Another Update on BBC Bronte Films
Once again, our thanks to LaMcKay for providing the following stats on several BBC productions currently unavailable:
Jane Eyre (1963) was broadcast on 7-4-63. The BBC 2 classic serial 28-12-68 Tenant of Wildfell Hall is complete as is their Wuthering Heights first broadcast 28-10-67 (4 episodes). Villette 1970 (also from BBC 2) aired on 31-5-70 and had 5 episodes.
And finally Blogger is allowing me to post images once again. This is the picture I found earlier this week of Daphne Slater who played Jane Eyre in the 1956 BBC series (playing opposite Stanley Baker). I have not been able to verify what the image is from- but the watch definately makes one think that this is not an image from the production! The search continues.
Friday, June 30, 2006
Another Update on BBC Bronte Films
Thursday, June 29, 2006
Update: Jane Eyre 1963 and Villette 1970
The internet is a marvellous thing. I am astounded by how quickly this search is going. Before I started keeping this blog, work was slow and frustrating. Being in touch with so many Brontephiles like myself is making my work go far more smoothly!
The newest information comes from Bronteana reader, LaMcKay. There is both good and bad news. The bad news is that the 1963 version of Jane Eyre, with Richard Leech and Ann Bell (the photo I discovered earlier this week from this production is here), is unlikely to be released. The current opinion is that the series is missing two of its six episodes- episodes two and three. While most of us would loudly cry that this is no reason to hold it back, it would look awful to the marketting deptartment I'm sure if one third of the production were missing.
The good news is that the current opinion is that Villette survived the archive purge intact! This gives me great hope that it could be released someday. LaMcKay suggests that Jane Eyre could be released with it as bonus material, but I think it is unlikely. What they might do would be to put together a boxed set. To my knowledge there have been no boxed set of Bronte films- only discounts if you buy Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. It is a thought. I must say that the interest in a 'new' Bronte work- which is neither Jane Eyre nor Wuthering Heights- should be immense. Add this 'lost' footage, and 1968 Tenant of Wildfell Hall (I am not sure this one exists, to be fair) and a loss just isn't an option. Everyone will want to have this collection I am absolutely certain.
Addendum: BBC Archive Project
Biedroneczka writes in with a little more information on the list she provided of BBC adaptations of Jane Eyre, specifically the two radio adaptations I have not found yet- the ones from 1990 and 2004:
"There's practically no info on the 1990 version. As far as I remember, it's only 30 minutes long. The 1994 programme is indeed the one with Ciaran [Hinds]. And the info on the 2004 one reads as follows: Anne-Marie DUFF reads Charlotte BRONTE bold and passionate story of a woman's search for independence and love on her own terms. Lonely, ignored and ill treated, the orphaned Jane is growing up at Gateshead. Abridged by Sally MARMION. Producer Di SPEIRS. 15 episodes, 15 minutes each. BTW, Here's the link to the site: http://open.bbc.co.uk/cataloguemeta. Sadly, the catalogue is currently unavailable."
The catalogue seems to be in a prototype stage at the moment, according to its blog but is going through a review process. This is how the project is described on the BBC's website:
This experimental catalogue database holds over 900,000 entries. It is a sub-set of the data from the internal BBC database created and maintained by the BBC’s Information and Archives department. This public version is updated daily as new records are added and updated in the main catalogue. This figure is so high because, for example, each TV news story now has an individual entry in the catalogue.
Perhaps more importantly for our purposes is that it clearly excludes productions which no longer exist. It is safe, I think, to suppose then that the 1956 and 1963 Jane Eyre productions are still extant. Once the project is up again, we should be able to see if 1970 Villette, the 1968 Tenant of Wildfell Hall and perhaps others we don't know about are also hidden away there.
Bronte News and Update on BBC Search
Last Sunday Kenneth Griffith, Mr Mason in the 1970 production of Jane Eyre with Susannah York and George C. Scott, died at the age of 84. Thanks to peridramnews for the notice.
Well, now we have this article from the Guardian about the limited re-release of Daphne duMaurier's Rebecca. In passing this painfully psychoanalytic article suggests that all romances are paedophilic.
Whether it's Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, Bridget Jones's Diary or any old Mills and Boon novel, the grist that feeds the fantasy mill is the same.
Several Bronteana readers have sent in some info which should be helpful in tracking down some of these remaining adaptations which are not currently available. Liz, who wrote to the BBC about the Villette mini series sends the whole text of their email reply which certainly suggests that the series exists but that copyright arrangements prevent distribution of copies- thus, the letter writing compaign mentioned earlier.
