Wuthering Heights [VHS]
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Product Description

One of the most compelling tragic romances ever captured on film, Wuthering Heights is an exquisite tale of doomed love and miscalculated intentions. Though only half of Emily Bronte's classic tale of Heathcliff and Catherine was filmed by director William Wyler, it lacks for nothing.

The story begins when a Yorkshire gentleman farmer brings home a raggedy gypsy boy, Heathcliff, and raises him as his son. The boy grows to love his stepsister Catherine, with catastrophic results. Laurence Olivier and Merle Oberon were perfectly cast as the mismatched lovers, with Olivier brooding and despairing, Oberon ethereal and enchanting. This won cinematographer Gregg Toland a much-deserved Oscar for his haunting and evocative depiction of mid-19th century English moors. (Quite a trick, as this was shot in California!) Though nominated for seven other Oscars, it won none of them, as it was released in 1939, one of the best years in Hollywood history and the same year as Gone with the Wind. Interestingly, the script was written by Charles MacArthur and Ben Hecht, best known for their witty 1931 flick, The Front Page. --Rochelle O'Gorman

Customer Reviews:

  • Wuthering Heights
    It is one of the best movies you will ever see and one of the greatest love stories of all time. The passion is breathtaking without being sexual and it truly shows the depth of personal emotion on all levels....more info
  • Will Never Forget It
    I remember this film well,but in a hazy way....Merle Oberon after she dies, running with Laurence Olivier to gather heather she loved.

    To me , this is one of the top romantic classics...the cinematography was interesting and very artistic. Each scene seemed to be filmed to capture the feeling of that moment.

    Either Merle in all her brilliance resting in the sun, or the fading scene of these two lovers wandering off to the heather.

    I just cannot express rightfully the greatness and depth of this film.

    Love so strong it lives on after they've died.

    Highly recommended !...more info
  • Great Movie Absurd Overpricing.......................
    I just bought the Import edition of this dvd on Amazon Trust me the picture quality is absolutely beautiful.Beware to those who say imports are inferior sometimes the are better than then the american releases.Anyhow this movie is absolutely a masterpiece I Highly Recommend any edition you could get your hands on but as always these movies will make it on Dvd again....more info
  • gotta get this 4 'da lover in y'all!
    yo, it's lovetragedy. it's like storytale, Emily Bronte brought it & put it on the table 4U, kid. this been made a lotta times by a lotta folks but William Wyler put the thing right in 1938, nawmean? an English farmer puts up some NAPPY little ragamuffin on his spread, right? but the poor dude get messed up ova his daughter like "i was thrown into the company of a most fascinating creature, a real goddess in my eyes". DAAAAAAAG, THAT'S POPPIN', SON! Heathcliff & Catherine's in love, y'all. but her bro's all like "he gotta make it on his own like Mary Tyler Moore", right? so off he go to the States & comes back a made man, all mackin' & sportin'. but by then sh*t is turnded all upside down on tha homefronts, 'cuz! they got some REAL STATIC 'cause Catherine is all hook'd up with some doo-doo chump sucka. Cliff & Cathy all salty on each other now, right? but that's not all...you jus' gotta see "WUTHERING HEIGHTS" & peeps on tha real drama, ho!...more info
  • Geraldine Fitzgerald -- 1913-2005
    In the wake of Geraldine Fitzgerald's death earlier this month, we turn to our DVDs of WUTHERING HEIGHTS and the "extra" feature on this disc looks more and more valuable--the interview with the aged Fitzgerald in which she looks back, after sixty years, to her memories of making this William Wyler classic. Wits of the day said that she was the only cast member who seemed to have read the Emily Bronte novel it was based on. In the on-screen interview she remembers a tumultuous set filled with the off-screen romantic shenanigans of Oberon and Olivier, who were each caught up in "important romances," Olivier's with Vivien Leigh, the woman he thought should be playing Cathy. Poor Merle Oberon usually gets the short end of the stick and is sometimes harshly criticized for being inadequate in the part, but Fitzgerald is kinder and gentler, and perhaps gives a truer yardstick towards that pivotal performance.

