|WUTHERING HEIGHTS (1939)|
Leo G. Carroll
|"If he loved you with all the power of his soul for a whole lifetime, he couldn't love you as much as I do in a single day."|
|Time: 103 mins.|
Rating: Not Rated
Won Academy Award for Best Cinematography. Nominations for Best Picture, Best Actor (Olivier), Supporting Actress (Fitzgerald), Art Direction, Director, Score and Screenplay.
Olivier and Oberon take the tragedy of unrequited love to a whole new level of despair and bitterness in this classic literary tale. I was never able to wade through the book and now I know why. There's only so much anger and disappointment one can take. Nobody broods better than Olivier and he has plenty of it to do here as the oft-rejected Heathcliff. Brought to live with the Earshaws as a young orphan, Heathcliff dreams of success, acceptance and finding the key to Cathy's heart. She offers him protection and friendship in their youth, but when her father dies her dreams of fancy clothes and a comfortable life outweigh her uncontrollable feelings for her childhood friend.
Heathcliff is devastated when she takes up with the rich and handsome Edgar Linton (Niven), a man who can provide for her in ways a former stable boy cannot. While she demands that Edgar and her brother Hindley (Williams) show Heathcliff respect, she cuts him to the quick with her wishy-washy ways and hateful tongue. Her pride will not allow her to marry him, but she doesn't want anyone else to have him either. She hates him for the feelings he invokes in her, he hates her for turning her back on him and rejecting the obvious connection between them. His eventual success proves to be too little, too late. In the end, their selfish decisions not only ruin their lives, but destroy the souls of all those who dare to love them.
While this story is probably more true to life than most romances, it's hard to relate to such willfully stupid, constantly unhappy and woefully arrogant characters. Being a creature of the late 20th Century, I found it hard to understand Cathy's motivation to marry for money rather then love. Sure pretty dresses and grand parties are nice, but they can't compare to the joy of a warm, deep kiss that curls your toes. Her constant condescending attitude didn't endear her to me either. It's great to see such a complicated woman portrayed onscreen, however, I just wish I liked her more. Besides, how anyone could choose David Niven over Laurance Olivier is beyond me. Olivier's Heathcliff is a mass of emotions and his performance is the heart of this film tortured, unyielding and ever hopeful. Since I didn't like any of the characters and the story is such a downer, I doubt I'll ever sit through this melodrama again, which meanders along whenever Olivier is absent. However, if you like to see a love story without the typical Hollywood happy ending, then you'll probably enjoy this well-acted tale of love gone very wrong.