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Movie Reviews

DVD Review: “Jane Eyre”

(20th-Century Fox Cinema Classics Collection. 1944. B&W. 96 minutes. Not Rated. Directed by Robert Stevenson.) Orson Welles, Joan Fontaine, Margaret O’Brien, Peggy Ann Garner, Henry Daniell, Agnes Moorehead, John Sutton, Sara Allgood, Elizabeth Taylor. Music by Bernard Herrmann.

Still the best of the many film versions of Charlotte Bront?’s famous tale of the stoic governess and her enigmatic master bedeviled by a family secret. Welles’ entrance is still one of my favorites, and you can’t help but look at him when he’s on screen…wondering how much he’s meddling behind the scenes, as was his habit (and according to all reports, the answer was quite a bit). Fontaine stands up to him, though. David O. Selznick first put this project together, then handed it over to Fox when he decided it was too similar to his Rebecca of a few years earlier (also starring Fontaine). Poignant first third has the young Jane (Garner), sent away by her selfish aunt (Moorehead), suffering at an orphanage under the cruel tutelage of Daniell (always a pleasure to see him). Taylor, on loan from MGM, has a brief uncredited role as Garner’s only friend; even at 12, she was a stunner. Extras include an isolated score track highlighting the haunting music of Herrmann; a making-of featurette; and production, storyboard and poster galleries. Excellent restoration by Fox.