Wuthering Heights (1939)

Wuthering Heights PosterTheir’s was a love. A love of butter. Uh, wait a second, I must be thinking of a different couple. Heathcliff and Cathy were just a couple of crazy kids from the moors of England who just couldn’t seem to get things worked out.

In an effort to distinguish itself from all the other movies about lost love on the English moors, this one begins in the middle of a driving blizzard instead of a driving thunderstorm.

I like watching people trudging through fake snow and looking at model houses in the background of the indoor set this was filmed on so I was immediately enthralled by it all and waited with baited breath to see whether this was the set up to a very long flashback. You could pretty much see it coming once this traveler showed up at Wuthering Heights and everyone inside was all morose and caked with old-guy and old-gal make-up.

The traveler is grudgingly given a room and it isn’t long before he hears a woman’s voice howling on the wind outside his room (the old bridal suite of course). Once the man of the house learns that this guy heard a chick yakking out in the storm, he hauls ass out of the house and into the blizzard.

The traveler looks at the old hag and asks what the dude’s problem was and who the lady was he heard. She opens her mouth and utters the words that must have struck fear into his heart and made his nads shrivel up into his belly button: “it all began forty years ago!”

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The old lady starts in with some drivel about how Heathcliff (the guy who went charging out into the snowstorm) was brought back to Wuthering Heights by Cathy’s dad when he was just a smelly lad running the streets of Liverpool.

Cathy’s father explains to his two dubious children (Cathy also has a no-good brother named Hindley) that in life they must be prepared to share their good fortune with others and that Heathcliff is going to be staying with them.

The two boys don’t like each other and Heathcliff comes after Hindley, but Hindley picks up a good-sized rock and tells him to back off. Heath doesn’t and Hindley bounces the rock off his skull from about three feet away!

Heath is busted open, but swears revenge on Hindley no matter how long it takes. This sets up the lifelong feud between these two that really gets going once Cathy and Hindley’s dad croaks and Hindley takes over Wuthering Heights, demoting Heath from foster kid all the way down to stable boy!

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In the meantime, Cathy and Heathcliff enjoy playing together and as they get older they are still enamored with one another and hang out on the moors just enjoying life.

Cathy is a woman, so you can imagine that that won’t be enough for her. Oh no. She’s got her eyes on a better life. You get the idea that it will be with Heathcliff if he can get his crap together and develop a taste for material wealth instead of just being happy with the person he’s with, but if it turns out that Heathcliff isn’t that shallow, she’ll find someone else.

The next thing you know, she’s hanging out with Edgar Linton at his estate and complaining to her housekeeper about what a loser Heathcliff is. Heathcliff overhears this and is pretty upset and goes so far as cut his hands up by punching out some windows.

Thus begins Heathcliff’s descent into a journey of self pity and fury that takes him all the way to America where he makes a bunch of money and allows him to come back and buy Wuthering Heights out from under Hindley and to hang around Cathy and Edgar like some type of broken hearted wraith.

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The remainder of the movie isn’t very pleasant to sit through, chiefly because both Cathy and Heathcliff are self-centered, self-destructive boobs who ruin the lives of everyone around them in their efforts to abuse one another’s affections.

Laurence Olivier as Heathcliff is full of smoldering rage and intensity and Merle Oberon is suitably insensitive in her role of Cathy. You can’t really fault what they did in this film, but their characters never did much that engendered much empathy.

Cathy comes off the worser of the two, mainly because it’s understandable how Heathcliff felt after being dicked around by Cathy. Heathcliff has given himself completely to her and for her to so arbitrarily reverse course and go with someone else merely because he could buy her better dresses and throw lavish parties goes a long way to explain his increasingly single-mindedly psychotic behavior. (He marries her sister-in-law merely to punish Cathy and tells her this to her face!)

The final scene warps us back to the night of the blizzard where the story began and I guess there’s some type of happy ending for Heathcliff and Cathy, but these are two people who just ooze poison and aren’t anyone you would want to be around. You only hope they end up together just to prevent them from screwing with anyone else’s head and heart.

© 2015 MonsterHunter

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