This is a little different than my usual Non-Austen Films for Austen Fans as I really only recommend this one particular episode, rather than the complete series. And because it is just one episode of the series, I need to lay a little background.
Sweet Valley High was a book series I started reading in the fifth grade. As I kid I really liked the series and wanted to live in their idealic and exciting Californian world. As an adult I know they are not the best written book series. Most of them are cheesy, silly, and sometimes don’t make any sense; but these were the ’80s-’90s versions of Gossip Girl or One Tree Hill except with a different type of drama. The thing I really can’t get over is how “morally superior” Elizabeth acts even though at times she is worse than Jessica.
But I digress. The book series follows twin sisters, Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield. Both are juniors in high school, blonde, 5’6, and size sixes. Elizabeth is the smart, responsible one who dreams of being a journalist or writer; while Jessica is the fashionable, cheerleader, social butterfly, that dreams of parties and popularity.
They live in Sweet Valley, near Los Angeles, and attend school with their friends. The first few books focused on the two girls and the people they interacted with, but the later ones were divided into two stories: story A about a friend or relative and story B on the twins. Starting at Book 95 the series became split up into mini arcs with 3-5 books following one particular storyline. Around Book 80 the series got a bit darker with the topics ranging from drugs, school dances, serial killers, sports competitions, werewolves, princes, vampires, kidnapping, stalkers, a face/off face swapping resort, etc. You know normal teenage girl stuff.
Because of their popularity the books were turned into a TV series in the ‘90s which sort-of-not-really followed the book series. As a fan it was fun to watch, although the stories weren’t always accurate, and it was my first introduction to Jensen Ackles.
This episode comes along in season three. Elizabeth developed a crush on her coworker at her internship at the Sweet Valley News, and dumps Todd (only to find out that the guy was a jerk). The two got back together, only to break up when Todd tries to make extra money accepting some pay-for-play in basketball. Meanwhile, Jessica was dating a rock musician, A.J. and advances his career by getting his music played on the radio which causes musicians to invite them to tour. A. J. wants Jessica to go with him but she declined as she doesn’t want to live her life focused only on him.
In this particular episode, story A focuses on Elizabeth and Todd. Elizabeth is helping her friend Enid get ready for her family reunion and accidentally admits over the student announcements that she is still into Todd. Todd tries to win her back, as he was already planning on it, but Elizabeth is not as open to it as she thinks he is only doing it to show off to everyone.
Story B is the one that I am interested in for this review. Jessica is still getting over A.J and has been spending all her time reading (something she never does for fun) her “new” favorite romantic book, The Silos of Billings, Montana.
The book is about a handsome photographer who is looking to photograph grain silos. Like every romance the photographer is the perfect man, and for once Jessica is not interested in dating any guys, as this fictional one is the only one she wants to see.
In the middle of a reread the doorbell rings and who should it be but a gorgeous photographer named Brad looking to photograph silos.
I always thought this was hilarious as Sweet Valley never seemed to be a farming community. I mean the Fowlers and Morrows has computer chip and computer factories; so it seems odd he’d be in Sweet Valley. I do forgive Jessica for not being logical in this as Brad is played by Jensen Ackles.
Yes, that amazingly handsome man not only stops on her doorstep, but also gets her phone number.
Later Jessica is upset that she hasn’t heard from Brad when Elizabeth tells her that a romantic note was left on their jeep inviting Jessica to a picnic. Jessica is over the moon to date Brad and who wouldn’t? Look at him.
Jessica is also doubly excited as it turns out this exact thing happened in her favorite book. Yes, her life has turned into her favorite novel.
The picnic is just as romantic as she dreamed it to be, wiht Brad serving all the romantic food that was eaten in the novel. Everything is perfect…
The next day Brad brings over the photos he took at the picnic and Jessica is disappointed that he didn’t develop them himself and that they turn out to be blurry. He also invites her out to a party. Typically good looks are all Jessica cares about, but she’s actually a little disappointed that Brad isn’t exactly like the novel.