    We admired Fitzgerald for generations; she was nominated for the Oscar playing Isabella; she continued to thrill us all through her years slaving away at Warner Brothers, including playing Bette Davis' affectionate pal in DARK VICTORY and the wealthy noir doll in NOBODY LIVES FOREVER with John Garfield. Was she blacklisted? There was a strong Leftist streak in her, and her movie credits die out during the period of HUAC activity; when she returned to the screen she was playing older parts, some of them not quite dignified, but meanwhile she was returning to her stage roots and playing on the Broadway stage. After I saw her in LONG DAY'S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT I had the thrill of my life when she auditioned me for her "Everyman Theater" project--it was sort of a hippie venture to play Shakespeare in the streets--not just regular Shakespeare, but a juiced-up acid rock extravaganza heavily influenced by her understanding of Brecht. She was a brilliant director and conceptualist and one of the most vital people I ever met. Now that she's gone, a whole high-toned spirit has disappeared with her, out of the stage, out of the darkened cinema palace. Tonight I'll watch WUTHERING HEIGHTS one more time, enjoying the larger than life melodrama, the beauty of Oberon and Olivier, but tonight out of respect to a magnificent actress and rebellious flame now quenched....more info
  • Give That Orchestra a Break!
    I really wanted to like this movie. I am a hopeless romantic at heart, surrounded by cynical naysayers as most of us are. I do believe that love is the greatest of things - but alas, I cannot recommend this movie. The dialogue is stilted and doesn't ring true, although the performances are, for the most part, excellent, given the cheese that the performers had to wade through. The biggest flaw and sign of dating, however, is the never-ending, overdramatic orchestration in the background - after a while, I longed for the awful scene in the Fountainhead with the incessant jackhammering - at least, it would have matched what this orchestra was doing to my head. My housemate and best friend called this a chick flick for the '30s; well, I never cared for most chick flicks, then or now (if you are in that frame of mind, I recommend the far, far superior Terms of Endearment)....more info
  • WHY is this DVD out of print???
    This is the quintessential version of the first part of Bronte's novel - how can they allow this to go out of print with no recourse but inferior imports?

    Olivier is superb in this version, as is Oberon (although not as well-known today as her contemporaries, a stunningly gorgeous & talented actress.) The entire cast acquits themselves with grace & aplomb.

    Why has no one seen fit to produce this DVD in the US except for as a limited run? Completely unfair that classic movies should go out of print like this. I hope the studios wise up & produce a Laurence Olivier collection of classic works & include some of his lesser-known projects such as The Divorce of Lady X & That Hamilton Woman, as well. ...more info
  • The excellence of a true love story
    This is by far my favorite love storey around on film. If you love film romance in every part o the word. You will love Wuthering Heights. It may take you a while to get into the storey, but once you get it you will love it. Laurece Olivier is great, every women can understand his pain. Anyway I do not want to keep going on about how great this film is. Check it out....more info
  • Tortured love can be so bitter....
    The 1939 version of Wuthering Heights captures the tortured emotion of the book so well, you would think you are reading the book. The leads are played by the usually wooden, but pretty Merle Oberon as Catherine and the always amazing Laurence Olivier as Heathncliffe. Wuthering Heights is a difficult book to film because the characters in the book are near impossible to like or relate to. The characters lack any sort of warmth and just seem to deliberately torture each other; it is quite a surprise that this 1939 adaptation captures the nature of Emily Bronte's book so well in a time when sugar coating something to make it more palatable was the normal procedure in Hollywood.

    The cinematography in "Wuthering Heights" is dark, the set is dark, everything is dark. The acting is spot-on, and the love-hate relationship between Catherine and Heathcliffe is portrayed so well, although Laurence Olivier has never had a hard time playing a brooding or menacing figure before. The most prevailing problem people have with this movie is that the film ends when the book would only be half finished. This, however, for the times was understandable and actually makes you want to read the book even more to find out what happens after the sad climax of this film...

    If you like period movie, old films, or Laurence Olivier, than this film will be enjoyable for you. If you are austere fan of the book, you may not enjoy this film as much, but it is at least worth a try.

    God Bless and *Enjoy* ~Amy
    ...more info
  • I Cannot Live Without My Life, I Cannot Die Without My Soul!
    That's the end of Heathcliff's tirade against his faithless lover Cathy on her deathbed, a speech which begins in anger and blasphemy and ends in beseechment and pleading, which epitomizes the love/hate relationship between the two characters.

    I first saw "Wuthering Heights" when I was a very young child, and it has stayed with me ever since. I stayed up late whenever it was on, sought it out in revival houses as I grew older. I loved the beautiful score by Alfred Newmann, but I loved more this tragic love story, which affects four people in total. When I read the book, I was surprised to see how much had been cut out, but in 1938-9, movies could only be so long, and novels slashed down to elementals. That's what happened here, too, but considered in and of itself, "Wuthering Heights" the movie does very well.

