Friday, January 19, 2018

Friday, January 19, 2018 10:22 am by Cristina in , , , ,    No comments
DVD Talk reviews the Blu-ray release of Wuthering Heights 1970.
In some respects it's more faithful than the far better regarded 1939 film directed by William Wyler. The cast is excellent, and better suited to their parts than those in the 1939 film version. It lacks the Hollywood polish of that adaptation but is more historically authentic and the budget, reportedly $2-3 million but probably closer to $1 million, is adequate.
As with Wyler's film, this version of Wuthering Heights dramatizes only the first sixteen of the novel's thirty-four chapters, omitting entirely the subsequent generation of characters, and in so doing alters the ending from Brontë's original story. [...]
Robert Fuest directed. A former production designer-turned-television director (particularly numerous episodes of The Avengers), Fuest's main contributions to Wuthering Heights are evocative expressions of loneliness and isolation through his and cinematographer John Coquillon's lensing of the stark North Yorkshire landscape. Peculiarly enough, his later, much-maligned horror film The Devil's Rain (1975) created similar feelings of dread, albeit in a desert setting.
I never much cared for Wyler's film, believing Merle Oberon (as Catherine) and especially Laurence Olivier (as Heathcliff) miscast. Heyward said at the time, "The last version…portrayed him as a regular nice guy and her as sweetness and light. That was not the truth and Hollywood now goes in for the truth. Heathcliff was a bastard and Cathy a real bitch and that's how they'll be in this film."
That's not inaccurate. It's pretty hard to accept the notion of a young Olivier covered in grime and sleeping in a barn, but Dalton looks like he belongs there. Likewise, Anna Calder-Marshall's mesmerizing Catherine projects an ethereal eccentricity, like a woman whose emotions and loyalties are continually short-circuiting. This Wuthering Heights largely rejects the romanticism of the 1939 version, a distortion, really, of Brontë's themes, that nevertheless influenced most subsequent adaptations and percetions of the work generally. In this version, even Hindley subtly, gradually, becomes more sympathetic during the film's second half. The 1939 film also incorrectly set the film in the middle nineteenth century, supposedly because producer Samuel Goldwyn preferred the fashions of that period to the authentic Regency styles of earlier that century.
Beyond the fine principal performances of Calder-Marshall, Dalton, and Julian Glover, Judy Cornwell is especially good as Nellie, who unlike other adaptations secretly is in love with Hindley, a device that adds to the film's effectiveness. In smaller roles, Witchfinder General stars Ogilvy and Hillary Dwyer [Heath] (as Isabella Linton) are good, as are all the younger players, while great veteran character actors like Harry Andrews, Rosalie Crutchley, Hugh Griffith (as Dr. Kenneth), Aubrey Woods (as Joseph, another Earnshaw servant) and many others have fine moments.
Adding class to this atypical AIP production, Michel Legrand was brought in to write the film's excellent score, while Maurice Binder designed its titles. (...)
Parting Thoughts
Not at all bad, AIP's film of Wuthering Heights (boy, does that sound weird) is perfectly respectable; not perfect, but in many ways extremely well done. Highly Recommended. (Stuart Galbraith)
The Telegraph features another 1970s creation based on Wuthering Heights: Kate Bush's song, which will have been released 40 years ago tomorrow.
At around midnight on a clear London night in the spring of 1977, an 18-year-old Kate Bush sat at an upright piano in her flat in Wickham Road, Brockley, and wrote Wuthering Heights. Inspired by the novel by Emily Brontë, with whom Bush realised she shared a birthday, the song took just a few hours to craft. “There was a full moon, the curtains were open and it came quite easily,” Bush told her fan club in 1979.
But despite the song’s easy creation, no one, Bush included, could have predicted the impact that Wuthering Heights, her debut single, would have on popular culture. Released 40 years ago tomorrow, during an era when disco and punk reigned, it knocked Abba’s Take a Chance on Me off the number one slot and turned Bush into a global star. (Read more) (James Hall)
Musiquero (in Spanish) has written about the song too. Also in Spain, both El País and La Voz de Asturias list what's special about 2018 and both highlight Emily Brontë's bicentenary.

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