Jane Eyre 1961

Sally Ann Howes, Zachary Scott

"But does she love me enough? Oh God, she must." -Mr. Rochester

"But if I don't stand by what I believe, I shall be nothing, even my love in time would be nothing." -Jane

This one-hour television production for "Family Classics" was introduced by Joan Fontaine which was a nice surprise. Opening credits start with Grace Poole getting herself some alcohol. Mr. Rochester's entrance is not quite as dramatic- he is sitting in a chair in the darkened library when Jane goes down to get a book and he startles her when he speaks. I actually really liked this adaptation. Sally Ann Howes was again serviceable as Jane, nothing special in her interpretation. Zachary Scott as Rochester brought something different to the role as compared to the previous American hour-long television productions. His Rochester was more aristocratic in ways, he sometimes- and very vaguely!- put me in mind of Dracula. Not that he was vampiric, just in the way he carried himself. And maybe because he was dark and thin.

The script manages to include a "Rivers" section where Jane actually gets a proposal from St. John- something that hasn't happened in the previous film adaptations I have seen. And St. John is rather egregious and plump- not very like the Apollo of the book. And if I'm not mistaken, this is also the first time they flash back to Thornfield burning down while Jane is away- breaking up the Rivers section with a scene with Rochester.

If I had to pick the best of the American hour-long productions, I would pick this one. Which is viewable free at the Paley Center in Los Angeles and New York.