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Wuthering Heights (1939)

Approved | | Drama, Romance | 7 April 1939 (USA)
1:54 | Trailer

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A servant in the house of Wuthering Heights tells a traveler the unfortunate tale of lovers Cathy and Heathcliff.



(screen play), (screen play) | 1 more credit »
2,227 ( 957)
Won 1 Oscar. Another 3 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »



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Wuthering Heights is a wild, passionate tale of the intense and demonic love between Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff, allegedly a Gypsy foundling adopted by Catherine's father. After Mr ... See full summary »

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Complete credited cast:
Cecil Humphreys ...
Sarita Wooton ...
Cathy (as a child) (as Sarita Wooten)
Rex Downing ...
Douglas Scott ...


The story of unfortunate lovers Heathcliff and Cathy who, despite a deep affection for one another, are forced by circumstance and prejudice to live their apart. Heathcliff and Cathy first meet as children when her father brings the abandoned boy to live with them. When the old man dies several years later Cathy's brother, now the master of the estate, turns Heathcliff out forcing him to live with the servants and working as a stable boy. The barrier of class comes between them and she eventually marries a rich neighbor, Mr. Edgar Linton, at which point Heathcliff disappears. He returns several years later, now a rich man but little can be done. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




Drama | Romance


Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

7 April 1939 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Cumbres borrascosas  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Gregg Toland rejected the typical Hollywood soft-focus, one-plane depth and strove for razor-sharp black-and-white images. To achieve the maximum contrast between shadow and light on this film, he used high-powered Technicolor arc lamps and a film stock four times faster than customary without an appreciable increase in graininess. He achieved the mood Wyler wanted for the picture by using candle-like effects, keeping the characters partially in darkness before coming fully into the light at climactic moments, and shooting from a low angle to capture the ceilings of the sets, emphasizing the confining loneliness of Wuthering Heights. See more »


When Cathy returns to Wuthering Heights to confront Heathcliff about his engagement to Isabella, she turns to leave and when she opens the door to storm out you can see the set behind the door for a split second. See more »


Cathy: Go on, Heathcliff. Run away. Bring me back the world.
Judge Linton: Pack this fellow off.
Heathcliff: I'm going. I'm going from here and from this cursed country both.
Judge Linton: Throw him out!
Heathcliff: But I'll be back in this house one day, Judge Linton and I'll pay you out. I'll bring this house down in ruins about your heads. That's my curse on you!
[spits on the floor]
Heathcliff: On all of you!
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits prologue: On the barren Yorkshire moors in England, a hundred years ago, stood a house as bleak and desolate as the wastes around it. Only a stranger lost in a storm would have dared to knock at the door of Wuthering Heights. See more »


Version of Cumbres borrascosas (1964) See more »


The Wedding March
(1843) (uncredited)
from "A Midsummer Night's Dream, Op.61"
Written by Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy
In the score after the wedding
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Brings to Life the Setting & Main Characters of A Great Novel
31 May 2001 | by (Ohio) – See all my reviews

Director William Wyler and star Laurence Olivier bring to life the atmosphere and most important characters of a classic novel in "Wuthering Heights". While necessarily omitting much of the material for cinematic purposes, and having a slightly different emphasis, the film version will still be appreciated by those who enjoy classic stories.

The Emily Brontë novel on which the film is based is one of the greatest books of its kind. It is far deeper than any film version could be, so for this movie only a portion of the story is used, and several characters are omitted. The movie also has more of a melodramatic feel than did the novel. It does retain the flashback-style of narrative, which works just as well in the film as it did in the book.

The story opens with a weary traveler meeting up with a now-aging, hostile, and excitable Heathcliff (Olivier), after the main action of the story is in the past. Unsettled by this strange man, the traveler is told Heathcliff's story by the housekeeper Ellen (Flora Robson). This begins with Heathcliff's childhood, and goes through his relations with the Earnshaw family and the Linton family. The heart of the story is his troubled romance with Catherine Earnshaw (Merle Oberon), whom he has known since being taken in by her family as a child. This relationship in turn leads to conflicts with most of the other characters, and affects the lives of everyone involved in profound ways.

Olivier memorably portrays this difficult character, and helps the audience feel his longing and restlessness. Oberon is also ideal as Catherine - a mercurial character who is both a complement and a contrast to Heathcliff. The other main strength of the film is its realization of the main settings, which are almost as important to the story as the characters are: once-fine but now gloomy and declining Wuthering Heights; the pleasant but vapid Thrushcross Grange, home of the Linton family; and especially the wild, mysterious Yorkshire moors, the only place where Heathcliff and Cathy are ever really happy. These settings are all effectively created and photographed, and provide an appropriate background to the events and tensions in the characters' lives.

The result is a movie that, while lacking the complexity of the novel, is a satisfying realization of the most important aspects of the book, and which effectively brings the audience into the lives and hearts of the characters.

44 of 45 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Olivier and Oberon really hated each other. powermandan
Horrible spazberryme
who would you pick for Heathcliff and Catherine (besides the originals)? druid_princess
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Favorite quote... pithylady
Laurence Olivier perfect Heathcliff soccersweetie_83
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