Saturday, 27 August 2011

“They may not admire my person but I assure you, they dote on my purse.”

Sometimes I struggle with my looks.. I am used to that.. Sometimes I struggle with the looks of Hollywoodstars - especially when they are supposed to be ugly - and still look gorgeous.. - or when the make-up-department changes some familiar and usually very distinctive faces - e.g. look at this nose:

This, dear friends, is your hint for the film I am going to talk about.. Any ideas yet?

Hm.. ok...

Then I'll go on:

Once upon a time.. ..Charlotte Brontë wrote a book which became a beloved classic and which was adapted for the big screen several times – one time it was rewritten by the great Aldous Huxley, John Houseman and Robert Stevenson, who was a member of the Brontë-society - and who also directed the film, which was brought to you by 20th Century Fox. You might know it:

JANE EYRE (1943)

hm.. this film poster seems to give the wrong oomph!pression..

not much better.. Still floating hair and a naked shoulder?? Please! This isn't Brontë-porn, folks!

aah - yes, that's the kind of image that fits it at least a bit better...

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.

Nevertheless he and Jane go very well with each other and finally fall in love – but there are some obstacles: like the very pretty heiress Blanche (Hillary Brooke) who is after Mr. Rochester and there is also a dark secret in Mr. Rochester’s past, which might be related to the strange screams at night and the accident which almost burned Mr. Rochester during his sleep…

~ you think this is the final scene? Ha! You have no idea... ~

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.

~ Look: other females have hairstyles
Peggy Ann Garner and yours Irene just have hair.. ~

  • 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

You should watch this film if you..

  • .. 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!! )
~ awww... look at all these fluffy frills.. Somewhere in there is a child - I am pretty sure of that..~
  • .. have a soft spot for mad women.

  • .. like mystery gothic romances.

Quotes corner:

Maybe one of the best-known-literary-children-quotes ever - when asked how to avoid to end in hell little Jane Eyre answers:

I must keep in good health and not die.

No more questions, your honor...

Never ending story:

There are soo many adaptations of this novel - I just learned that I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE (1943) is losely based on it, too.. Great idea for a double feature show, isn't it?

Let's have a look:

~Don’t you just adore that girl in the beginning of the clip – and all those novels?? I love that! ~

Uhm.. ok. I got to confess that – not caring about what you will be thinking of me..: I am mesmerized by Orson Welles' fake nose in this film! I am frequently staring at him..

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.

And though this film has with Joan Fontaine, Elizabeth Taylor and Agnes Moorehead three of my favourite actresses and I love it – I still must confess, that this isn’t my favourite version of JANE EYRE – that would be the 1996 version with Ciarán Hinds as Mr. Rochester..

..well, till now that is.. – because the 2011 version will released in Germany not before December – it was aired in the USA in March.. (!!! – IN FRIGGIN MARCH!!! .. ~ curse you, German cinemas!!! ~) anyway - this could change everything:

Because Mr. Rochester is personated by one of my modern favourites: Michael Fassbender – plus one of my favourite modern actresses Sally Hawkins is in it, too – yeah.. a great cast beside them with Judi Dench, Jamie Bell and Mia Wasikowska – but: aren’t you listening?? Michael Fassbender!! Blimey.. Hm.. I think I know one film I will write about in December – in case it will be actually in German cinemas then.. Oh! Woe is me..

Well, till then I still can watch this very cute version of JANE EYRE with such a beautiful cast - and so many great talents. Maybe woe isn't that much me..

~ Don't you just love this picture? Looks like Orson Welles told Joan Fontaine a dirty joke - and she is not amused.. ~

The End? - Wait and watch..

Thank you very much for listening!

Yours (very well and ) truly


- not even plain looking in a Joan Fontaine way..


  1. First of all, thank you for the lovely comment you left on my blog. By your sweet words you let me know that you actually enjoy my longwinded, rambling comments. Yes, I AM a wordy person...I guess that's why I'm a writer, huh?

    Anyhow, about this post. First of all, I have to admit, I've never read the novel. Also, I've never seen any of the other versions (including the new one). And, I don't profess to be an Orson Welles fan. That said, I LOVED this movie, and I thought Orson Welles was totally fantastic. I can't imagine anyone doing better in that role. (Since I enjoy Ciaran Hands in other BBC films, I will have to take your recommendation and see that version.)

    I thought the casting was perfect in this film. Even so far as the casting of Peggy Ann Garner. I could actually see her growing up to look just like Joan Fontaine.

    Wishing you a great day,

  2. I really enjoyed reading your well written review on the film, Jane Eyre. The cinematography and the wonderful acting performances, in this film is what make this one of the great films. I think this maybe my favorite Welles romantic leading role. Fontaine, is sooo wonderful playing a understated character. I also, will never forget Elizabeth Taylor's performances, as Jane's doomed friend Helen.

  3. I loved this version of Jane Eyre. It was the first film adaptation I saw of the book. And I was always under the impression that Orson Wells was terribly unattractive, but I actually thought he was okay looking in this one.

    The Ciaran Hinds version is also a favorite, as well as the Charlotte Gainsburg (sp?)/William Hurt version. I have not seen the new one yet, but I love, love, love Michael Fassbender!

    Great post, Irene!

  4. Can I say AMAZING! What a wonderful post Irene. Really exceptional. Makes me want to see this film immediately. Thanks for all the extra tidbits and info about it as well. And can I say how much love contributing to your wonderful blog.

  5. First of all: Thank you all for such nice comments - I have the urgent feeling to hug someone right now... You are wonderful people!!

    Patti: Thank you very much. I think wordy is good.. Did you see Ciarán Hinds in PERSUASION?? (just: "Blimey..", right?) ;")

    I agree - the casting of Peggy Ann Garner was a very good move.

    Dawn: Thank you, too! A great cast - I agree! And Elizabeth Taylor was in my opinion never a CHILD actress..

    Michelle: Yeah! Me, too!! I suddenly found myself thinking about Orson Welles.. which was kind of alarming.. ;")

    I think the Charlotte Gainsbourg version was the first time I "met" Anna Paquin..

    Interesting about your also love, love, love for Michael Fassbender.. (mhmmm...) We agree in our tastes quite a lot.. ;") That's nice. and: thank you, too!

    Monty: Awwww... Thank you! I love to have you here! I think it's quite an honour to be in a team with you.

  6. Dear Irene, ok your amazing! Love this whole Jane Eyre page! I've read Jane Eyre many times & have seen all the versions that have been made. By far I prefer the Ciaran Hinds movie, I LOVE HIM...ok I admit hes the best Mr. Rochester in my humble opinion! I'm so glad I found your blog, first thru Marty, but now I plan to look at all the cool movie reviews you've done! You really do a wonderful job & your sense of humor is great! Thank you! Becky

    1. Awwww.. Thank you so much, Becky poulin! The Ciarán Hinds version is awesome!! Love him, too!! :")

      Thank you for leaving all those kind comments! It's great to know that some people out there read and like my posts (-and my kind of humour..)! :")

  7. Thanks to share these best tips.


I really appreciate your comments - I'll read them all and if I can think of an answer I'll post it. :")