The party turns out to be a big surprise as it is Enid’s family reunion. Enid has a lot of interesting cousins, one of which is Brad. Brad’s interesting characteristic is that when he reads a book he loves, he becomes the main character in the book, living his life just as they do. He had just finished reading The Silos of Billings Montana, loved it, and decided to be it.
Strangely Jessica is freaked out at the thought of dating Enid’s cousin, something true fans know isn’t true as again all they need to be is hot for her to date them, and instead Jessica takes off.
I think you might have guessed why I recommend this episode for Jane Austen fans. This reminds me a lot of Northanger Abbey with real life “mimicking” a novel, the effect reading novels can have on people, etc. Brad in a lot of ways is similar to both Mr. Tilney and Catherine Morland.
I also always thought that Brad would be someone fun to date as he would want to mimic fictional characters. Like imagine how great it would be if he read your favorite book? And wanted to be that character? Just make sure he doesn’t read a book wiht a character you hate.
But yes, a fun silly episode for fans of Northanger Abbey.
So even though this year is the 210th anniversary of Pride and Prejudice.
I went with a Northanger Abbey quote because I am going abroad to Ireland in the fall!!! I’m so excited!
But even though I am deciding to make this my “Catherine Morland” year (I’m coming for you Mr. Tilney)-I do plan to try and review/post something Pride and Prejudice related every month. Now I know I failed in reviewing Emma (1972)-but I’m really going to try and do my best!
Now on to the year in review!
This year I had over 56,000 views! That might not seem like a lot to some but I’m thankful for each and every one.
The Top Five Posts
Here are the top five most viewed posts of the year, although again none were posted this year. I guess whatever I post in the actual year is never popular enough? Who knows.
Have you watched every version of Jane Austen’s works in film and TV and now wonder what to watch next? That’s why I started making a list of films that have components similar to Jane Austen’s works but not an exact retelling or a variation.
What do you read after you’ve read all of Jane Austen’s works? That’s why I started making a list of books that have components similar to Jane Austen’s works but are not an exact retelling or a variation.
On Instagram (@janeaustenrunsmylife) I try to achieve a Bookish Bingo every month. I usually read whatever I like and then see which slot it fills. I write how it fits the categories in my stories and save them for the month and the one after, replacing it with the new month’s selections. It is a lot of fun, and I recommend trying it out.
I also did a countdown to Halloween by reading a chapter of Northanger Abbey everyday, created 31 Days of Hallotean countdown to Halloween, and a countdown to Christmas with my Advent calendar the 25 Teas of Christmas.
I celebrated my 10th Blogiversary this year, my niece and I reviewing Austenland. Thank you to all who have been a part these past 10 years. Also on my Instagram I asked a series of questions and posted the results. I asked the following questions this year:
If Austen characters could have any food we have today, which one do you think they would go the most crazy over?
If the Jane Austen characters were alive today, what jobs would they have?
If you could cast any actor/actress in a Jane Austen production, who would it b
If you could cast any actor (alive or dead) as Mr. Darcy, who would
If you couldn’t marry one of Jane Austen’s Main Characters/love interests, which character would you marry?
If you were to make a modern adaption of Jane Austen, which book would you pick and what changes would you make to have it be ‘modern’
Jane Austen opinion you will never be talked out of?
What are your top 5 Jane Austen adaptions/retellings?
What is a Jane Austen themed tradition, oddity, or eccentricity you have/have in your family?
What is the best Austen themed product you have purchased or been gifted?
What is your favorite Jane Austen book cover?
What Pop Culture thing would the Austen characters be into?
What’s your favorite costume/outfit from a Jane Austen film.
Which Austen parent is the worst?
Which character in Austen’s works do you dislike/hate
Which Jane Austen character deserves a novel showcasing them?
Which is the worst film or TV adaption of Jane Austen’s work
25 Films of Christmas
I like to watch a Christmas film every day in December. Theses are the ones I watched this year.
So after you watch every single version of Jane Austen movies, what do you have to watch next?
That’s why I started this list, to have non-Austen films that Austen fans can enjoy.
And since it is Christmas Eve, why not a Christmas Non-Austen Film for Austen Fans?
