Wuthering Heights - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Wuthering Heights Reviews

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Mr Awesome
Super Reviewer
½ February 22, 2010
Wuthering Heights is the 1939 adaptation of the Emily Bronte novel by the same name. A lost stranger comes to the broken down estate of Wuthering Heights, lost in the moors. He's put up by the hostile Heathcliff, and during the night sees a ghost. He's then told the tale of the ghost, and how it came to be. Olivier's Heathcliff is filled with nothing but impotent rage as he lashes out at the upper class which he oh-so-briefly had a taste of. His beloved Cathy isn't interested in becoming a stable boy's wife, even if she does love Heathcliff. It's a story that starts off with the promise of romance but ends on a bitterly cynical note. I get the feeling the film doesn't do justice to the novel (even having never read the novel), with it's somewhat shallow performances and a lack of exposition or character development. I was surprised to learn the role of Heathcliff was performed by the venerable Sir Laurence Olivier, it was a performance that seemingly could've been done by any reasonably handsome actor of his day. The "film" aspect of the film however, is outstanding: lighting, sets, costumes, and direction are all top notch (and I really hate to mislead, the performances are great for their day), but it's the original material that makes this film so worthwhile, rather than any contributions the filmmakers make.
Super Reviewer
½ January 31, 2009
my only excuse for having missed on this classic for sooo very many years is that i thought it only a "chick flick". whatta maroon, shame on me. with great writing, direction, and acting par excellence (olivier is to die for - and kathy does, merle oberon's death scene is stroke for stroke gloria swanson's last scene in "sunset boulevard", and flora robson finally gets some r-e-s-p-e-c-t in a movie!) by the entire cast, this old story hinged upon class warfare ("we're better than you!" "no you're not!" yah-hoo! ah luv it!) is as fresh as the day they thunk it.
Super Reviewer
January 6, 2009
Wuthering Heights tells the story of two people destined to be together, however they do nothing but hurt each other. It's a fantastic romance and a wonderful adaptation, despite only covering half of the actual book. Olivier is cold, strong and sophisticated in a very impressive role. Despite his constant facial expression his eyes and words display a vast array of feelings. Oberon is also a class act. She is spoilt, selfish and downright mean, though often sweet and confused. Everybody gets a moment to shine, especially against the wonderfully created sets. At its core Wuthering Heights is a tale of revenge, but in the most subtle of ways. Sly conversational digs, the odd shifty look. Could have been better if they had played the Kate Bush classic at some point.
Super Reviewer
November 20, 2008
As a stand alone film, it is enjoyable and rather well executed. As an adaptation of the novel, frankly, it's not up to scratch. It is primarily this film which is the culprit for modern popular culture assuming Wuthering Heights to be a great and tragic love story. If you read the book, it's not. Especially as Heathcliff is a bit too much of an asshole to be considered a 'classic' romantic hero (a bit Byronic maybe, but that's debatable). The fact that this film cuts out just over half of the novel's plot to make out that it's a romance should give you some idea of how bad it is by adaptation standards.
But as I said, if you watch it with no knowledge of the novel, it's a good film. There's nothing wrong with enjoying it that way, but sadly I just can't.
Super Reviewer
½ December 4, 2007
the original version of a movie that has been remade as much as any in history. it seems someone takes a crack at remaking films based on bronte's novel every few years. sold as a great love story, i found it to be very unconvincing. i just didnt believe what they were trying to portray on screen which made for a difficult watch.
Super Reviewer
½ May 27, 2007
doesn't capture the essence and wildness of the book. skip over this and watch the juliette binoche version.
Super Reviewer
March 30, 2007
wonderfully atmospheric
Super Reviewer
February 14, 2007
I recently read the novel by Emily Bronte. Of course, like nearly every book to film adaptation the film is greatly condensed. Merle Oberon portrays Cathy Earnshaw, torn between two loves, in a very tragic manner. David Niven looks very young as the stiff upper crust husband of Cathy, Edgar Linton. Laurence Olivier is brooding and romantic as Heathcliff. The basic parts of the story are present: like Lockwood being told the story by housekeeper Ellen Dean, young Hindley and Catherine being unwelcoming to the adopted gypsy boy Heathcliff, Hindley becoming a useless drunk while Cathy and Heathcliff fall in love, then Cathy preferring the acceptance of high society that Edgar gives to her while Heathcliff schemes to undo both the Earnshaw and Linton families and makes Edgar's sister Isabella falsely believe he loves her. I think that there is a lot more depth and darkness in Heathcliff's character in the book than Olivier shows here. The crags as a fantasy castle that young Cathy and Heathcliff romantically rule over is given much more prominence. The swooning love of the doomed lovers is favored over the cruelty and damage caused in the name of revenge in this version. Also the second generation of the Earnshaw and Linton clans, which go through another sort of love triangle in the final third (?) of the book, do not come into play at all in this simplified movie. A good atmosphere and good performances, though both could have been better. And I am now interested in seeing one of the longer more complete movie adaptations.
Super Reviewer
½ June 2, 2014
Laurence Olivier is good...really good at this non typical non Shakespearean role. One only wishes that he committed to more of these types of projects. The emotion seeps forward and cuts out of the historical film making it more vibrant than the pictures.
Super Reviewer
½ June 24, 2007
I liked it, but everything is the girls fault. It's a messed up story.
Super Reviewer
August 3, 2007
A classic tale of obsessional love and revenge... that's all you need to know!
I don't wanna get picky but the book is much better *sorry*
But then again, you gotta love Laurence Olivier and Merle Oberon - together -who both fit in perfectly with their roles.
Excellent excellent excellent!
Haven't seen the more recent versions yet this remains a must-see!
July 31, 2013
Based on the classic book by Emily Brontė, it is practically about two people who love each other all their lives but can't seem to finish the deed, so they move on and fall in love with other people. The problem is that they can't let the other one go, which causes problems for their respected significant other. Heathcliff and Cathy do come off as selfish and obsessed, but then again love makes one do crazy things. I liked this production and can see why this is the one all other versions are judged on. This is thanks to Greg Toland's great cinematography and William Wyler''s direction. A classic film from a classic book.

