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Jane Eyre [VHS] (1944)

Orson Welles , Joan Fontaine , Robert Stevenson  |  NR |  VHS Tape
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (197 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Orson Welles, Joan Fontaine, Margaret O'Brien, Peggy Ann Garner, John Sutton
  • Directors: Robert Stevenson
  • Writers: Robert Stevenson, Aldous Huxley, Charlotte Brontė, Henry Koster, John Houseman
  • Producers: Kenneth Macgowan
  • Format: Black & White, Closed-captioned, NTSC
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • Studio: 20th Century Fox
  • VHS Release Date: January 1, 1998
  • Run Time: 97 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (197 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6302878535
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #144,777 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

Made two years after Citizen Kane, this 1943 version of Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre sure looks like star Orson Welles muscled his way behind the camera much of the time. (In fact, costar Joan Fontaine--who plays the title character--has maintained that Welles methodically did just that every day on the set.) Not that the film's official director was a hack: Robert Stevenson, who later had a busy career at Disney making numerous live-action hits for the studio, such as Mary Poppins, gets the credit. But there's no mistaking Welles's masterful hand in the film's bold and creative look, and there's no getting away from his enigmatic charisma as Rochester, the widower who takes in Jane as a governess to his daughter. An engrossing, gorgeous film, there's even a small role for Elizabeth Taylor at the beginning as Jane's unlucky, doomed friend at a cruel boarding school. --Tom Keogh


Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
72 of 74 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Overall Best film version of JANE EYRE July 24, 2006
Format:VHS Tape
I've been having a "Jane Eyre-athon." There are many good versions of this gothic story of the fight between worldliness and virtue. Many have one really outstanding element, but this version, with Orson Welles and Joan Fontaine remains overall the best. Like most, it eliminates much of the second half of the book, which is the really important part for Bronte, who is one of the finest religious thinkers of her age. There are so many bests in this version, it will always be hard to top for getting Bronte right.

This version was shot when black and white filmmaking was at it's best, and Fox was known as the best at noir/gothic, with velvety blacks, and really crisp lighting and shading. One thing that helps this film be better is that it has the best script (by Huxley, Stevenson and Houseman). The script transitions well, and really captures the major emotional elements of the story. This version also has the best child Jane (Peggy Ann Gardner). I agree with many that Zelah Clarke (Jane in the 1983 miniseries) is probably the definitive adult Jane, but Joan Fontaine is equally fine, and many people will simply not sit through the slow miniseries. Joan Fontaine has a real sense of refined restraint that seems very natural, and her strength is not so much in knowing she is strong, but overcoming her weakness. That is a very important mental/emotional component for getting Jane right.

Orson Welles is beefy and sexy, and plays every note of Rochester perfectly. If he is a bit too young for the role, that is the only flaw. While I feel that Cirian Hinds (the 1997 film version) is the best Rochester, Welles performance equals him.
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139 of 149 people found the following review helpful
Format:VHS Tape
I was induced to read Charlotte Bronte's "Jane Eyre," a beloved literary classic, at the relatively early age of eleven - all because I saw this movie. I stayed-up late on a Saturday night, with my favorite aunt as company, and we watched the 1944 version of Jane Eyre, with Jane Fontaine and Orson Welles, on TV. At the conclusion, I noticed I had cried my way through a box of tissues and had become a fan forever. The next day I visited the library. Although I have seen three or four cinematic interpretations of "Jane Eyre" since that time, Director Robert Stevenson's production, co-written for the screen by Aldous Huxley, John Houseman, and Mr. Stevenson is by far my favorite. The writers and director remained faithful to Miss Bronte's magnificent work and brought this darkly gothic drama to life on the big screen. Filmed in black and white, using noir techniques from the German Expressionist school, (chiaroscuro lighting, surrealistic settings, etc.), the movie's gothic nature is emphasized and a forbidding mood is set early on. I always wondered if Orson Welles had anything to do with the direction. I sense his influence throughout the piece.