Also, Biedroneczka sends along a list she found of BBC productions of Jane Eyre from a site connected to the BBC archives. This is the list (programmes denote episodes):
6 programmes in 1956
6 programmes in 1963
5 programmes in 1972 (radio)
5 programmes in 1973
11 programmes in 1983
3 programmes in 1990 (radio)
4 programmes in 1994 (radio)
15 programmes in 2004 (radio)
In my travels I came across one source claiming there had been productions in the 1940s as well. It is possible that they were mistaken, or perhaps this list is of those versions extant. The 1972 radio adaptation must be the Megwynn Owen/Patrick Allen series. And possibly the 1994 version is the one with Sophie Thompson and Ciaran Hinds. I have not heard the 1990 and 2004 versions yet (15 episodes?!).
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
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.
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Bronte News and A little More About Films
An extremely brief article about the students of the Ripley Academy of Dance and Drama taking part in filming for the BBC's new production of Jane Eyre to air in autumn 2006.
A brief review of the book Angry Words Softly Spoken: A Comparative Study of English and Arabic Women Writers by Alanoud Alsharekh.
The main premise of this study relies on many of the theories presented by the 1970’s feminist critical movement, especially that of Elaine Showalter’s tripartite structure.It also suggests a new tripartite structure for the evolution of feminist consciousness in works of fiction involving an inversion of scales in ‘softness’ and ‘anger’ explored through the work of such authors as Charlotte Brontë, Sarah Grand, Virginia Woolf, Layla al Othman, Nawal al Saadawi and Hanan al Shaykh.
The search for more information on Jane Eyre 1963 is on. I spent much of yesterday sifting through internet posts and fora- in some cases finding something exciting only to find that the post had been deleted. If anyone has any memories of the production, or knows if anything has survived from it, do not hestitate to contact me at bronteana.blogATgmailDOTcom.
So far, the obituary of Richard Leech, who played Mr Rochester, contains the best information on the style and reception of the work:
Leech had a busy career in films. His army officer in Ice Cold in Alex typified many of the offers that came his way: well-spoken and very much officer material. However, he always brought a definite sympathy and elegance to such roles. Sometimes he gave them a fine touch of irony, which allowed him to develop his skill at underplaying a character. In Tunes of Glory (in which he cut a fine figure in a kilt and did an athletic Eightsome Reel), he was one of the mess officers caught in the unholy struggle between John Mills and the hard drinking Guinness. Leech delivered careful, well-rounded performances in numerous other films, including Gandhi, Young Winston, The Dam Busters and The Shooting Party.
Leech was also a well-known face in numerous television dramas. In 1963, he was cast in a BBC serialisation of Jane Eyre as Mr Rochester (opposite Ann Bell), but it cut little ice with the public.
Monday, June 26, 2006
Jane Eyre 1963 Steps out of the Shadows
Well, this is surprising. I was looking for some images of a theatre production when I came across this. I had finished my search and thought that I would see what might turn up. This is an image from the BBC's 1963 mini-series of Jane Eyre. This is Richard Leech as Mr Rochester and Ann Bell as Jane Eyre. All the information available on this production can be fit into this post: It had a run time of 6 episodes (at 25 minutes each?)
Directed byRex Tucker
Writing credits (in alphabetical order)
novel adaptation Constance Cox
Cast (in credits order)
Ann Bell.... Jane Eyre
Richard Leech.... Mr. Rochester
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Elsie Arnold.... Mrs. Fairfax
Rachel Clay.... Jane Eyre (as a child)
Justine Lord.... Blanche Ingram
Nan Marriott-Watson.... Grace Poole
Elaine Pratt.... Adele
William Russell.... St. John Rivers
Produced byDouglas Allen
Original Music byTristram Cary
The specifications on the image provide hope for new material as well:
Caption:Actor Richard Leech as Mr Rochester and actress Ann Bell in the title roll [sic] of Jane Eyre being serialised by the BBC at the Television Centre, Shepherds Bush.
Date Created:29 Mar 1963 12:00 AM
Collection: Hulton Archive
Source: Hulton Archive
Date Submitted: 27 Oct 2003 08:46 PM
Release Information:No release.
More information, at the time of the production Richard Leech was 41, and Ann Bell was 23, making their difference in age almost match that of the book- in the book Mr Rochester is 20 years older (here he is 18 years older).
Some more trivia about the cast. Richard Leech was a practicing doctor, and his children had Noel Coward and Alec Guiness for godfathers. The actor playing St.John played Ian Chesterton, the 'companion' of the First Doctor in the original Dr.Who. While Ann Bell played Doris in Fahrenheit 451.