Grade: A-
September 14, 2007
William Wyler tragically captures the story amidst beautiful moody black and white cinematography and operatic music from Alfred Newman. Oberon is especially terrific as Mary, bringing a constant energy and bi-polar nature to the role, with Olivier and Niven also doing fine work as well; as well, Gerladine Page is especially passionate in her relatively few scenes. The film kind of staggers a bit at the beginning, but its pace becomes fluid about midway through to the finish. A deserved Best Picture nominee in the greatest of all Hollywood years.
½ September 25, 2011
a solid, simplified adaption of a great classic. I didn't like the approach to the love story very much, though--Catherine and Heathcliff weren't nearly deep and complex enough for their tortured love affair to seem very tortured. it just came across as whiny and immature (which I'm sure is a reasonable interpretation of this story anyway). I also thought the other characters were extremely downplayed. for the most part, however, it was a very good movie. the acting was good, the lighting and cinematography were excellent, the music was over-dramatically fitting, and the overall "gothic romance" atmosphere was captured quite well.
December 17, 2009
Every teenaged girl must watch this film, which improves greatly upon deeply-flawed source material. Olivier and Niven are wonderful, but Oberon chews the scenery.
August 19, 2009
Wuthering Heights is one of my most beloved books.

Divorce yourself from the book. Just... trust me. REFUSE to tempt yourself in comparing. Yes, Olivier is too damn good-looking for the part, yes they omit half the novel, yes Heathcliff is made more sympathetic...

But face facts: the book in and of itself does not work as a movie. I love the book, with all my heart, but it is not a three act structure. It crosses two generations and the female lead dies halfway through. And they weren't gonna put in my favorite scene of the book in a post-Hayes code world. (When Heathcliff digs up the body of Catherine).

Now, let's look at this movie as inspired by and of it's own.

It is pure glorious black and white 30's Gothic romance. I love the way the moors were shot. I love Olivier's strong performance. I love the way it was shot, the way it played with candlelight. I love the play with weather, the rain, the snow, the fog... And, oh, the score is perfect.

