Jalna is a neglected little gem of a soap opera, partly because there are no stars in it. Nice little film about a Canadian family living together on an Ontario estate. Lots of complicated lives, squashed ambitions, family squabbles. Sort of the Dallas or Dynasty of its time. Kay Johnson is "the bride" who changes things for the better. Jessie Ralph is excellent as the grandmother. David Manners is the sulky poet, Ian Hunter is the solid brother. Ted Newton and George Offernan play other brothers. C. Aubrey Smith and Halliwell Hobbes play the unmarried uncles. Molly Lamont is "the other bride." Nigel Bruce is the neighbor in love (for 20 years) with jilted spinster Peggy Wood. Forrester Harvey is the butler. No big stars, but solid acting across the board. And it's oddly funny to hear the opinions about "the States." Going to New York is like a trip to the moon. Jalna was also made into a French Canadian miniseries in the 90s.
Director: John Cromwell
C. Aubrey Smith
The grand old house stands on an extensive estate, for generations home to the Whiteoaks, prosperous Canadian farmers. Ruled by a sharp-tongued but benevolent matriarch, life flows on much as it always has, evenly & predictably. But when two brides are brought home on the same day, passions are unleashed that will bring heartbreak, despair & death, right to the very core of JALNA.
Based on a Canadian bestseller, this unpretentious film has been unfortunately ignored. Filled with both charm & good acting, it rewards thoughtful viewing.
All of the performers do a fine job: Ian Hunter as the brother too busy running the farm to have a life of his own; David Manners, in arguably his finest role, charming & self-centered as the brother with a poetic bent; Theodore Newton, blunt & passionate, as the brother determined to find love; sister Peggy Wood, jilted by hearty neighbor Nigel Bruce, suffering noisily for twenty years; Sir C. Aubrey Smith & Halliwell Hobbes as the old bachelor uncles; Jessie Ralph, as the peppery 99-year old grandmother, wise with age; and Kay Johnson, compassionate & sensible, as the American newcomer who marries into the family.
Notice the interesting way the film introduces the characters in the first scene, by panning around the supper table & labeling each actor.
If you get the chance to see JALNA don't miss it! You will find yourself drawn into the story of the Whiteoaks family of Canada almost from the first. The family consists of very distinct, eccentric characters which makes the story interesting. Gran is the 99 year old matriarch with a crabby parrot named Boney as a pet. Don't let Gran fool you--she's a smart old bird, just like the parrot! Renny, Piers and Eden Whiteoaks are the three brothers whose love stories intertwine. Alayne Archer and Phesant Vaughn are the two ladies. Hmmm...three men and two ladies--yes, that's where the plot starts to thicken. How's this for a twist--the Whiteoaks' sister Meg was jilted years before by Phesant's father, Maurice, but both still have feelings for each other. The screenwriters expertly intertwine the romances of Renny, Piers, Eden, Alayne, Phesant, Meg and Maurice and the story does not disappoint.
Although this movie boasts a fine cast, Kay Johnson as Alayne, Ian Hunter as Renny, Nigel Bruce as Maurice, C. Aubrey Smith as Uncle Nicholas, Halliwell Hobbes as Uncle Earnest and David Manners as Eden, the character that really steals the show is Gran, played with just the right comedic touch by Jessie Ralph. What a mixture of spice, pepper and wisdom, all rolled up under a lace cap! Gran gets most of the funny lines, and mugs outrageously for the camera. You forgive her though, because she's such a wise old soul.
I think if you visit Jalna, you will not come away disappointed
Trailer not available.