Poor, abused Jane (played, as an adult, by Joan Fontaine) - in this early Hollywood adaptation of the Charlotte Brontë novel - goes from living with her nasty aunt to living in a cruel orphanage (run by Henry Daniell) to eventually working as the governess for the tortured Edward Rochester (Orson Welles). Though Welles did not direct his, he certainly elevates it: his slightly hammy theatrical approach to the role provides a fitting counterpoint to Fontaine's repressed blandness as well as the foreboding dreariness of the production, which emphasizes how bleak the scenario actually is. The screenplay was constructed by long-time Welles collaborator John Houseman and Aldous Huxley (!), who clearly understand Brontë's grim view of the world (and love).
Director: Robert Stevenson
Year Released: 1943