Friday, June 19, 2015

"Wuthering Heights": 1939 version covers less of the novel

I did rent the classic version of Emily Bronte’s “Wuthering Heights”, directed in 1939 by William Weler/ (A more recent “art film” version from 2011 is reviewed here April 4, 2015).
The Wyler version covers only about half of the novel, omitting a middle generation entirely.  It comes across more as a typical melodrama than as a ghost story or gothic horror “chiller” (which the 2011 film becomes).  The schmaltzy music score is by Alfred Newman.
The opening of the film, where a traveler named Lockwood (Miles Mander) seeks “radical hospitality” at the remote country estate when caught in a storm, from an aged owner Heathcliff (Lawrence Olivier).   Soon we hear about the ghost of Cathy Earshaw (Merle Oberon).  Much of the film is told as a flashback of 40 years, a narrative presentation style to frame a “major backstory” that sometimes can weaken the stake in the present (I have to deal with that in my own screenplay).  But “Dr. Zhivago” (1965) is told as a huge backstory, too.

The film uses a natural highland formation, Peniston Crag, site of love scenes, as a connector, where at the end the couple “climbs every mountain” in the snow.

I wonder if this novel is on summer reading lists for high school.

The DVD (WB and Samuel Goldwyn) contains an interview with Geraldine Fitzgerald (Isabelle Linton character. The film was nominated for Best Picture in 1939, against "Gone with the Wind". 

For a short film today, look at “More”, directed by Brian McCulley (2012) and produced by Timo Descamps, who sings the music and dance number, link here. The tagline is “West Side Story meets the future”. 


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