Tagline – A Love Story Every Woman Would Die A Thousand Deaths To Live!
Starring – Orson Welles (Edward Rochester), Joan Fontaine (Jane Eyre), Margaret O’Brien (Adele Varens), Peggy Ann Garner (Young Jane Eyre), John Sutton (Dr. Rivers), Sara Allgood (Bessie), Agnes Moorehead (Mrs. Reed).
Released – April, 1944
Directed By – Robert Stevenson
Produced By – Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Distributed By – Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Description – A classic adaptation of Charlotte Bronte’s 1847 novel of the same name. The films beginning offers a voice over by Jane Eyre that sets the stage for the film.
“My name is Jane Eyre… I was born in 1820, a harsh time of change in England. Money and position seemed all that mattered. Charity was a cold and disagreeable word. Religion too often wore a mask of bigotry and cruelty. There was no place for the poor, or the unfortunate. I had no father or mother, brother or sister. As a child I lived with my aunt, Mrs. Reed of Gateshead Hall. I do not remember that she ever spoke one kind word to me.”
Arriving at Thornfield Hall, the very plain and poor Jane Eyre, is to become the governess to the young ward of Edward Rochester, a French girl named Adele.
Having been denied the emotion of love for her entire life, Jane finds herself attracted to the vibrant and intelligent Rochester despite the fact that he is twice her age. She is delighted with the fact that Mr. Rochester is beginning to show signs of affection towards her.
That is until Mr. Rochester attends a party at the home of the beautiful and wealthy Blanche Ingram. The entire winter passes without his return and then Jane is informed that Rochester will being returning to Thornfield Hall with Miss Ingram and it appears as though they will marry.
Jane also finds out that Miss Ingram intends to send Adele away after the marriage. However, it doesn’t take long for Mr. Rochester to realize that Blanche Ingram may only be interested in marrying him for his money and he breaks their engagement.
Sensing her opportunity, Jane confesses her love for him and he is delighted with the news. But, another dark cloud appears when Jane learns that Rochester may already be married… to a mad woman.
Thornfield Hall harbors more secrets that will threaten the happiness of everyone
NOTABLE: Orson Welles recreation of the Yorkshire Moors was highly acclaimed. Filmed entirely in Hollywood, the long shadows and heavy fog added the air of a Gothic novel.
Director Robert Stevenson was a member of the Charlotte Bronte Society.
Orson Welles hard work behind the scenes was so impressive that he was offered a producer credit. He turned it down, stating that a person who is not also directing the film shouldn’t be “just” a producer.
Joan Fontaine’s sister, Olivia de Havilland, went on to portray Charlotte Brontë (the author of “Jane Eyre”), in the 1946 film Devotion.