    Easily the most famous role of Merle Oberon's career, her Cathy is a headstrong, selfish girl who has an impossible love for her servant, Heathcliff, here played with abandon by Laurence Olivier. They are both primitive forces, totally absorbed in each other, but finally class distinctions must force themselves on the pair. While spying on the dance being held at nearby Thrushcross Grange, home of the Linton family, Cathy and Heathcliff are attacked by guard dogs on duty. Heathcliff, the gypsy beggar boy, is sent packing while upper class Cathy is taken in to be nursed from her wounds. Things are never the same after she returns to Wuthering Heights: whereas she used to run about the countryside in the same wild way as Heathcliff, now she tells him that his hands and face are dirty and that he shouldn't touch her silk gown because he'll soil it. His response to this attempt to civilize and dominate him? He slaps her in the face with his dirty hands, foreshadowing his complete refusal to be put in what others consider his place. Misunderstandings arise, and the result is Cathy tries to assimilate into polite society with her marriage to Edgar Linton, played gallantly by David Niven. She appears to love her husband and her idealistic sister-in-law Isabella (Geraldine Fitzgerald), but then her past comes back to haunt her with the larger than life return of Heathcliff, back with money and back with a vengeance. And sure enough, he figures out the cruelest way to hurt Cathy, and pounces on it, with tragic results for all concerned.

    All the performers turn in solid work: Merle with her porcelain doll looks seems like she should be in the china cabinet world of the Lintons, but her eyes can burn with an intensity unknown to them. Olivier gives life to the brooding Satanic hero Heathcliff, feral and aloof by turns and fits. David Niven didn't want to play Edgar because the character was so weak, but in a world without Heathcliffs, no one would have noticed that. You're genuinely sorry that his wife loves somebody else despite her best intentions. And Geraldine Fitzgerald brings an impetuousity to Isabella that is touching. There's that scene of hers in the bedroom after the ball, for instance, when she's gazing at herself in the vanity mirror, a girl in love with love. I've seen this movie in the company of two very different people who both made the same comment about her loveliness and innocence at that precise moment. Her last scene when she tries to touch Heathcliff's heart is piteously well done. She should have done more work in films to record her obvious talent. At least we have "Wuthering Heights".

    Some night, go out to the moors to find your soulmate, and fill your arms with heather and you'll have an inkling what "Wuthering Heights" is all about....more info

  • Superb!
    So far this is the only movie adaptation of Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights that I've ever seen and I absolutely loved it! I love old black and white movies and this is one of my faves and I think the black and white really fits the moody, edgy plot and characters!...more info
  • "Oh, Cathy, I never broke your heart."
    The wild passion and the wind-swept moors of Emily Bronte's classic is vividly brought to the screen. Lawrence Olivier is fantastic as Heathcliff - in fact, he steals the whole movie. Merle Oberon lacks the fire (and to me, beauty) of what Cathy should possess, and she is little more than misty-eyed and weak during the famous deathbed scene near the end. And that should have been the end, but Selznick didn't like to end the picture on that down note, so added the two ghosts of Cathy and Heathcliff walking off hand-in-hand across the snowy moors - pure hokum. But the story of obsessive love and revenge is a powerful one, and this is deservedly a film classic. Definitely worth a watch....more info
  • Way Over Rated !!
    "Wuthering Heights" is very possibly my favorite book and this ,by far the WORST filming that I've seen of it! They all speak in artificial and sonorous tones. Making dramatic pronoucements sometimes accompanied by rumbles of thunder like a bad horror movie! I never thought Merle Oberon, regardless of how pretty she was, could act and Olivier is too subdued and displays NONE of the passion described in Bronte's novel. Example: the "May you not rest until I am dead too!" Which is spoken as he bashes his head against a tree trunk, is delivered in a dreamy, removed and subdued manner with no head banging involved. Timothy Dalton and Ralph Fiennes ECLIPSE Olivier's pallid performance!...more info
  • The best film ever
    In a modern world full of wonderfully hi-tech special effects and superstars this film simply blows everything away and is definitely best film I have ever seen. It's dramatic, romantic and Laurence Olivier's performance is individually the most powerful I have ever seen.
    Thank you Amazon.com for finding me a seller to obtain this on DVD and thank you Roberto for supplying it in such pristeen condition. I don't even want to unwrap it!!!...more info
  • Wyler Masterwork of Thwarted Yearning in the Yorkshire Moors
    Brooding and tempestuous, William Wyler's 1939 version of Emily Bront?'s only novel, "Wuthering Heights", is a masterwork of doomed love, conflicting passions, and unbridled revenge, all set in a romantic, haunted vision of the Yorkshire moors. Samuel Goldwyn considered this his favorite among his many productions, which included "The Best Years of Our Lives" and "Dodsworth". Legendary writers Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur (of "The Front Page" fame) adapted Bronte's book by streamlining it to the first two-thirds of the novel, a point that continues to rile up purists. But frankly, the story ends at exactly the right place in the movie.

