To Wuthering Heights on the wide English moor,
An old Mr. Earnshaw brings home a boy poor.
This Heathcliff grows up with young Catherine Earnshaw,
But her brother Hindley is deemed immature
And sent off to college to join the bourgeois.
Once Mr. Earnshaw is resigned to the ground,
Proud Hindley (now married) then comes back around.
Though Heathcliff and Cathy have grown very close,
Her brother makes Heathcliff do labor unbound,
But Heathcliff works hard, both intense and morose.
When Cathy spends time with the Lintons nearby,
She calls Heathcliff “dirty” and holds her nose high.
He thus feels betrayed, though he loves Cathy still,
And runs off in shame, causing Cathy to cry.
Her guilt and lovesickness then makes her fall ill.
She’s nursed back to health and decides that she’ll wed
The rich Edgar Linton, since Heathcliff has fled,
But three short years later, her sweetheart returns,
Having bettered himself after what Cathy said.
Yet deep in his heart, a dark vengeance now burns.
Poor Hindley, a widower drunken with debt,
Plays cards with sly Heathcliff, who wins every bet.
Soon Heathcliff controls his estate by all rights
And keeps making Cathy and Edgar upset,
As he plans his vengeance from Wuthering Heights.
Isabella Linton, Edgar’s sister, is wooed
By Heathcliff to make Cathy suffer subdued,
But, when Cathy’s ill with a child inside,
It’s Heathcliff that holds her to settle their feud,
But it is too late, and soon Cathy has died.
While Heathcliff is tortured by love unfulfilled,
He’s haunted by Cathy, and hope is instilled.
Yet Hindley, so bitter, then settles the score,
And, following Cathy’s ghost, Heathcliff is killed
And seen running off with his love through the moor.

Wuthering Heights is a powerful story of love and hate that still remains popular 167 years after Emily Bronte first published it. While it has spawned countless retellings in film and television, I chose this 1970 version starring Timothy Dalton and Anna Calder-Marshall because of its significance to my mom. She saw it at a young age, and it remains one of the surest ways to make her burst into tears. The haunting Golden Globe-nominated score by Michel Legrand is alone enough to affect her, and she can only see it once a year at most.

There are three kinds of guys when it comes to tearjerker chick flicks: those who refuse to see them at all, those who sit through them grudgingly and remain stoic while the girl drains most of her ocular fluids, and those who may not be hit the same but comfort and understand their friend’s emotional anguish. Every guy should try to be the last type, even when the film doesn’t capture his attention like a good action film. I say this from personal experience, having had to console my mother over the gloriously sad and bittersweet ending of Wuthering Heights.

Even if it’s not particularly exciting, the film certainly deserves a watch, from the excellent period sets and costumes to the sweeping views of the misty countryside. The acting is first-rate and vastly superior to the 1939 version. I did like Laurence Olivier’s smoldering performance in that classic, which stands in contrast to Dalton’s more impetuous, almost animalistic depiction of Heathcliff, but Anna Calder-Marshall as Cathy is extraordinarily better than Merle Oberon’s almost laughable acting. Judy Cornwell as Nelly and Julian Glover as Hindley also give noteworthy performances. Overall, the film feels like a hybrid between Masterpiece Theatre, the old classics of Hollywood’s golden era, and some more recent Gothic romances.

It may have made multiple changes to the book (Hindley doesn’t kill Heathcliff, and the whole second half is left out of the film), but the 1970 Wuthering Heights remains the best version I’ve seen. Yes, it’s an unrepentant tearjerker in which pretty much everyone acts foolishly, but it is also an admirable adaptation with deep and troubled relationships and an ending at once crushing and heartening.

Best line: (Heathcliff, after being told that vengeance is for God) “Why should God have all the satisfaction?”

Artistry: 8
Characters/Actors: 8
Entertainment: 6
Visual Effects: N/A
Originality: 8
Watchability: 4
Other (crying effect): +4
TOTAL: 38 out of 60

Next: #235 – The River Wild

© 2014 S. G. Liput

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