Wuthering Heights (1970 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Robert Fuest|
|Produced by||Samuel Z. Arkoff|
James H. Nicholson
|Written by||Emily Brontë (novel)|
Patrick Tilley (screenplay)
|Music by||Michel Legrand|
|Edited by||Ann Chegwidden|
|Distributed by||American International Pictures|
|25 December 1970 (Los Angeles)|
10 June 1971 (UK)
|Box office||$4.5 million (est.)|
Wuthering Heights is a 1970 film directed by Robert Fuest and starring Anna Calder-Marshall and Timothy Dalton. It is based on the classic Emily Brontë novel of the same name. Like the 1939 version, it depicts only the first sixteen chapters concluding with Catherine Earnshaw Linton's death and omits the trials of her daughter, Hindley's son, and Heathcliff's son.
- Anna Calder-Marshall as Catherine Earnshaw Linton
- Timothy Dalton as Heathcliff
- Harry Andrews as Mr. Earnshaw
- Pamela Brown as Mrs. Linton
- Judy Cornwell as Nelly Dean
- James Cossins as Mr. Linton
- Rosalie Crutchley as Mrs. Earnshaw
- Hilary Dwyer as Isabella Linton
- Julian Glover as Hindley Earnshaw
- Hugh Griffith as Dr. Kenneth
- Morag Hood as Frances Earnshaw
- Ian Ogilvy as Edgar Linton
- Peter Sallis as Mr. Shielders
This film version differs from the book in several ways, and most of the differences involve Hindley Earnshaw. First it takes a more sympathetic look at Hindley. Usually portrayed as being a cruel oppressor of Heathcliff, in this version he is persecuted by his father and lives in Heathcliff's shadow. Also in this version, Nelly Dean, the narrator, is shown as being in love with Hindley and unable to express her feelings due to their class difference. After his wife's death, Hindley goes through a hedonistic stage but finally pulls himself out of it.
At the end of the film, perhaps the most controversial of all the differences, Hindley succeeds in fatally shooting Heathcliff and remains the owner of Wuthering Heights. Heathcliff and Cathy's ghosts are then reunited.
When first introducing Heathcliff, the film also suggests that Heathcliff might be Mr Earnshaw's illegitimate son and hence Cathy's half-brother.
AIP were not traditionally associated with Gothic romance, but were inspired to make the film by the success of Romeo and Juliet (1966).
I'm the only American here. For the first time in 30 years Hollywood said to me, 'No big names, no huge publicity, just a good film that stands on its merits'. This is very encouraging except now we stand naked in judgement. It has to be really good with two to three million dollars invested. The last version, with Laurence Olivier as Heathcliff and Merle Oberon as Cathy, 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.
At the box office, it failed to attract receipts and audience.
Vincent Canby of The New York Times remarked that the film "is simply petulant when it tries to be overwrought, which may be what American International Pictures publicity people mean when they describe the film as 'youth-oriented.'" Variety called it "a competent, tasteful, frequently even lovely re-adaptation of Emily Bronte's Gothic, mystical love story. But the brooding tension, the electric passion of two lovers compelled to an inevitable tragedy is not generated." Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune gave the film one star out of four and wrote that the actors "are simply not equal to the demands of the script that, if not controlled, easily slips into laughable melodrama," adding that "the film has the unfortunate physical appearance of a vampire tale."
Kevin Thomas of the Los Angeles Times stated, "At the tag end of 1970, the sight of Emily Bronte's Cathy Earnshaw running all over those Yorkshire moors shouting Heathcliff! Heathcliff! seems supremely silly—at least in AIP's handsome new version of 'Wuthering Heights' ... The trouble is that it's impossible to care about any of these people, so self-indulgent are they in their romanticism. As a result, you come away from the film thinking how much healthier and honest are today's young people, the audience for which this picture presumably is intended." Gary Arnold of The Washington Post panned the film as "inane and incoherent," with "such a tenuous, sickly resemblance to the book it's based on (and whose reputation it's confiscating) that, in simple justice, the producers should be restrained from using the original title. Some of the film characters have the same names as Mis Bronte's characters, but the resemblance ceases right about there: her story, her atmosphere and her emotions are almost totally ignored, bungled or butchered." David Pirie of The Monthly Film Bulletin wrote, "At the very least, the combination of AIP and Emily Brontë promises a creative tension; but it turns out to provide only a flattened and monotonous version of her classic novel ... they have played safe in the worst possible way, reducing and telescoping the action into a meagre, spiritless soap-opera, with everyone lacking conviction and Heathcliff in particular about as demonic as a shy farm-hand."
AIP had announced a sequel Return to Wuthering Heights but it was not made. Neither were other adaptations of classic novels mooted by the studio, including Camille, The House of Seven Gables, and Tale of Two Cities.
|Award||Category||Recipients and nominees||Outcome|
|28th Golden Globe Awards||Best Original Score||Michel Legrand||Nominated|
- "Movies: Opening". Los Angeles Times. December 20, 1970. Calendar, p. 20.
- Thomas, Kevin (December 24, 1970). "A New 'Wuthering Heights'". Los Angeles Times. Part II, p. 8.
- American International Pictures' Profit Steady: Company Says Results for Third Fiscal Quarter Were About the Same as for Year-Ago Period Wall Street Journal (1923 - Current file) [New York, N.Y] 12 Oct 1971: 37.
- Hello, Young Heathcliff, by A. H. Weiler. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 15 June 1969: D15.
- Ronald Faux. "The truth about Heathcliff." Times [London, England] 8 Apr. 1970: 10. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 15 June 2014.
- Canby, Vincent (February 19, 1971). "Screen: Bronte Revival". The New York Times. 23.
- "Film Reviews: Wuthering Heights". Variety. December 16, 1970. 17.
- Siskel, Gene (May 5, 1971). "'Mad Dogs' and..." Chicago Tribune. Section 2, p. 7.
- Arnold, Gary (March 3, 1971). "Withering Wuthering". The Washington Post. C9.
- Pirie, David (June 1971). "Wuthering Heights". The Monthly Film Bulletin. 38 (449): 127.
- "Wuthering Heights (1970)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 28 May 2019.
- 'Play It' Director Named Murphy, Mary. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 30 July 1971: f13.
- AIP Set to Release 26 Films in 1972 Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 15 Oct 1971: g24.