Eve (Lana McKissack) and Lacey (Kimberly Daugherty) are sisters; Eve loves Christmas and Christmas films, while Lacey is not a fan of either. Both of them aren’t having a wonderful Christmas as Lacey was ghosted by another jerk, Eve’s boss doesn’t know her name and won’t consider her for graphic design, and the heat is broken in their apartment.
This Christmas Eve, Eve tries to add more Christmas spirit in the apartment to the chagrin of her older sister, and it accidentally blows the lights. With a cold and dark apartment the two sisters decide to instead go out and look at the Christmas lights. As they do, they run into a Santa with a red kettle and Eve makes a wish that she could have a Christmas movie Christmas.
The next day the girls wake up in a strange picturesque town, a cute little cottage, with an adorable elderly woman who claims to be their grandmother. Yes, they are now in a Christmas Movie!
Eve immediately takes to this and loves it, with three possible “Christmas movie” plots to choose from. Lacey, on the other hand, doesn’t like the silly town and all the free stuff she is getting (why? I’m not sure).
Eve ends up choosing move plotline number three, the ruined Christmas Festival. She teams up with the local innkeeper Dustin (played by the handsome Ryan Merriman). The two grow closer as they plot a way to fix everything on a budget, while Eve also discovers that she is dating the international pop star by none other than Eve’s favorite actor Chad Matthew Munroe (Randy Wayne).
Everything is going great until Dustin’s ex Noelle, comes to town and tries to win him back; along with her messing up all their plans for the festival. Will Eve be able to fix everything in time? Will she be able to choose her perfect leading man or end up with no one?
Meanwhile, the realistic Lacey is having a hard time living in a “picture perfect movie” town. While Eve blossoms, doing well at everything and experiencing the “Christmas movie Christmas”; Lacey does not. She visits a bakery one day and meets the baker Paul (Brant Daugherty), who’s cute and wants to be her friend-or boyfriend if he’ll let her. He makes her cute cards, and tries to bring her into the “Christmas movie Christmas” fun. Will Lacey try something different and join the Christmas fun, or will she remain a Christmas scrinch (Scrooge + Grinch)?
I really enjoyed this film and it reminded me a lot of Sense and Sensibility. Both havesisterswhere the elder one (Lacey and Elinor) are realistic and sensible, while the younger sister (Eve and Marianne) are romantic and pulled into things by their feelings.
Like Marianne, Eve also has two men interested in her. One of them is very romantic, shallow, and seems like her dream guy; while the other love interest is deep, makes his interest known from the beginning, and also is a romantic character.
Besides that this film is fun and full of Holiday cheer. It laughingly uses all the different Christmas movie tropes and is enjoyable from beginning to end. I strongly recommend it.
If interested, this film is on tubi and YouTube.
Merry Christmas everyone! I hope you all have a wonderful holiday!
You have thirteen hours in which to solve the labyrinth, before your baby brother becomes one of us… forever.
Labyrinth is one of my friend’s favorite movies. The first time she wanted us to watch it, years and years ago, I was like I don’t think I’m going to like this movie.
Yep, I was 100% wrong as I Loved it!
This movie is a ton of fun and is one of my favorites. I can always watch it.
It is such a great film and stars the amazing David Bowie and Jennifer Connelly.
Did you know Jim Henson originally wanted Sting to play Jareth the Goblin King? He only picked David Bowie because his kids loved him. This makes me think of Nightmare on Elm Street and the decision to cast Johnny Depp. Good thing Henson listened to his kids. I love Sting, but David Bowie was perfect in this role.
David Bowie as Jareth the Goblin King is supposed to be the villain of the film, but at the same time he channels the teenage dream/ideal of a man. I don’t know if it is his Bad Boy nature, his awesome mix of leather jacket/fantasy coat, his ‘80’s glam rock hair, or just the David Bowie of it all; but he’s amazing and every scene with him is a treasure. He makes every girls’ heart beat every time he enters the frame.
But I’m not only reviewing this film because it is a favorite and fits for Halloween, but also because it is a:
Yes, this film reminds me a lot of Jane Austen, which I will share why at the end of the review.