    Personally, I like it for the slightly over-the-top acting that propels the melodramatic plot and defines the aching beauty of the romance at its core. After years on the London stage and in British films, Laurence Olivier was finally introduced to Hollywood with his surly performance as Heathcliff, the stable boy locked in destructive thrall with a country squire's daughter, Cathy. Though he looks a little too cerebral and sounds a little too articulate for his role (I keep picturing a young Brando in the part), it's an impressive debut nonetheless, and his feral sullenness was put to good use again the following year in Alfred Hitchcock's "Rebecca". What Olivier does convey particularly well is the heroic tragedy of Heathcliff, as he renounces any power that denies his love with a turbulent, almost demonic sense of yearning. A beautiful woman with hidden half-caste origins, Merle Oberon plays the capricious Cathy to the best of her limited capabilities. It's a full-bodied role for the right actress (ironically it would have been ideal for Olivier's then-fianc¨¦e and Scarlett-to-be, Vivien Leigh), and Oberon plays certain scenes quite well, especially those where she is not called on to speak. Unfortunately, she handles her death scene as if she was in a Cecil B. DeMille silent movie with hands aflutter, mouth aquiver and eyes widened to the point of looking palsied. The chemistry between Olivier and Oberon works though, as much of their dialogue is antagonistic apparently resembling their real-life relationship. But their one scene of open romantic euphoria is a beauty, when Cathy rips her formal gown off to join Heathcliff up on Peniston Crag, where she has him fill her arms with heather.

    The supporting work is solid though not overly demanding of the excellent cast assembled. A young and pretty Geraldine Fitzgerald plays Isabella, Cathy's sister-in-law and Heathcliff's eventual wife, as the silly, determined romantic she is, and David Niven looks understandably puzzled most of the time as the put-upon Edgar Linton. Best of all is Flora Robson, who seems to breathe the part of the haunted, devoted housekeeper Ellen Dean. Evoking the right atmosphere is critical to this kind of piece, and a huge amount of the credit needs to go to master cinematographer Gregg Toland and art director James Basevi, both of whom capture the windswept bleakness of the novel. And Wyler again shows his innate skill in directing actors toward their best work, Oberon included. The DVD package, skimpy on extras, includes an interview with Fitzgerald, the last remaining survivor of the cast, which is full of candor and wit. Her remembrances are wonderful jewels, especially of Wyler as the exhausting taskmaster of a turbulent set and Olivier as the "only actor I knew who was completely unafraid" -- both to convey the unvarnished truth of his character and to give controversial advice. Apparently, there was not much love lost on the set among the principal players, but Fitzgerald looks back with appreciation and a bit of regret on her experiences....more info
  • Love Denied
    This film is based on the Emily Bronte novel, but it is not the word-for-word adaption as seen with some modern Shakespeare movies. This movie focuses on the denied love between Heathcliff and Cathy. The revenge is there in force, but that is not the main idea here.

    If you watch this film as a substitute for reading the book, I would note that not all the characters from the book are present and the use of the homes as metaphor is not emphasized here. In this movie, there are no offspring. The movie flashbacks end with the death of Cathy.

    Although the movie won an Oscar for cinematography, I found the work of Laurence Olivier and Merle Oberon to be top notch. Comparing the book with their work, I believe that they are Heathcliff and Cathy. I would watch this just for their performances.

    I would recommend seeing this movie....more info

  • More than a love story....
    Few films explore the depths of dysfunction quite like the 1939 version of "Wuthering Heights." It is perhaps one of the greatest love stories ever captured on film, great because it is more than just a love story; it is a portrait of the long term results of alcoholism and child abuse. Based, of course, upon the novel of the same name, the film stops after the first few chapters. The book, however, goes on to show with immense psychological detail how the abused Heathcliff himself becomes an abuser and replicates, to the best of his ability, the circumstances in which he was mistreated. The film captures in a short but intense manner the brilliance of the original story-telling.

