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WUTHERING HEIGHTS ($25) is one of the cinema’s great romantic classics, in addition to being one of the most haunting tales about the destructive power of love and obsession. Based upon Emily Bronté’s classic novel, WUTHERING HEIGHTS is the story of a love so strong that it manages to live on past the grave. Laurence Olivier was at the height of his matinee idol period when he appeared as Bronté’s brooding hero, Heathcliff. Merle Oberon’s beauty, in addition to her vulnerability made her portrayal of Cathy Linton sympathetic, despite the character’s obvious flaws.

The story of WUTHERING HEIGHTS follows the failed love affair of Heathcliff and Cathy. Cathy fears Heathcliff’s poverty so much that she marries another man for his wealth. After several years, Heathcliff amasses his own fortune and sets about to either reclaim Cathy or have his revenge on the world. Heathcliff does what he sets out to do, spreading enough misery that he drives a heartbroken Cathy to an early grave. In addition to the fine performances of the two leads, WUTHERING HEIGHTS features outstanding supporting performances. David Niven is in fine form as Edgar Linton, the man Cathy marries. Geraldine Fitzgerald delivers her finest screen performance as the naïve Isabella Linton, who falls in love with dark and handsome Heathcliff. With names like Flora Robson, Donald Crisp, Leo G. Carroll and Cecil Kellaway, the cast of WUTHERING HEIGHTS reads like a "Who’s Who" of British character actors.

HBO Home Video offers WUTHERING HEIGHTS on DVD in fine looking presentation that does justice to Gregg Toland’s spectacular black and white cinematography. Toland was one of the grand masters of black and white cinematography and his Academy Award for WUTHERING HEIGHTS was well deserved. Other than its performances, Toland’s haunting cinematography is the film’s strongest component. The black and white image on the DVD has very deep blacks and excellent contrast. There was a bit of film grain one could notice throughout the presentation, but it was nothing too bothersome. Digital compression artifacts were never really an issue on this DVD.

The Dolby Digital monaural soundtrack was fairly clean, considering the state of sound technology in 1939. Other soundtrack options include French, Spanish and Italian language tracks. Subtitles are available in English, French and Spanish.

Through the interactive menus one could access a theatrical trailer, an interview with actress Geraldine Fitzgerald and cast biographies.

WUTHERING HEIGHTS is a film classic that all serious collectors will wish to own.




DVD reviews are Copyright © 1998 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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