So our story begins with teenager Sarah, who is out at the park acting out a scene from her favorite book, The Labyrinth. Unfortunately, she keeps forgetting the last line. only to realize she also forgot how late it is.
Sarah: Give me the child. Through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered, I have fought my way here to the castle beyond the Goblin City to take back the child that you have stolen. For my will is as strong as yours, and my kingdom is as great…[thunder rumbles] For my will is as strong as yours, my kingdom as great…D***. [pulls the Labyrinth book out of her pocket] I can never remember that line. [reads] You have no power over me.
She has to run home and take care of her baby brother (half brother) who she dislikes, as her stepmother (who she hates) and father are going out that night. I always thought Sarah’s mother died, but after some googling, it turns out that Sarah’s mother was an actress who left her family for another man. As Sarah doesn’t have her mom present to be angry with, she has directed all that toward her stepmother and little brother.
Sarah is doubly angry as not only did she not get to finish recreating her favorite book, but she has to babysit while her parents are out, and she discovered one of her stuffed animals was taken and put in Toby’s room. Her teen angst has hit an all time high and she erupts, wishing her brother would be taken away by the Goblin King.
The goblins listen and do take him. When Sarah realizes that Toby is gone, she screams out that she wants him back and Jareth, the Goblin King, makes a deal with her. I always thought that Jareth saw something different about herself, a worthy opponent to face off with. She will have 13 hours to solve the labyrinth-if she does she gets the baby, if she fails he becomes a goblin forever.
Sarah begins her journey and believes she can outsmart the labyrinth and the Goblin King, but quickly things are not exactly like the stories she grew up reading. Her plan to leave a mark of the places she traveled fails, she solves the logic puzzle but falls down a hole with grabby hands, encounters fairies who bite, etc. She eventually finds Hoggle, a troll, who agrees to help her in exchange for her bracelet.
But Hoggle is working for Jareth and is supposed to lead her away, so she will lose. However, Sarah not only uses her cunning to get him to help, but Hoggle begins to like her too. This is something Jareth is none too pleased about.
Jareth: Ah, what have we here?
Hoggle: Oh, uh, nothin’.
Jareth: [removing his disguise at the last second] Nothing? Nothing? NOTHING? Nothing, tra la la?
That’s one of my favorite parts of this film. It is just so silly yet fits. Sarah then sasses Jareth and ends up losing time from her quest. Yep, not the best idea but Sarah will not give up. That’s another reason why this film is such a great one to watch. Sarah is your typical teen and she can be dramatic, whimsy, and at times can be whiny (like most teens), but she’s also a dreadful determined woman who will not stop until she accomplishes what she is setting out to do. She feels very real and is someone you can root for. I love this exchange between her and Jareth:
Sarah: That’s not fair!
Jareth: You say that so often, I wonder what your basis for comparison is?
After their encounter, Sarah sees a Wiseman who she exchanges a ring for-but doesn’t get that much wisdom in return. They continue on and Sarah ends up adding to their party when she saves Ludo, a creature that can call rocks. Ludo is so cute and sweet, I definitely would want him on my questing team.
After this she enters the forest, having been separated from Ludo and Hoggle and encounters the creepiest things ever and the true villains of this story: the Fierys. I hate these things as they seriously creeped me out when I first watched it, and I still struggle with watching this scene. Ugh, they need to just go to die with those creatures for Fraggke Rock, they creeped me out too.
But Sarah is able to defeat these monsters and is reunited with Hoggle who saves her. But not for long as Hoggle has met with the Goblin King who wants Hoggle to ensure that Sarah does not defeat him. Hoggle has been given a peach that will put Sarah to sleep and he must do it or else he will be cursed to live in the Bog of Eternal Stench.
After they are reunited they find themselves in the Bog of Eternal Stench, the only way out a bridge protected by a fox like soldier. I love this characters of Sir Didymus and his noble steed the sheepdog named Ambrosius. These characters are absolute fun.
Like in most fairy stories and legends the bridge cannot be crossed, but Sarah outwits him.
