Quick Review: Wuthering Heights (1939, William Wyler)

Hollywood's Greatest Year: The Best Picture Nominees of 1939RATING: 10/10

Director: William Wyler
Cast: Laurence Olivier, Merle Oberon, David Niven, Flora Robson, Geraldine Fitzgerald, Hugh Williams
Screenplay: Charles MacArthur & Ben Hecht (Based on the novel by Charolette Bronte)

Synopsis: The tragic romance of Heathcliffe (Laurence Olivier) and Catharine Earnshaw (Merle Oberon) is told through the eyes of a servant in the estate of Wuthering Heights, where social class and expectations ruled the fatale lovers once upon a time.

Quick Thoughts: 

1. I haven’t given a strong 10/10 to a movie for a long time, but “Wuthering Heights” deserves it. Maybe I am just a sucker for films that came out in 1939 (My favorite film of all time in “Gone with the Wind” and I”m in love with “The Wizard of Oz”), but this film belongs with such great titles. It deserves to join the club as one of the greatest films every produced on the silver screen. It was haunting, magical, acted-perfectly and adapted from Bronte’s fine novel in the best way possible.

2. A lot may argue that there wasn’t a lot of the book in this film version, but I beg to differ. As someone who sat down and read the book for pleasure, I would say that I was very satisfied with MacArthur and Hecht’s adaptation of the novel. It hit all the right emotional spots and it was greatly cinematic. Through the direction of William Wyler, we didn’t have much 1930s melodrama and it was straight to the point. Maybe that’s a point I should give to Emily Bronte for such a great storyline because a lot of films didn’t work well as 1930s adaptations, but this one truly did.

3. Laurence Oliver is a master class actor. He was the perfect Heathcliffe. His offscreen persona fitted the character well too. He had the look and the guy knew what he was going. He was perfect in this dark role, and as an actor I felt like he wasn’t holding back. This role is darker then other leading men roles from the 1930s, but it seemed like Olivier was fearless in the performance. Same goes with his female lead found in Merle Oberon (as Cathy). Though at the start I was a bit iffy with her, but she began to grow on me. I liked how she never really made it into a boring sob fest of a typical 1930s female performance. She was perfect for the role. too.

4. This belongs on the top of William Wyler pictures. It was memorable and absolutely heartbreaking to watch. Which is exactly what “Wuthering Heights” is, a tragic romance. It was caught on film in such a great way that I don’t think it will ever be caught on film like this ever again. Cheers to this classic!

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