Search - Jane Eyre (1934) on DVD

Jane Eyre (1934)
Jane Eyre
Actors: Virginia Bruce, Colin Clive, Beryl Mercer, David Torrence, Aileen Pringle
Director: Christy Cabanne
Genres: Drama
NR     2003     1hr 2min


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Movie Details

Actors: Virginia Bruce, Colin Clive, Beryl Mercer, David Torrence, Aileen Pringle
Director: Christy Cabanne
Creators: Robert H. Planck, Carl Pierson, Ben Verschleiser, Adele Comandini, Charlotte Brontė
Genres: Drama
Sub-Genres: Love & Romance, Classics
Studio: Alpha Video
Format: DVD - Black and White
DVD Release Date: 03/18/2003
Original Release Date: 08/15/1934
Theatrical Release Date: 08/15/1934
Release Year: 2003
Run Time: 1hr 2min
Screens: Black and White
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English
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Member Movie Reviews

C. M P. (selkie)
Reviewed on 12/30/2015...
Worst adaptation ever! The only part they took from the book were the names of the characters!
Forget the fact that it is greatly condensed (that was the least of the issues with this movie): Throughout this movie Jane is described as beautiful (they : even made Blanche Ingram jealous of her from the first) & Mr Rochester did not fit the description at all in the book of being moody as well as not handsome.
I guess everyone is better off that this being a short movie, because it was just awful would have been unbearable to sit through had it were any longer.

(I was VERY reluctant to list it as a classic in my tags, & only did so because the story is a classic, although this movie is anything but!)

Movie Reviews

An oddity and an artifact
(3 out of 5 stars)

"The company that releases this DVD claims it's the first version of Jane Eyre on film. This makes it especially interesting...but Jane Eyre fans may be disappointed at how far the film strays from the novel.A short film, it doesn't do a bad job of condensing, it simply takes 1930s sensibilities and forces them onto the story. The Jane in this film is not only pretty (and mentioned by many characters as being "beautiful"), but she is rather silly, and sometimes mean...Things that the Jane of the novel never was. Rochester is far from being sardonic and tortured; he's actually...well...awfully sweet.(PLOT SPOILERS IN THIS PARAGRAPH!) In addition, several important plot points have been changed, probably due to censors of the time. For example, Adele is not the child of Rochester's mistress; she's his legitimate niece. And Rochester doesn't try to marry Jane even though he's already married; he is seeking (and receives) an annulment before the ceremony. Many favorite characters are also missing, including Helen.Nonetheless, this film is an interesting piece of history. It was directed by a woman (something Charlotte Bronte would approve of), and has the sensibilities of it's time. The quality of the film is very much in keeping with it's era, and it's condition is quite good considering it's age."
Worst version I've seen!
rkp1 | Albany, NY USA | 09/15/2003
(1 out of 5 stars)

"I love old films and the story of Jane Eyre, so I bought this DVD thinking I couldn't miss. Wrong! This is a horrible adaptation, not at all true to the book. The characters are completely changed: Jane is described as "the pretty governess," and engages in perky verbal sparring with a dashingly handsome and charming Rochester. In both the book and all other film adaptations I've seen, Jane is rather plain and humble, and Rochester is moody and NOT supposed to be handsome. Aside from the terrible adaptation from book to script, and the bad acting, the movie print itself used to master the DVD was in poor shape, and NOT restored. The resulting DVD is of annoyingly poor quality. This particular movie version is just plain bad, both story and technical quality. Try the versions with George C. Scott or William Hurt instead; they're very good. The Ciaran Hinds version is passable, though in his version Rochester comes off as just plain mean."
A Film Time Capsule thankfully preserved on DVD.
J. Kara Russell | Hollywood - the cinderblock Industrial cubicle | 07/24/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This version of JANE EYRE is enjoyable for film history buffs. So, thank goodness it has not been lost, and is available on DVD.

This is a very early talkie, from one of the smaller movie companies, and all the growing pains show. (Garbo's ANNA CHRISTIE was made the year before this, and while still stagey, it shows what a larger, more successful film company could do, compared to this smaller one. Garbo's film was a film, this feels more like a record of a stage performance.) The script is rather "favorite scenes from JANE EYRE." It takes major plot points and turns them into a brighter story all together, mixing and matching elements at will

Virginia Bruce is tall, platinum, strikingly beautiful with a lovely contralto voice, voluptuous figure and mesmerizing sad eyes (that inspired Italian doll maker Lenci, in many of his boudoir dolls of this period). All of this, of course makes her wrong to play Jane, in one of the most total miscasting moments of film history. Worse yet, she slumps and slinks around like a 1930s starlet, more Jean Harlow than Jane Eyre. To see her languidly lounging against a pillar or a piano, combined with some of the abrupt dialogue lines that contradict the original story, brings lots of laughs to a Bronte fan. This version also added characters and played loose with details in ways that also made me laugh.

Colin Clive as Rochester is handsome, refined, and gentlemanly. He treats her like an Etonian suitor. Virginia Bruce rather brusquely runs the scenes with him, and often seems very bored with him, practically rolling her eyes. So, of course, all of this is wrong for the story. Now, I must say, they are both very good actors, and inhabit their roles, and for this period, they are both very fine (compare them with the supporting cast, especially the hysterically bad Adele - a child actor coached to the ends of every finger and curl in the most obvious stage mannerisms of the day), but the limitations of the medium of that day and their miscasting does them no favors.

The casting of his fiancée is very odd indeed, and shows how the beauty of WOMEN was valued at that time, over girls. She looks a good ten years older than Rochester, and quite the dark-haired demimonde vamp. Watching many versions of JANE ERYE, I find that the casting of this role and Adele tell us a tremendous amount about the tastes of the times.

The sets are bright and light, but we must understand, that some of this dynamic was needed for the cameras that were being used at the day, the makeup is very dramatic, but again, the makeup then needed for a face to "read" on camera was not even natural skin tones. So for these things, this version is a fascinating film study of a particular moment when films were transitioning. Miss Bruce's costumes are lovely - more Cinderella than plain Jane - and are also a notable moment of history, when this high waised, fully flounced skirt was "in style" for period films. This type of dress, too, was copied by doll maker Lenci. You will notice that all the lines are spoken very slowly and distinctly, and many will dismiss it as bad acting, but this too, had to do with early sound recording, it was necessary for the way film was made.

Since I AM interested in film history, this has made me anxious to see more of Virginia Bruce. I want to see if her particular presence was used in more contemporary pieces, where her looks and personal style would have made her shine. This is a time capsule.