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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful.
Watch it.. I dare you!
By Chef Christensen
Let's just keep this between you and me...This is one of only three movies that can make me bawl like a baby. I love this movie, a true classic that shouldn't ever be remade because I can't imagine it getting better. I watch this movie so happily but I know the deathbed scene is coming and I know what is going to happen. Sure enough, when Olivier says gives his "Haunt me" soliloquy I am crying so hard.
If you aren't crying at this point you don't have a soul.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful.
Watch This - and Read the Novel
By Lisa Shea
Wuthering Heights, set on film in 1939, is based on the only story we have from Emily Bronte. Set in the late 1700s to early 1800s, the story tells of the tragic love of Catherine and Heathcliff. It's set close to the same timeframe as the various Jane Austen novels (Pride & Prejudice, Sense & Sensibility, etc.) so it's a bit of a surprise to see that this movie version is set with Civil War costumes. Apparently when the movie was filmed (the same year as Gone with the Wind) everyone was Civil-War-Happy and somehow the women all ended up in those fluffy dresses. To me that's an enormous shame, as I adore the outfits from the proper era.
We also only get half the story here. In the novel there is a whole second generation - Catherine's child, Heathcliff's child, etc. There is continuing epic trauma. But in this sanitized version, Heathcliff and Catherine barely kiss and they wander off in love hand-in-hand at the end. So the depth and emotion of the story is reined in quite a bit.
The three main actors are all of course brilliant and talented. But it's well known that Oberon and Olivier were quite unhappy with each other during the filming of this movie. So while the source material is phenomenal, some of the natural chemistry which is palpable in other movie versions isn't quite as high-octane here. Oberon, in her Gone-with-the-Wind dress, is a bit too cool. She is playing more of an Austen type of heroine, rather than the fire-for-blood Catherine. Yes, Austen and Bronte are often considered contemporaries. But as much as I adore Austen's stories immensely, they are a different style. Austen's characters have refinement and wit. Bronte's have a broiling passion they can barely contain.
Olivier is a genius. I love his characters. And, that being said, his character here is more a Darcy than a Heathcliff. There is brooding, but not the powerful rage and angst and volcanic desire for revenge that the book holds.
Certainly the movie is brilliant. It deserves its ranking of #73 on the AFI top 100. I love the story, and I love the actors. But I also think that other versions bring forth the fullness of the story, the intricacy of the characters, and the darkness of the souls that Bronte wrote about. I think they portray the time frame more accurately, rather than artificially putting the characters into Civil War outfits. So I highly recommend watching this, and appreciating it for what it offers. Be sure, too, though, to watch the other versions of Wuthering Heights and to read the book. See what Bronte really wrote.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful. See all 441 customer reviews...
2013 Warner Brothers dvd review: spoilers, bad transfer
By John Smith
I know there's controversy in some circles about how this film took liberties with the novel. I never read it, and even if I had, I judge movies on their own merits, not on how faithful they are to their source material. My understanding is that the 1992 version is much closer to the book, if that's important to you. But that version was also panned by critics. In any case, I've never seen it, so on with this review of the 1939 release of "Wuthering Heights."
I had high hopes, but this film just didn't impress me. The two lead performers, Olivier and Oberon, were less than convincing; in particular, Oberon's overacting made Cathy's "sad death scene" almost comical. Both were outclassed in the acting department by the supporting cast, all of whom did a much better job. The movie is at it's strongest in the second act, when Heathcliff returns from abroad. For a short time the dialogue, and the quality of Olivier's and Oberon's acting, improves. Olivier shines during this interval, as he begins to take his revenge on those he feels have wronged him. In the third act, when it's discovered that Cathy is dying, the film collapses, returning to the insipidness with which it began. Only the strong second act, along with the excellent work of the supporting actors, prevented me from giving this movie a lower rating. For the weak performances of the two lead cast members, I removed one star.
Then there's the issue of the transfer quality. While not the worst I've seen, it's definitely below average. Grain was heavy, and contrast was poor. But for me, the larger problem with this 4x3 transfer was the audio. Dialogue was often muffled by other sound effects and music. This can be partly alleviated by using a feature that many TVs and DVD players have; it's variously called "clear voice," "dialogue enhancer," etc. If both your TV and DVD player have this function, don't use both at the same time, as this will cause distortion. Activating mine did help, but even then, I had to crank the volume way up to understand what was being said. And this brings up yet another problem: audio hiss, which is magnified to the point of distraction. For the subpar transfer, I deducted another star. By the way, there's another DVD of this film being offered, produced by HBO I think. Vendors are asking ridiculous sums for it. Don't be tempted; the 2013 version is the same disc, just with different packaging. And don't buy anything that is listed as "import," or any other region code besides "1." There are two special features: a theatrical trailer, and an interview with Geraldine Fitzgerald (Isabella), which I thought was incredibly dull. Fans of the movie, or film buffs/historians, may enjoy it.
In my opinion, the real "tragic lovers" of this story were poor Edgar and Isabella. Edgar marries Cathy, Isabella marries Heathcliff, and both make heartbreaking efforts to show love for their respective spouses. Unfortunately, they become casualties of an emotional war waged between two monumental narcissists. It's one thing to make mistakes, and to want revenge for the wrongs you have suffered; it's quite another to callously use other people as pawns. I'm glad that the ghosts of Heathcliff and Cathy were reunited at the end...those two b-stards deserved one another.
This DVD is cheap, so if you're just curious about the movie, there's no big loss in buying it. If you're a fan of the movie, it will serve until a better transfer comes on the market. If I had it to do over again, I wouldn't bother. There are films that explore some of the same themes as "Wuthering Heights" (lovers kept apart by cruel fate, the agony of mistakes made that can never be undone, etc.), but are far more enjoyable to watch. Four that I can recommend are The Butterfly Effect (Director's Cut & Theatrical Release) [Blu-ray], Casablanca (70th Anniversary Edition) [Blu-ray], Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, The, and The Words [Blu-ray].