Wuthering Heights (1939)

Genres - Drama, Romance  |   Sub-Genres - Romantic Drama, Period Film  |   Release Date - Oct 5, 2012 (USA - Limited)  |   Run Time - 104 min.  |   Countries - USA  |  
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Together with Gone With the Wind, Wuthering Heights represents the pinnacle of 1930s Hollywood romanticism. Laurence Olivier's contemptuous treatment of Merle Oberon in the film may have been partly heartfelt: He had wanted the great love of his life, Vivien Leigh, to play Cathy, but producer Samuel Goldwyn didn't see things that way, especially since Gone With the Wind had not yet established Leigh as a star of international magnitude. Though director William Wyler, cinematographer Gregg Toland, and art director James Basevi convincingly re-create the storm-tossed moors of Yorkshire, Wuthering Heights was filmed in California's Conejo Hills with extensive "exterior" work within studio walls. The last image, of Heathcliffe and Cathy joyously walking hand in hand into the hereafter, is a bit of audience-pleasing idiocy which Wyler was dead set against: Neither he nor stars Olivier and Oberon participated in this scene (the actors were replaced by their stand-ins). Despite this artistic gaffe, Wuthering Heights is a well-nigh perfect example of studio-system moviemaking. The 1970 remake, which in the fashion of its time alludes to an incestuous relationship between Heathcliff and Cathy, is pretty to look at, but nowhere near as satisfying as the original.