Film & Stage Adaptations of Classic Novels

Jane Eyre — the 1943 film based on the novel by Charlotte Brontë

How can Charlotte Brontë’s masterwork, be crammed into a time frame of just over an hour and a half? This feat of compression was accomplished by Hollywood for the 1943 film Jane Eyre.

The film was released at the end of 1943 in Britain, and had its American release of February, 1944.

Nearly a quarter of the film covers young Jane’s torturous experience at the Lowood School, based on the actual place that Charlotte and her sisters attended in Yorkshire. The experience proved fatal for one of the Brontë sisters, Maria, who became gravely ill and died. Read More→


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Rebecca — 1940 Film Based on the Novel by Daphne du Maurier

The 1940 film version of Rebecca, based on Daphne du Maurier’s 1938 novel of the same name, was a psychological thriller with nod to the gothic tradition. The black-and-white film, which captured the moody, mysterious feel of the book, was the first American film by director Alfred Hitchcock.

Joan Fontaine starred in the role of the naïve young woman who marries a brooding widower Maxim de Winter, portrayed by Laurence Olivier.

Rebecca, the departed first wife of de Winter, is never seen in the film, but casts a powerful shadow over the inhabitants of Manderlay castle. The suspense builds until we learn just why that is. Read More→


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1939 Film Adaptation of Wuthering Heights

The 1939 film adaptation of Wuthering Heights, based on the novel by Emily Brontë, is considered an American movie classic.

Produced by Samuel Goldwyn and directed by William Wyler, the screenplay took some liberties with the original stories to streamline it into a film whose run time is less than two hours.

It covers barely half of the novel’s 34 chapters, cutting out the second generation of characters. Despite the liberties taken with the story, the film retained the dark, brooding mood of the book, and was generally praised by critics. Read More→


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Miniseries and Film Adaptations of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

If you’re the kind of Jane Austen fan who reads Pride and Prejudice every year or two, chances are good that you’ve seen at least one of its miniseries or film adaptations. Considering the unabated reverence for this novel, it’s somewhat surprising that there haven’t been more. For many devotees, there can never be Too Much Jane.

In addition to the miniseries and film adaptations of Pride and Prejudice listed here, there was also a 1967 British TV adaptation which seems to have been lost to time. Which of these have you seen? Which do you think is most faithful to the original spirit of the novel? Read More→


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How The Birds by Daphne Du Maurier Became a Terrifying Alfred Hitchcock Film

I made the mistake of seeing The Birds, a 1963 film by Alfred Hitchcock when I was young. Not being a fan of all things scary, I never quite recovered enough to give it a second view as an adult, especially since it’s based on a novella of the same name by Daphne du Maurier, an author I admire (Rebecca is one of my favorite classics). 

The following article/review about the film from 1963, the year the film came out, reveals the surprising fact that the masses of birds were — real birds! Of course, in today’s world it would have been done digitally.  Read More→


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