×

Wuthering Heights

"Wuthering Heights" will have to depend on class audiences. Its general sombreness and psychological tragedy is too heavy for general appeal. With that setup, and lacking socko marquee dressing, picture is more of an artistic success for the carriage trade.

With:
Cathy - Merle Oberon Heathcliff - Laurence Olivier Edgar - David Niven Ellen Dean - Flora Robson Dr. Kenneth - Donald Crisp Isabella - Geraldine Fitzgerald Hindley - Hugh Williams Joseph - Leo G. Carroll Judge Linton - Cecil Humphreys Lockwood - Miles Mander Robert - Romaine Callender Earnshaw - Cecil Kellaway Heathcliff (as a child) - Rex Downing Cathy (as a child) - Sarita Wooton Hindley (as a child) - Douglas Scott Harpsichordist - Mme. Alice Ehlers

Wuthering Heights” will have to depend on class audiences. Its general sombreness and psychological tragedy is too heavy for general appeal. With that setup, and lacking socko marquee dressing, picture is more of an artistic success for the carriage trade.

Emily Bronte’s novel, published a century ago, tells a haunting tale of love and tragedy. Samuel Goldwyn’s film version retains all of the grim drama of the book. Dramatic episodes are vividly etched, without benefit of lightness. It’s heavy fare throughout.

Merle Oberon has two loves – a pash for stableboy Laurence Olivier and love of the worldly things David Niven can provide. After unsuccessfully goading Olivier to make something of himself, girl turns to marriage with Niven. Olivier disappears, to return several years later from America with a moderate fortune. Miss Oberon keeps her smouldering passions under control, and Olivier marries Niven’s sister (Geraldine Fitzgerald) for spite. Climax is reached with Miss Oberon dying from an incurable disease in Olivier’s arms.

Stark tragedy is vividly etched throughout. Tempo is at a slow pace, with many sequences devoted to development of psychological reactions of the characters. It’s rather dull material for general audiences.

Olivier provides a fine portrayal as the moody, revengeful lover. Miss Oberon is excellent throughout, nicely tempering her changing moods. Niven handles his role satisfactorily, while Miss Fitzgerald is impressive as Niven’s sister, who comes under the spell of Olivier and finds nothing but unhappiness in her marriage to him.

Story is unfolded through retrospect narration by Flora Robson, housekeeper in the early-Victorian mansion of Yorkshire. After briefly detailing background of three principals as children, tale swings into the main love theme and tragedy.

Production has been given best facilities possible in all departments. Camera work by Gregg Toland is top grade, and settings are in keeping with period of the story.

Direction by William Wyler is slow and deliberate, accenting the tragic features of the piece. Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur wrote the screenplay.

1939: Best B&W Cinematography.

Nominations: Best Picture, Director, Actor (Laurence Olivier), Supp. Actress (Geraldine Fitzgerald), Screenplay, Art Direction, Original Score

Wuthering Heights

Production: United Artists/Goldwyn. Director William Wyler; Producer Samuel Goldwyn; Screenplay Ben Hecht, Charles MacArthur; Camera Gregg Toland; Editor Daniel Mandell; Music Alfred Newman; Art Director James Basevi. Previewed at Warners Hollywood, March 24, '39.

Crew: (B&W) Available on VHS, DVD. Original review text from 1939. Running time: 103 MIN.

With: Cathy - Merle Oberon Heathcliff - Laurence Olivier Edgar - David Niven Ellen Dean - Flora Robson Dr. Kenneth - Donald Crisp Isabella - Geraldine Fitzgerald Hindley - Hugh Williams Joseph - Leo G. Carroll Judge Linton - Cecil Humphreys Lockwood - Miles Mander Robert - Romaine Callender Earnshaw - Cecil Kellaway Heathcliff (as a child) - Rex Downing Cathy (as a child) - Sarita Wooton Hindley (as a child) - Douglas Scott Harpsichordist - Mme. Alice Ehlers

More Film

  • it chapter two, comic con

    Comic-Con: 4500 Gallons of Fake Blood and Everything Else to Know About 'It Chapter Two''

    Comic-Con 2019 kicked off with a stacked presentation from the director and cast of “It Chapter Two” on Wednesday, inspiring a curious amount of joy at San Diego’s Spreckles Theater in spite of the abject terror offered up by the film. The closing chapter to 2017’s record-obliterating “It,” the highest grossing R-rated horror film of [...]

  • 'Between Me and My Mind' Review:

    Film Review: Trey Anastasio in 'Between Me and My Mind'

    Trey Anastasio doesn’t look like a rock star. With his thick rimless glasses and flop of sandy red hair, you might say he resembles John Sebastian, but really, he looks like a mashup of Mike White and Jon Cryer and the filmmaker Chris Smith. He’s an appealingly ordinary shaggy-geek dude, like some guy you might [...]

  • Photo taken July 18, 2019, from

    Multiple Deaths From Arson Attack on Japan's Kyoto Animation

    An arson attack on the Kyoto Animation company on Thursday morning in Japan. has claimed the life of at least one person . But it is now feared that 13 have been killed. Emergency services in Kyoto City received a call around 10.35 a.m. local time reporting an explosion on the first floor. The blaze [...]

  • sith trooper

    Sith Trooper Revealed From 'Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker'

    “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” revealed a new storm trooper uniform Wednesday at San Diego Comic Con as part of a special exhibit celebrating the evolution of the storm trooper design. Dubbed the Sith trooper, the new uniform sports all-red armor plates with a matching red and black blaster. Also decorating the armor is [...]

  • Dunkirk

    Harry Styles Is the Perfect Prince Eric; Why He'd Rock 'Little Mermaid' Role

    Could Harry Styles be the perfect Prince Eric? One day after the announcement that the One Direction star is “in early negotiations to play the iconic ‘Little Mermaid’ role,” the internet exploded with speculation as to how he would portray the object of Ariel’s affections. “I can see lots of reasons why Harry is perfect,” [...]

  • The Lion King

    Film News Roundup: PETA Sponsors Rescued Lion in Jon Favreau's Name

    In today’s film news roundup, PETA honors Jon Favreau for “The Lion King,” “Tigers Are Not Afraid” gets a theatrical release, a Kirk Franklin biopic is in development and “The Sixth Sense” gets an anniversary showing in Philadelphia. HONOR The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is sponsoring a rescued lion to honor director [...]

  • Tokyo Director-in-Focus-at-Japan-Now

    Nobuhiko Obayashi set as Japanese Director in Focus at Tokyo Film Festival

    Indie director, Nobuhiko Obayashi will be feted as the director in focus at the Japan Now section of this year’s Tokyo International Film Festival. The festival will give a world premiere to his “Labyrinth of Cinema.” Supporting his art by shooting commercials, Obayashi is an indie whose dreamy works have influenced numerous other directors in [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content