Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Watching Other Janes

Today I thought I would share with you my thoughts on early adaptations of Jane Eyre. The 1934 adaptation starring Colin Clive and Virginia Bruce, and the 1944 adaptation starring Orson Welles and Joan Fontaine.

The 1934 adaptation is almost comical. I'm not sure comedy was the intent, but this adaptation is only an hour and five minutes!!!! If you found some of the newer adaptations rushed (2011, 1996, 1997, etc.) then you may not believe how condensed it can be. There is also something awkward about this adaptation. Virginia Bruce is just not convincing as Jane Eyre. Not in any way. (And I really wish her clothes had fit her. The costumes just do not hang right on her, they just don't fit. OR else they were trying really hard to make them as unflattering to her as possible.) I could talk about all the hundreds of details that just weren't right about this edition, or you could watch for yourself.  But despite all that, I do consider it worth watching...if you're a big Jane Eyre fan! OR if you just want a GOOD laugh!!!!

Jane Eyre meets Mr. Rochester *before* she even meets Mrs. Fairfax or Adele
Jane (in a frilly dress) has her first conversation with Mr. Rochester and sings 
Naughty Adele in a Tree
Jane Puts Out the Fire All On Her Own
Adele being absolutely ridiculous in front of the guests but charming too
Mr. Rochester tricks Jane leading to the...  Proposal
Now this certainly wasn't in the book....OR...this Bertha doesn't quite look crazy

I recently rewatched the 1944 adaptation of Jane Eyre starring Orson Welles and Joan Fontaine. I watched it at the first of the year and liked it, this time I may even have loved it. I think I appreciated Orson Welles' Mr. Rochester even more than before. One thing I've come to appreciate are the scenes between Jane and Edward. Particularly the oh-so-crucial scene between them after the big reveal. Orson Welles got this just right. He wasn't absurdly violent, he wasn't abusive; his heart ache and pain was transparent. He was full of sorrow and regret. Anyway, I thought this adaptation was great in the romance department. Passion, romance, drama, this movie has it in abundance. And this adaptation even features Jane as a child, even takes time to have her become good friends with Helen. True this one doesn't have her cousins or her inheritance. No St. John Rivers to propose marriage giving Jane Eyre an alternative. But. It does have John Sutton as "Dr. Rivers" the man responsible for saving the young Jane from her misery. Is it melodramatic? Yes. Is it entertaining? Yes!!! Is it worth watching?! Definitely!!!

I also appreciate this adaptation because of the childhood scenes we get with Jane, Helen, Mr. Brocklehurst, Mrs. Reed, and Dr. Rivers. I really enjoyed Agnes Moorehead as Mrs. Reed--she was wonderful! And Henry Daniell as Mr. Brocklehurst, well, he's so brilliant at being evil!!! (Helen is played with Elizabeth Taylor, and she is quite angelic.)

Jane Eyre meets Mr. Rochester
The Oh-so-dramatic proposal 
The Happy Ending

I also watched a television adaption from 1949 starring Mary Sinclair as Jane Eyre and Charlton Heston as Edward Rochester. This may just be the worst Jane Eyre ever. It just doesn't work on any level. It's not entertaining; it's not believable as a drama, horror, or comedy. It takes an incredible amount of liberties with the book. There's not one character that is believable or likable in this production. Was it the acting? Was it the script-writing? I'm not sure. But I do think it's sad that the two commercials for Westinghouse products--the first for an electric range with not one but two ovens, and an electric sheet so you don't have to sleep with twelve pounds of blankets to stay warm--are more interesting than the drama itself.

Part one, part two, part three, part four.

© 2012 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


CharmedLassie 5:54 PM  

Watched the 1944 adaptation a few months ago and rather liked it. There were very good scenes, obvious deviations, but an overall sense of loyalty to the story.

Becky 6:12 PM  

CharmedLassie, of the three the Orson Welles one is by far the best. I really, really, really, really like it actually. It's not technically as faithful to the book as some other adaptations, but what it has it has in abundance CHARISMA. It just works as film!,  9:22 AM  

Nice looks at those old Jane Eyre films. The 1934 is a real crackup! I haven't seen the Heston version - and after reading your review, I don't especially want to, but will try to find it for the sake of completeness. Please visit my site for reviews of other Jane Eyre movies:

Becky 9:42 AM  

Here's the link to the whole 1949 film. I really enjoyed your website!!! I'm also trying to watch as many adaptations as possible.

Post a Comment

I'm always happy to hear from you! To help fight spam, comment moderation has been set up for posts older than two days. Feel free to ask me questions or ask for recommendations!

Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
  • Historical fiction set in the Tudor dynasty
  • Historical fiction and nonfiction set during World War II
  • Jewish fiction/nonfiction
  • dystopias
  • apocalyptic fiction
  • science fiction (especially if it involves time travel and alternate realities)
  • fantasy
  • multicultural books and international books

I am not a fan of:

  • sports books
  • horse books
  • dog books if the dog dies (same goes with most pets actually except maybe fish)
  • westerns (if it's a pioneer story with women and children, then maybe)
  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

If you're interested in sending me a review copy of your book, I'm happy to hear from you. Email me at laney_po AT yahoo DOT com.

You should know several things before you contact me:

1) I do not guarantee a review of your book. I am just agreeing to consider it for review.
2) I give all books at least fifty pages.
3) I am not promising anyone (author or publisher) a positive review in exchange for a review copy. That's not how I work.
4) In all of my reviews I strive for honesty. My reviews are my opinions--so yes, they are subjective--you should know my blog will feature both negative and positive reviews.
5) I do not guarantee that I will get to your book immediately. I've got so many books I'm trying to read and review, I can't promise to get to any one book in a given time frame.
6) Emailing me every other week to see if I've read your book won't help me get to it any faster. Though if you want to email me to check and see if it arrived safely, then that's fine!

Authors, publishers. I am interested in interviewing authors and participating in blog tours. (All I ask is that I receive a review copy of the author's latest book beforehand so the interview will be productive. If the book is part of a series, I'd like to review the whole series.) Contact me if you're interested.

Unique Visitors and Google PR Rank

Free PageRank Checker

2018 Kitty Lit Challenge

2018 Kitty Lit Challenge
Link to sign-up page

Join the Victorian Reading Challenge

Join the Victorian Reading Challenge
Linked to sign up page

Family Tree Reading Challenge

Family Tree Reading Challenge
Link to sign-up page

2018 Share-a-Tea Challenge

2018 Share-a-Tea Challenge
Linked To Sign Up Page

2018 Charity Challenge (Sign Up)

2018 Good Rule Reading Challenge

2018 Good Rule Reading Challenge
Link to sign up page

2018 Picture Book Challenge

2018 Picture Book Challenge
Link to sign-up page

Join the 2018 Middle Grade Reading Challenge

Join the 2018 Middle Grade Reading Challenge
click image to go to sign up post

Good Rules Cheat List

Board books and picture books = new is anything published after 2013
Early readers and chapter books = new is anything published after 2013
Contemporary (general/realistic) = new is anything published after 2007
Speculative fiction (sci-fi/fantasy = new is anything published after 2007
Classics = anything published before 1968
Historical fiction = new is anything published after 2007
Mysteries = new is anything published after 1988
Nonfiction = new is anything published after 2007
Christian books = new is anything published after 2000
Bibles = new is anything published after 1989

My Blog List

(Old) Challenge Participants

Becky's Hosting These Challenges

100 Books Project: Fill in the Gaps

Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

  © Blogger template Newspaper III by 2008

Back to TOP