady looks like an angel!!
~ oh my gosh! This woman is incredibly ugly! Quick - lets give her an paper back to hide that grotesque face..
Yeah, sure... ~
The hero is supposed to be unattractive – which actually means: very attractive to yours Irene.. Yeah, ok.. Orson Welles isn’t really my cup of anything.. I am struggling with myself whether I do like him or not.. – but he doesn't look like Orson Welles and it's Rochester and it's mighty dark in the halls of Thornfield Manor.. – anyway: it’s the thought that counts, isn’t it?
I love the scene in which Jane is thinking that she hears Mr. Rochester calling for her in the thunderstorm – actually it makes me always a bit chuckling.. which can be related to the pathos in it.. And I simply adore Mr. Rochester’s Great Dane Pilot.