    In spite of the all the melodrama, the 1939 "Wuthering Heights" is a subtle film compared to the remakes. There are no sex or rape scenes, little bloodshed, just phenomenal acting and a stirring score. When Hindley places his muddy boot on Heathcliff's hands, one feels the humiliation, the degradation. And no R-rated love scene can compare to the passion with which Catherine rips off her fine frock so she can don her usual shabby attire and dash off to join Heathcliff on the moors.

    The obsessive love between Catherine and Heathcliff is the result of the bonding which occurred when they were children in a brutal situation, with no one but each other to turn to for help. Although Catherine loves Heathcliff, her desperation to escape from her alcoholic brother dominates all other emotions. She marries wealthy Edgar for material security and seems to be happy, until Heathcliff comes back. The division in her soul destroys her; in the book she dies giving birth, so tormented that not even the love for her child gives her any peace or hope.

    Throughout both the book and the movie are the recurring mentions of the devil, of hell, of witchcraft and curses, so that one has the distinct impression that the religion of the characters in more Manichean than Christian. The evil spirals into consuming jealousy and hatred. No sins of the flesh are committed, that anyone is aware of, although suppressed passion simmers in every chapter. The tempestuous climate of the moors reflects the inner tumults. The core of the evil is not in the wildness of the elements but in the addictive behaviors of the Earnshaw family. Heathcliff is as addicted to his anger and hatred for all who have injured him as much as Hindley is addicted to his drink, and his inability to forgive, more than his thwarted love for Catherine, is what destroys most of the main characters. The film provides a searing study of the evil that is unleashed when people cling to the past. It also shows, in the final ethereal shot, how love can transcend time and space....more info
  • Brooding and Beauty
    Love set amidst the Scottish moors has never been so tempestuous and heart crushing. Merle Oberon was at her best paired with Lawrence Olivier.

    If you were forced to read the book in high school, don't let that prevent you from enjoying this stunning classic. The movie has graciously reduced the book down to its better parts, namely, the bittersweet love story of Cathy and Heathcliff. As the young lady of the manor, Oberon shines as the slightly spoiled headstrong young woman who can't help but fall for the rogue stray, Heathcliff, a souvenir from her father's travels.

    When Cathy realizes that Heathcliff will never be a man with the proper station in life to support her, she accepts the marriage proposal of her wealthy neighbor boy who has cared for her since her fall from a horse on his property. Despondent and determined, Heathcliff seeks his fortune in the city. Cathy's family is soon in need of rescue, and it is Heathcliff, with his newfound fortune and hardened heart who saves the manor and family from eviction and ridicule. His only goal is to prove his worth the Cathy who is now married, but still carries a torch for the boy who was "cut from the same cloth."

    With the haunting settings and perfect chemistry between the two leads, you will be touched and tortured by this timeless romance....more info

  • Good Condition - Fast Shipping
    The movie was shipped quickly and was in good condition.
    I'd purchase again from this seller.
    Thank you much!...more info
  • With such a wonderful book to start with....
    ...what happened to this? Wurthering Heights has been my favorite book for a long time and I was really looking forward to seein this. I was really disappointed. It is clear that Bronte's sharp, disturbing novel was dumbed down to be less shocking to the minds of the time. The passion, jelousy and generation spanning revenge is gone from this film adaptation (as is the eventual redemtion of the Ernshaw-Linton families, because the whole second half of the book has been left out!). Passionate and slightly evil Cathy has been reduced to a bratty damsel in distress, and because of the film making techniques of the time the breathtaking Yorkshire countryside isn't utilized.
    That being said, the movie isn't all bad. Sir Laurance is incrediable here, a redeeming part of the movie. And if you've never read/ don't feel passionately about the book this could be a nice, if slightly ordinary, love story.
    Basically, this is a good enough adaptation for the time it was made, but it makes a firery book afully bland. For a better (great in my opinion, if a slightly flawed masterpiece) see the 1992 version of this film....more info
  • A dark romantic triumph
    The 1939 version of Wuthering Heights may be a Sam Goldwyn picture but here at least he has the taste not to bury it under his usual excessive (over)production values and let the mostly British cast get on with it under William Wyler's inspired direction, with screenwriters Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur saving their reverence for the characters and spirit of Emily Bronte's novel rather than the set dressing and place-setting details which obsess modern costume pictures.

