Bronteana: Bronte Studies Blog Archives

June 28, 2006

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Filed under: Uncategorized — by bronteana @ 2:26 am

Jane Eyre BBC 1956

There’s been no new information on the 1963 Jane Eyre, but my search has led me back to the previous BBC production- the 1956 version. I have no images ,[I’ve just found one!] and I don’t know if this one still exists either but it sounds very interesting! I have heard some enthusiastic comments from people who remember it. I don’t know if it would appeal to modern lovers of fidelity to the novel, though…

We saw that in 1963 Jane and Rochester came nearest to the ‘perfect’ age difference. In 1952 the BBC cast a Rochester who was only a whopping.. one year older than Jane. He was 29 and she was 28. Meanwhile, St.John was 32. Anyway, the strangeness continues. The production lists Constance Cox as a co-adaptor with Ian Dallas. She is also the adaptor of the 1963 version! Furthermore, our Jane (Daphne Slater) had just finished playing Elizabeth Bennet, and Harriet Smith before that, and Anne Elliot in 1960. There are a few fan recollections of Stanley Baker’s performance: ” I seem to remember a strong (and sexy!) performance as Mr Rochester.” As with Richard Leech we can infer something about Stanley Baker’s performance from his acting style in general.

To start off with, he was over 6 foot, and described personally as: rugged Welsh mining stock, unruly, quick to flare, and first to fight, proud and self-willed, posessing ‘a fine speaking voice, a smouldering intensity, and a strong spirit.’

His was good-looking, but his features were angular, taut, austere and unwelcoming. His screen persona was taciturn, even surly, and the young actor displayed a predilection for introspection and blunt speaking, and was almost wilfully unromantic. For the times a potential leading actor cast heavily against the grain. Baker immediately proved a unique screen presence – tough, gritty, combustible – and possessing an aura of dark, even menacing power.

[…]

Film welcomed the adult Baker as the embodiment of evil. Memorable early roles cast the actor in feisty unsympathetic parts.

[…]

He established his own niche as an actor content to be admired for peerlessly portraying the disreputable and the unsympathetic. In that he was a dark mirror, more accurately reflecting human frailty and the vagaries of life than many of his more romantically or heroically inclined contemporaries.

He was also knighted in 1976. You can read more of this lengthy encomium here.

So, I imagine something like Wuthering Heights meets Pride and Prejudice… I have an image of Stanley Baker from the year of the production but once again Blogger is not co-operating. The link to the image is here.

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6 Comments »

  1. He looks like Laurence Olivier!
    It must have been a very interesting JE adaptation.

    Comment by siansaksa — June 28, 2006 @ 6:05 am |Reply

  2. Thanks for the update. I wanted you to know that I really enjoy reading your blog. You obviously put a lot of time and energy into it, and I appreciate your attention to detail. On your recommendation I have spent the last week enjoying the 1976(?) BBC Jane Eyre. ahhh. I am also glad to know I am not the only one with a(n almost debilitating) Bronte obsession.

    Comment by Alice Oddcabinet — June 28, 2006 @ 3:03 pm |Reply

  3. This first word that comes to my mind with this image is ‘swell’. Take a little of the gell out of his hair, and mess him up a bit…then maybe he could get away with a ‘gee-golly-whiz-swell’ :?}

    Comment by mandyjoy — June 28, 2006 @ 7:11 pm |Reply

  4. to siansaska:

    You know, I didn’t notice it before but you’re right! I suspect that this version is still around in the archives but it is only a hunch at the moment.

    Comment by Brontëana — June 28, 2006 @ 10:38 pm |Reply

  5. to alice oddcabinet:

    I remember you commented before, about the Bronte action figures I think 🙂 I’m glad to know what people enjoy my blog. Keeps me motivated.

    The 1973 version! I take it you’re not posting a complaint about the recomendation? 😉

    Comment by Brontëana — June 28, 2006 @ 10:40 pm |Reply

  6. to mandyjoy:

    Maybe it is all in the baleful glare or something? Perhaps I could have found a more menancing picture. 😉

    Comment by Brontëana — June 28, 2006 @ 10:41 pm |Reply


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