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Wuthering Heights (1939)

Not Rated | | Drama, Romance | 7 April 1939 (USA)
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A servant in the house of Wuthering Heights tells a traveller the unfortunate tale of lovers Cathy and Heathcliff.

Director:

William Wyler

Writers:

Charles MacArthur (screen play), Ben Hecht (screen play) | 1 more credit »
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Won 1 Oscar. Another 5 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Merle Oberon ... Cathy
Laurence Olivier ... Heathcliff
David Niven ... Edgar
Flora Robson ... Ellen Dean
Donald Crisp ... Dr. Kenneth
Geraldine Fitzgerald ... Isabella
Hugh Williams ... Hindley
Leo G. Carroll ... Joseph
Miles Mander ... Lockwood
Cecil Kellaway ... Earnshaw
Cecil Humphreys Cecil Humphreys ... Judge Linton
Sarita Wooton Sarita Wooton ... Cathy (as a child) (as Sarita Wooten)
Rex Downing ... Heathcliff (as a child)
Douglas Scott ... Hindley (as a child)
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Storyline

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 lives 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

Taglines:

A Story of Vengeful Thwarted Love See more »

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

7 April 1939 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Cumbres borrascosas See more »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$593,914, 31 December 1989
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Vivien Leigh wanted to play the lead role, alongside her then lover and future husband Sir Laurence Olivier, but studio executives decided the role should go to Merle Oberon. They offered Leigh the part of Isabelle Linton, but she declined, and Geraldine Fitzgerald was cast. See more »

Goofs

During the deathbed scene, Heathcliff places Cathy's lifeless body on the bed. As Dr. Kenneth speaks, the supposedly dead Cathy reaches up with her right hand and tugs on Healthcliff's lapel. He takes her hand and we can see her fingers close around his while he speaks. See more »

Quotes

Heathcliff: I cannot live without my life! I cannot die without my soul!
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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 »

Connections

Version of Broadway Television Theatre: Wuthering Heights (1953) See more »

Soundtracks

Piano Sonata in A major, K.331: Rondo alla Turca
(1778) (uncredited)
Music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Played by Alice Ehlers on harpsichord
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 Snow LeopardSee 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.


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