The story is set in England's North Country in the mid-nineteenth century. Orphaned as an infant, Jane (Peggy Ann Garner as young Jane), is taken in and cared for by her aunt, the mean spirited Mrs. Reed of Gateshead Hall, (Agnes Moorehead is superb as Mrs Reed). It is clear from the beginning that Mrs. Reed favors her own spoiled children and despises Jane, punishing her harshly for her perceived impudence and "willfulness." After a particularly cruel and unjust episode with her fat, older cousin, John, Aunt Reed locks the ten year-old girl up in the dreaded "red-room," where her uncle died.
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44 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Do not miss this film! April 20, 2001
Format:VHS Tape|Verified Purchase
Yes, this movie is perfect. I have seen this film more than a few times and it never ceases to amaze me and it leaves me with a sense of complete joy when the viewing is over. Infact I have been found to rewind it right after i just got through watching it. The flick start with Jane Eye as a child who has to endure a torturous aunt and is forced to leave to a cruel and harsh boarding school wher she witnessess her classmates death. As the years past she matures into a demure lady who seeks employment out side of the school as a governess and is hired by Mr. Rodchester (Welles). Welles plays Rodchester in such an all out full on bravado that you never question while Fontaine as Eyre falls in love with him! As she setteles into the house as governess she learns that things are not as they seem! The shadows in the house seem to be alive! One night Eyre is awakend by the stir of footsteps and she soon finds Mr. Rodchester's bed ablaze! After the fire is out, one of the most romantic moments in film history takes place! It's not a kisss nor a hug not even a longing look - it's a HANDSHAKE! The embrace of Welles' massive hand over Fontaine's is purely entrancing! The brooding, sinister, darkly, tall and handsome Welles is matched by Fontaine's porcelin beauty! The glances and facial expressions they give each other through key scenes of dialogue will leave you weeping for days! But the film has a level of tension and suspense that is not overshadowed by the romance. The thrill of the house's secret resident and Welles' steps to keep it and his pain staking steps to take solice in his private pain is just a rush and keeps you biting your nails to the climax! An amazing film with such heart and nereve that it deserves to be in everyones collection! The atmospheric fog and tales of lust, jealously, intrigue and pure emotions are breathtaking!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Love Jane Eyre in any format
Love Jane Eyre in any format... book, movie (old or new) and Orson Wells does an amazing job as usual.
Published 1 day ago by Patricia Rogers
3.0 out of 5 stars Orson Wells and Joan Fontaine were two of my favorite actors in my...
Orson Wells and Joan Fontaine were two of my favorite actors in my youth. Unfortunately, this was an abbreviated version of Jane Eyre, which has since been potrayed by much better... Read more
Published 12 days ago by JJC
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
One of my favorite classics.
Published 15 days ago by Florida Mom Mom
5.0 out of 5 stars Pleased
Very pleased with product, thank you!!
Published 1 month ago by Jen
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great movie as you already now. Picture was as good as or better than any B&W upgrade I've seen.
Published 1 month ago by JM
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great old film
Published 2 months ago by Lil Hutch
5.0 out of 5 stars Jane Eyre Favorite
My favorite story. And, this is my favorite movie version made of it.
Published 2 months ago by lilprincess
5.0 out of 5 stars THE BEST VERSION OF 'JANE EYRE' 1944 - JOAN FONTAINE & ORSON WELLES AT...
THIS 'JANE EYRE' (1944) SHOULD HAVE BEEN A 2-DVD SET . . . ALL THE WORK AND RE-DO'S TO GET THIS FILM DONE, THE SMALL DETAILS AND THE GREAT BERNARD HERRMANN MUSIC SCORE SHOULD HAVE... Read more
Published 2 months ago by F. K. WILLDERS
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Loved this one. I think this was the first one I saw on TV. Really enjoyed it.
Published 2 months ago by Gwen Barlow
5.0 out of 5 stars My favorite
My favorite, the old Jane Eyre with Orson Welles. It gets no better than this
Published 2 months ago by Char
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What films are in this collection?
Although unfortunately The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is not included, I have confirmed with a reporter for the Baltimore Sun that all of the extras for Jane Eyre are included. These were on the UK Region 2 DVD, but not the original Feb 2007 release of Jane Eyre. These extras include commentary for... Read More
Oct 8, 2007 by nancesp |  See all 3 posts
DVD
Fox is releasing it on dvd on april 24, 2007
Jan 7, 2007 by C. Clark |  See all 2 posts
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