1939’s Wuthering Heights was the original big-screen adaptation of Emily Bronte’s best selling novel. Merle Oberon stars as Cathy and is very good, however Laurence Olivier’s portrayal of Heathcliff was absolutely breathtaking and it annoys me as much as it astonishes me that he didn’t win an Oscar. The 12th Academy Awards saw Laurence Olivier up against Clarke Gable for Gone with the Wind and James Stewart for Mr. Smith goes to Washington. All three were beaten by Robert Donat, who won the best actor Oscar for Goodbye, Mr. Chips, which quite frankly sucked, I’m not fond of Clarke Gable but even he would have been more deserving than Robert Donat. Even more noticeable about this annoying situation is that at least back then there categories were full of great actors with performances worthy of an Oscar, unlike nowadays when I find myself disappointed each time I sit through a long Academy Award ceremony.
The Earnshaws are Yorkshire farmers during the early 19th Century. One day, Mr. Earnshaw returns from a trip to the city, bringing with him a ragged little boy called Heathcliff. Earnshaw’s son, Hindley, resents the child, but Heathcliff becomes companion and soul mate to Hindley’s sister, Catherine. After her parents die, Cathy and Heathcliff grow up wild and free on the Moors and despite the continued enmity between Hindley and Heathcliff they’re happy. That is until Cathy meets Edgar Linton, the son of a wealthy neighbour and Heathcliff is forced to come to terms with the fact that money plays a bigger hand in peoples judgements than he would have liked, and that love in fact doesn’t conquer and it really transform Heathcliff’s character into a very bitter man.
Wuthering Heights is a very powerful film, and has some truly top-class acting. The plot is quite complex in it’s simplicity, and it’s the wonderful acting that does that, the film did win an Academy Award for it’s cinematography which is deserved, because the moors and scenery were breathtaking. I truly love this film and although it isn’t one you want to watch constantly, it is a great classic that I’m very proud to own.