Jane Eyre (1944)

JANE EYRE (1944)
Article 1867 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 4-25-2006
Posting Date: 9-22-2006
Directed by Robert Stevenson
Featuring Orson Welles, Joan Fontaine, Margaret O’Brien

Jane Eyre, an orphan, after years of suffering and abuse, becomes the governess at Thornfield Hall, a gloomy estate presided over by the imposing Edward Rochester. Jane falls in love with Rochester, but there is a secret hidden behind the locked walls of the estate…

No, JANE EYRE is not a horror movie, but it is not totally out of the question to include it with this series, especially as the story belongs to that genre of moody Gothic romance that was in some ways a precursor to horror. The theme of madness does pop up at one point, and there are plenty of ominous shadows and some swirling ground fog to add further to the atmosphere. Furthermore, it’s pretty hard not to get a strong sense of horror during the scene where Jane swabs the blood from the chest of an injured visitor while an unseen and malevolent presence rattles a nearby door. The movie itself is excellent, with fine performances from all. It’s almost hard to pick favorites among the actors, but you won’t soon forget Orson Welles, Joan Fontaine, Henry Daniell, or Agnes Moorehead in their respective roles. The opening of the movie is pretty Dickensian, with Jane being shunted off by an aunt to to the cruel harshness of a charity school. Which brings up one of those “lesser of two evils” types of question: If you were a child, who would you rather have watch over you, Agnes Moorehead or Henry Daniell? Now, if that isn’t a scary choice…

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