    The film grips from its atmospheric opening to its tragic and genuinely moving conclusion and while it may end at chapter 17 it never soft-peddles the characters - neither good nor bad, they all choose their own personal Hells and have to live with the consequences. Even if you're no admirer of Laurence Olivier, you will be astonished at how his mixture of ruthlessness and emotional vulnerability makes the part his own forever. Merle Oberon's mercurial Cathy, torn between Olivier's force of nature and David Niven's pillar of society, may not match his power but it's still probably her best work while Geraldine Fitzgerald is a revelation as the woman Heathcliff marries for revenge, her unrequited love compellingly transformed to bitter desperation.

    Gregg Toland's photography is black and white at its best and Alfred Newman's score is perfection. A genuine all-time great - and then some.

    The Region 2 PAL DVD has no extras but does have a fine transfer....more info
  • Love Upon the Moors
    "Wuthering Heights" is William Wyler's 1939 classic. It was very much in the shadow of "Gone with the wind" and "The Wizard of Oz",with its dark story of tragic,forbidden love. Laurence Olivier and Merle Oberon are magnificent as the doomed lovers Heathcliff and Cathy. We see their idyllic childhood days upon the moors, later eclipsed when Cathy marries the aristocratic Edgar (David Niven) Their forbidden love blooms despite their marriages to other people, flowering in their children.

    "Wuthering Heights" has Olivier at his least histironic,and most potent. He is excellent as the brooding,bitter Heathcliff. Merle Oberon is torn between the proper husband and the wild,gypsy stepbrother. William Wyler managed to turn the California wilds into the English moors. It's appropriately gloomy. While GWTW and "Oz" have glorious color, "Wuthering" is brooding and dark. "Wuthering Heights" goes into the wild of the human heart....more info
  • GAWTHICK!
    Written by the most sensual of the rather frustrated Bronte daughters, EMILY [who also supposedly had an affair with her French tutor, and maybe one of old man Bronte's curates] : 'tis quite a steamy tale - with not too subtle hints of necrophelia here and there. It is indeed a passionate tale of frustated love across caste and possibly color/cultural barriers.

    [Considering the cast - it's quite a point too. Was the enigmatic Merle Oberon Tazmanian or East Indian? Errol Flynn knew, but didn't or wouldn't tell].

    Well, it you're totally foreign to WUTHERING HEIGHTS it's briefly about the struggles of a young gypsy [read possible changeling] boy 'somewhat' raised/abused on a country farm and his eternal stuggle/revenge to be accepted by the folk. Soap Opera material today - quite rivals "Dallas" but this was quite a hit back then - also considering that the three Bronte sisters had to use male pseudonyms [the brothers Bell I believe] to get their novels published.

    This version is an interesting period piece complete with the acceptable 'blood and thunder' Oliver acting and the rather subtle David Niven bring up the rear so to speak. Geraldine Fitzgerald as part of the love quartet fares the best I think - she does not quite consume the decor. There have been other versions - the most recent with Fiennes and Binoche [straight to video I recall]. Timothy Dalton also gave it a turn - when will they ever get this right?

    Best to read Emily's novel and use the old imagination - but if desperate - Mr. Wyler's partial version is still the best.

    The movie also has the odd distinction of giving Olivier a touch of athlete's foot - seems that the boots he wore in one of the scenes were not too healthy.........more info

  • Forever Gathering Heather
    "Maybe if I told you their story, you'd change your mind about the dead coming back. Maybe you'd know as I do, there is a force that brings them back, if their hearts were wild enough in life."


    One of the most romantic portraits of tortured but eternal love does not hang in any of the more famous museums around the world. There are no bright colors to distract from its ethereal beauty. Only black and white adorn this painting, yet the shading and images are haunting, filled with love and longing. The canvas is celluloid, the subjects Heathcliff and Cathy, and it is a collaborative effort from director William Wyler, photographer Greg Toland, and musical director Alfred Newman. It is a masterpiece, deeply embedded in the hearts of all who have cast their eyes and hearts upon it. Made in 1939, it is one of the finest films ever made, many still believing it to be the best picture made in the greatest year of motion pictures.

    Emily Bronte's beloved classic was brought to life in truncated fashion, yet made so beautifully by Wyler and company, that whatever scriptwriters Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur left out, the flavor of Bronte's tale of love and class was not only left in tact, but given a face by the lovely Merle Oberon as Cathy, and Laurence Olivier as Heathcliff. This is love on the moors, a love so encompassing that young and wild hearts appreciate it much too late, years of romantic torture suffered due to vanity and class distictions preceding the final happiness which was always there, had Cathy but seen the light earlier.

