Jane Eyre (1944)
Peggy makes a lovely Jane Eyre in this early adaptation of the story. The acting is as dramatic as you'd expect for the times, but there is touching innocence in Peggy's performance.
For a few words on the plot, see Jane Eyre (1996). This 1944 version is another adaptation of the same story, with Peggy playing young Jane Eyre, and Margaret playing older Jane's student Adele.
Margaret's role is slightly larger than Adele's in Anna Paquin's Jane Eyre, but still small and inconsequential. Margaret is much the same as in Meet Me in St. Louis: merry and cutesy. Elizabeth plays young Jane's friend Helen, and has few lines.
Jeffrey M. Anderson writes, "The standout is easily Peggy Ann Garner, whose extraordinarily unguarded face gives the young Jane a beautiful soul." For a child actress from the 40s, Peggy's acting is at times excellent, although the unrealistic, dramatic monologues typical of the era are not entirely absent. Her solemn style is a good fit for such monologues however, and I found myself even touched a few times – though I might not have been were she not so strikingly beautiful. Peggy looks closer to 10 than 12 years old, and perhaps part of her charm is her young appearance combined with slightly more mature composure and mannerisms.
The picture quality is surprisingly good for a movie so old. This adaptation has been very well received critically, and, in terms of young actresses, it is a very good exhibit from the earlier years of film.
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