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"What do they know of heaven or hell, Cathy, who know nothing of life?"
CAST: Merle Oberon (Catherine Earnshaw); Laurence Olivier (Heathcliff); David Niven (Edgar Linton); Flora Robson (Ellen Dean); Donald Crisp (Dr. Kenneth); Hugh Williams (Hindley Earnshaw); Geraldine Fitzgerald (Isabella Linton); Leo G. Carroll (Joseph); Cecil Humphreys (Judge Linton); Miles Mander (Mr. Lockwood); Romaine Callender (Robert); Cecil Kellaway (Mr. Earnshaw); Rex Downing (Heathcliff as a child); Sarita Wooton (Cathy as a child); Douglas Scott (Hindley as a child); Mme. Alice Ehlers(Harpsichordist).
Director: William Wyler; Producer: Samuel Goldwyn; Screenwriters: Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur; Based on the novel by Emily Bronte; Cinematographer: Gregg Toland; Editor: Daniel Mandell; Art Director: James Basevi; Set Decorator. Julie Heron; Costumes. Omar Kiam; Musical Direclor: Alfred Newman; Special Character Makeup: Blagoe Stephanoff; Running Time: 104 minutes.
of other versions of Bronte's book have reached the screen
1920 silent British adaptation with Milton Rosmer and
Luis Bunuel's 1953 Mexican translation, Abismos de Pasion,
Jorge Mistral and Irasema Dilian; a 1970 British remake,
filmed in Yorkshire with Tirnothy Dalton and Anna
a French adaptation in 1985, and a Japanese one three
(At this writing, a new British remake is in production
release.) But the only lasting classic has proved to be
haunting, California-made, 1939 production, sensitively
by the demanding William Wyler and artfully photographed
by Gregg Toland. Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur confined
simplified adaptation of Bronte's complex plot to only the
initial half, while retaining much of its original
Although generally popular with both critics and audiences, Wuthering Heights was not a financial success until after its eventual reissue. Nevertheless, it remained Goldwyn's favorite among all of his own productions.
Merle Oberon has matched the brilliance of his characterization with hers. William Wyler has directed it magnificently. It is, unquestionably, one of the most distinguished pictures of the year.” -- Frank Nugent in The New York Times.
All the above (pictures [save the poster] and text) is from The Complete Films of Laurence Olivier by Jerry Vermilye
'This actor is the ugliest actor in pictures. This actor will ruin me.' One's wildest imagination could not lead one to believe that these words were directed at Laurence Olivier. But they were. This used to be the highlight of one of Larry's favourite Hollywood stories.
the early days of the shooting of Wuchering Heights Larry
acquired athlete's foot. We were shooting the film in
and had filmed three days with Larry as the stable boy in
Scenes. Sam Goldwyn strode on to our set on this
and called cast and crew around him. Larry was on crutches
of the athletes foot, and it took him somewhat longer to
around than most. As Larry put it, he made a splendid
" the Show must go on" - the brave actor coming to work
despite discomfort and crutches.
Larry's mimicry of Sam's voice and manner were hilarious. What had caused this panic in the hierarchy was Larry's make-up, and appearance in general. He had insisted on looking like an authentic and very grubby stable boy. Coming from the Old Vic, where he had an enormous success, he didn't agree that he should tone down his make-up and performance for the magnifying screen. He was finally convinced by seeing the rushes of the first few days. It is really interesting to look back and realize we were witnessing a great actor adapting his art from stage to screen, even though we all suffered a bit from the growing pains.
I was essentially a screen actress, and though only twenty-two at the time was treated like an old shoe. I don't believe William Wyler, the director, looked at me too much; though I do remember he did make a suggestion in the death scene. I had to cry with happiness at seeing Heathcliff, combined with a sense of frustration at knowing I was leaving him. After the first take Willie said: 'A little more [tears] in the left eye." I occasionally still tease Willie about this, and we have a good giggle. But: the results of Larry's performance are now notable in the prouder annals of the history of motion pictures. The film itself (in spite of the old shoe) is in the archives of the Library of Congress of the United States Government.
But Wuthering Heights was not an easy film to make. We had our troubles. I caught a cold that threatened to develop into pneumonia, so in the scenes where Cathy has to search for Heathcliff in the rain, Cathy was forced to wear what skindivers call a wet-suit under her silk dress, the rain had to be warmed, and Alice, my stand-in, had to bear most of the storm.
Another point (for which we still get criticized - especially by the British) was the height of the heather. Our excellent set designers had built an extraordinarily convincing Yorkshire landscape in Chatsworth, a suburb of Los Angeles. We were due to film the love scene in the heather on a Thursday. While running down the hill I sprained my ankle, so the scene was postponed until the following Monday. The heather, already the height of Yorkshire heather, had been planted on Wednesday for shooting Thursday. On Monday, when we arrived to do the scene, you could hardly see me for the heather. No one had reckoned on the power of the California sunshine. Larry and I ran through what looked like extremely healthy wheat. People still say - in the middle of telling me how much they liked the film - 'But how come they didn't know that heather doesn't grow that high?'
Picture from The Complete Films of Laurence Olivier, text: Merle Oberon -- from OLIVIER - Ed. Logan Gourl
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