    It begins when a stranger in a storm seeks shelter at the dark and foreboding Wuthering Heights. It is there he will encounter the tortured Heathcliff and, during the night, Cathy, hearing her call through the wind, and feeling a chilly touch that shakes Heathcliff to his very being. Only then will a story 40 years prior be told him by firelight, until he understands completely how a love that will not die truly exists on the moors of Wuthering Heights. The viewer is transported to a time when Wuthering Heights was alive and beautiful, and full of promise. A man brings home a street urchin and raises him with his two children, Cathy (Sarita Wooten) and Hindley (Douglas Scott), calling him Heathcliff (Rex Downing). Hindley will resent him his whole life, and rub his nose in his poverty. Cathy, however, will fall in love with him along the moors, as they find a romantic place to play and dream. They are kindred souls. It is there, on that rock, that their hearts will be so intertwined that nothing can separate them. But Cathy's youthful vanity is not above these material things.

    When their kindly father dies, young and bitter Hindly makes Heathcliff a stable boy, and events are set in motion which will haunt the moors for generations. They grow up, Hindley's (Hugh Williams) resentment of Heathcliff (Laurence Olivier) still hanging over he and Cathy, his lowly position like an unreal nightmare compared to their sanctuary on the moor, where their youthful love began. She wants him to run away, but for the wrong reasons, and will not go with him and live in poverty, rich in love only. Her vanity longs for the fine parties and dresses, while her heart is disgusted with her for it. Merle Oberon is wonderful here, giving Cathy an ethereal loveliness, and enough depth that you understand her youthful vanity while at the same time wondering how she could be so foolish and shallow. The same could be said of Oliver, in one of his finest performances. His Heathcliff is tortured by Cathy's refusal to see their love for what it really is, and it shows.

    When she gets caught up with Edgar (David Niven), who can give her everything she longs for, but doesn't need, her bitter words to their servant Ellen (Flora Robson) at how degrading it would be to marry Heathcliff, a dirty stable boy, are overheard by him. By the time Cathy realizes she was born to be with Heathcliff, and loves him, he has gone, to claim his fanciful birthright they once dreamed of on the moors. Robson gives a moving performance as she sees how foolish both are being, but cannot make then mature fast enough to avert the romantic suffering they are causing one another. Heathcliff will return with the wealth Cathy desired, but only to seek his revenge, as she has married Edgar. It is here that Olivier shines, the viewer almost with him in spirit, wanting him to rub their noses in it, as he becomes the master of Wuthering Heights. But then his pain becomes too much, and he loses his admiring audience for a time when he marries and destroys Edgar's lovely and adoring sister, Isabella (Geraldine Fitzgerald), out of spite. Once she realizes she could never be in Heathcliff's heart, her fate is set.