This movie is the epitome of historical romantic melodrama and it does it perfectly. I first saw this movie as an impressionable 7 year old and it has stuck with me and made me a love of this type of thing ever since. I can recite and do the death scene from memory.
½ August 4, 2009
One of the best romance movies of all-time. Laurence Olivier has an outstanding performance and is one of his first roles of his legendary acting career. The story was great on how the lovers can not find happiness with each other. William Wyler does great directing this masterpiece.
December 20, 2008
a story set in england, 1820's novel about a place in the country side wuthering heights, at the linton household the father is returning with a boy he found, an orphan. he said he'll be called "hecliff" (larwance oliver) and his children greet him kathy linton, and henry linton, he becomes one of the family to kathy, and the father, and housekeeper ellen, but to henry a gypsie begger. kathy and hecliff have the most joyful times togather...riding horses, going to the peak of wuthering heights, and playing king and queen togather, one day as time passes the father mr. linton dies of old age and henrey is master at the linton household now, he tells hecliff from now on sleep with the other servents, in the stables...and to help out just as the others not as one of the family. when hecliff is twenty he still remains the servant at lintons and kathys love for him still grows everyday she treets him like the king she always did in there childhood games, they meet eachother when her brother henry leaves once in a while at wuthering heights, sharing thoughts and feelings and kathy sugests that he run away and become rich....he dont deserve such cruel treatment, and he says over and over i only would be happy where you are, time goes on and kathy begans having new desires and wishes for balls, devine time and the class known as the "filthy rich" and she gets it leavimng hecliff behind, to be with "edgar" another rich young man sophistacated and well educated! when hecliff shes her after such a long time he asks why did you stay so long? she states she was having a delightful wonderful time amoung human beans, he feels emotionaly crushed and she sends him to the stables to put edgars carriage away to the stables he obeys, when he over hears ellen and kathy talking about him and edgar and kathy's future he hears she needs to marry edgar he can provide for and give her anything she wants ellen exclaims wht about hecliff? she said him, ohh he'll never do anything for himself in life but a servent always wearing thosse dirty hands about, he goes out of the room whare he easdrops and heads for the stalbes....ellen reminds kathy of the way it use to be and she is rich now but does she love edgar? is she as happy? she gets the truth out of her and kathy admits i love hecliff so much im a part of him, and couldint live without him she smiled and said hecliff once told her "what ever happens out there here at wuthering heights you will always be my queen! they both herd a scream saying heliff were are you going come back? and kathy runs out to try to stopp him she realized he herd wht she said bad about him and screaming his name out in the rain and runing after wherever she thinks he road to she ran to the mountain and he wasint there she fainted and chaught a bad cold that lead to amonia and edgar ends up marring her, then when hecliff returns rich and wealthy he pays a formal visit to kathy and takes over wuthering hieghts and henry becomes the servent around there hecliff marries kathy's sister in law on edgars side to get revenge on her and issablle becomes issabelle linton! and he never pays attention to her she withers out and just fades in the depressing household of linton, hecliff over hears kathys scarlet fever returns that she's dying issablle chases after him and says let her die in edgars arms, but he rushes to his horse and goes to the woman he really loves kathy and goes her and her husbands household up to her room shes lying in bed he touches her arm she wakes softly and says "hecliff i didint think you'd be along? he neals by her bed side and rest his head on her lightly crying.....but remembers the way shes been treating him and stands and says why've you done this to me? your just as cruel as your brother when he owned me! only woarse you used me as a lover until you fell in love with money. she she said hecliff please dont hate me dont hate me now u know i love you! always will i was stupid to let riches get in the way of what i really love thats you, she reaches out to him he holds her hand shes feels herself fadding away and says hecliff please take to the window he picks her up and holds her up around her waist and pulls the glass window open there star out ahead gazzing at wuthering heights and she smiled and said how they spent so many endless hours there and how she lovved him uncondictionaly more everyday even now, she told him to meet her there again then her arms droped it was all over!
December 1, 2008
This is a terrific classic movie. Its a beautiful sad love story, and the remake was even better. I have the remake with Ralph Fiennes and Juliette Binoche and I watch it over and over again. Its one of my favorites!!!
November 2, 2008
A super-great film. I hope it has not spoiled the book for me. I cannot imagine how that could be so with such wonderful storytelling here. Still, gotta wonder about the curse of the chicken before the egg...or egg before the chicken...however you want to look at it.
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