    Oberon and Olivier are exquisite in the last portion of this film, a romantic longing for that rock on the moors hanging over every beautiful word uttered, and every haunted action taken. You can almost hear Cathy calling from the moors and smell the scent of heather on the wind, hoping the two lovers can somehow find a way to be together once again, their wild hearts beating as one. It is one of the most romantic films ever made. Greg Toland's beautiful photography is matched by Alfred Newman's lovely score and William Wyler's sensitive direction. They would be for naught, however, were it not for Merle Oberon and Laurence Olivier, who are and will remain the only Heathcliff and Cathy for most of us, no mater how many times this is remade. It is a tale of romantic love too deep for young hearts to appreciate while it is happening. Great art is not always displayed on a canvas. Sometimes celluloid is used, and this is one of those times. A masterpiece. ...more info
  • Terrific!
    This is a superb interpretation of the Emily Bronte classic about a doomed 19th century romance. Laurence Olivier is perfect as the brooding Heathcliff and is complemented by Merle Oberon's performance as the high spirited Cathy. As a poor young boy, Heathcliff is brought home by a farmer to work as a stable boy. He eventually falls in love with the farmer's daughter, Cathy. As a grown man he goes on a journey to America seeking fortune. He returns home to discover that Cathy is married to an aristocrat. This discovery tears him apart inside, but does little to quell the passion he still has for her. This is a timeless classic with terrific performances by all and breathtaking cinematography. Also stars David Niven, Flora Robson, Geraldine Fitzgerald and Leo G. Carroll....more info
  • Excellent Adaptation Of A Classic Novel. Awesome Performances.
    What can I say about this movie that hasn't been said already? The acting, script, score and cinematography are excellent. I read the book twice in preparation for this film and the screenwriters cut it down very nicely, excising the superfluous characters and complicated incidents. Directed by William Wyler ("Ben-Hur," "Roman Holiday," "The Best Years Of Our Lives," etc) and featuring an excellent cast, the film-what the hell, I won't spoil it. Read the book and then see this classic film. In spite of other actors who have played Heathcliff since this version was made in 1939, a golden year for Hollywood, I don't think that anyone (except Kenneth Branagh) can come close to achieving the level of excellence exuded by Sir Laurence Olivier in this classic film. You WILL NOT be disappointed. This movie is Not Rated. ...more info
  • A Classic
    This is a must for old film buffs. Though the passing years have rendered it a bit melodramatic for modern tastes, the performances still crackle with electricity, with a very young David Niven turning in a spot on version of Linton. ...more info
  • The Perfect Heathcliff and a Haunting Cathy! Wow!
    Laurence Olivier is amazing as the lovestruck barn boy whose relationship with Merle Oberon causes infatuation and self-destruction! Even thought it is not a perfect adaptation of Emily Bronte's classic, the actors capture the characters entirely! The ORIGINAL Issue (HBO/SAMUEL GOLDWYN) is a MUST! Special Features include Cast Bios / Original Theatrical Trailer / and a fairly modern interview with an unrecognizable Geraldine Fitzgerald who played the part of Heathcliff's wife and Cathy's sister in law. Reading of the affair between actors Olivier and Vivien Leigh (Famous for Screen characters like Scarlett O'hara/Blanche Dubois), one must wonder how Leigh might have handled the role had she accepted it rather than GWTW. Want another {sigh sigh}romantic classic - try "That Hamilton Woman!"...more info
  • Great Story, Good Film, and Fantastic Acting
    I decided to watch this movie several years ago after I had been warned about it by several crotchety, prim-and-proper English teachers. One of them actually referred to it as a "prostitution of literature" because it sticks to the novel rather loosely and stops the story before the book's actual ending. I threw caution to the wind and dismissed their caveats; I'm glad that I did. The basic plot of the film will already be familiar to most everyone reading these reviews. Cathy (Merle Oberon) and her brother Hindley (Hugh Williams) have been indulged in a pretty good life. Things change suddenly when their father brings home a peasant boy named Heathcliff (Laurence Olivier) and tells the children that he will now be part of the family. Cathy bonds to him almost instantly and, conversely, Hindley fosters a quick hatred for him. As they grow, few things change regarding their relationships. Cathy and Heathcliff retreat to the moors to share their moments of love (or obsession or infatuation, call it whatever you like). Hindley becomes the man of the house after his father dies and he relegates Heathcliff to servitude as a stable boy. Heathcliff overhears the first half of a conversation in which Cathy is debasing him and leaves Wuthering Heights. Cathy chases after him, unsuccessfully, and falls ill after she does not find him. She is nursed back to health by her well-to-do society beau, Edgar Linton (David Niven), and chooses to marry him after her recovery. Lo and behold Heathcliff comes back to town later as a handsome and distinguished fellow and pays a visit to the Lintons. He announces that he has bought Wuthering Heights and thus turned the tables on the alcoholic, gambling-addicted Hindley. Isabella (Geraldine Fitzgerald), is appalled by how cold Cathy acts toward Heathcliff and invites him to one of their soir¨¦es. The two marry against the wishes of Edgar and Cathy and all of the ends of the two families' lives begin to unravel.

    Although some may disagree, I found Laurence Olivier to be a fantastic Heathcliff and he looked much as I imagined Heathcliff while I was reading the book-- handsome, dark and brooding. I thought Merle Oberon made a good version of a spoiled Cathy and David Niven was a good Edgar, playing the oh-so-suave society fop to the hilt. Moreover, the film does tackle a number of situations that still plague people-- Cathy's predicament, for example, on whether to marry Heathcliff and be a stable boy's wife or marry Edgar and be welcomed into high society. But I would certainly recommend, as other reviewers have, that any prospective viewer consider the film a separate unit from the book. Don't even have the novel in your mind when you watch the movie, just enjoy it for its own sake....more info

  • classic always
    Life is so hard. This movie helps me in my belief about life, love. death. Excellent classic...more info