Sarah: Okay, let’s handle this thing logically. What exactly have you sworn?
Didymus: I have sworn with my life’s blood, none shall pass this way without *my* permission!
Sarah: Well… May we have your permission?
Didymus: Well I, uh… I… that is, uh… hm… Yes?
They are able to escape the Bog with help from Ludo who can speak to the rocks. From here they enter an enchanted forest and Sarah, as she has been in the Labyrinth for hours, says she is hungry. Hoggle gives her the enchanted peach and instantly regrets it and runs away ashamed at his cowardice.
Sarah wakes up in a dream, a ball with the romantic song As the World Falls Down.She is almost distracted from her quest, but when she hears the clock she proves herself to not be any ordinary girl and escapes by waking up with a Junk lady who returns her home. This quest wasn’t real, just another dream and she has now awakened. Film over.
I know, it’s too easy and too simple. And Sarah knows it, she is truly a worthy opponent for Jareth.
The Junk Lady: What’s the matter, my dear, don’t you like your toys?
Sarah: [comes to her senses] It’s all junk!
The Junk Lady: [picks up a music box] Well, what about this? This is not junk, eh?
Sarah: [smashes music box] Yes, it is! [Sarah’s room crumbles without her notice] I have to save Toby!
Sarah wakes up and goes with Didymus and Ludo to the Goblin City. Hoggle joins them and apologizes and they fight the Goblins and more as they continue to fight.
Then we have one of the best scenes when Sarah has to face off against Jareth. First Jareth comes out of the shadows, intense music playing as he does. I love the way the scene is fuzzy at the corners to give it that dreamlike quality! Oh yes, it’s fantastic! The pacing and the dialogue is just great too!
The way Jareth pleads with Sarah tempting her almost convincing her- but props to Sarah, she knows better what makes a healthy relationship than most people-refusing his charm and promises. And the thing I love the most, Sarah not being able remember the lines “you have no power over me” is so powerful. Such few and simple words, but at times can be so hard for people to say and believe. But finally she does, declares it to the Goblin King, and wins the Labyrinth.
Sarah: Give me the child.
Jareth: Sarah, beware. I have been generous up ’til now. I can be cruel.
Sarah: Generous? What have you done that’s generous?
Jareth: *Everything*! Everything that you wanted I have done. You asked that the child be taken. I took him. You cowered before me, I was frightening. I have reordered time. I have turned the world upside down, and I have done it all for *you*! I am exhausted from living up to your expectations. Isn’t that generous?
Sarah: Through dangers untold. And hardships unnumbered. I have fought my way here to the castle; beyond the goblin city, to take back the child that you have stolen. My will is as strong as yours, and my kingdom as great…
Jareth: Stop! Look what I’m offering you. Your dreams.
Sarah: My kingdom as great… my kingdom as great… damn, I can never remember that line.
Jareth: I ask for so little. Just fear me. Love me. Do as I ask, and I shall be your slave.
Sarah: You have no power over me! YOU have no power over ME! [the clock chimes 13:00 at that moment. Defeated, Jareth sends Sarah and Toby back to the real world where the clock finishes chiming midnight]
She defeats him and goes home. At first going to say goodbye to her fantasies, dreams, and childhood-but deciding to not give it up just yet!
Ludo: [in the mirror] Goodbye, Sarah.
Didymus: And remember, fair maiden, should you need us…
Hoggle: Yes, should you need us, for any reason at all…
Sarah: I need you, Hoggle.
Hoggle: You do?
Sarah: [nods] I don’t know why, but every now and again in my life – for no reason at all – I need you. All of you.
Hoggle: You do? Well… WHY DIDN’T YOU SAY SO?
[Sarah] spins around and sees them all in her room, including the goblins. She hugs them all, and a huge party begins]
I love this film and I think the more you watch it the more you see, relate to, and love. I also really appreciate that they didn’t end this with a romance but friendship, that’s not something that is not really done all that often.
Another thing I like about this movie is that it is similar to Total Recall, in that the film lets you decide whether this really happened to Sarah or if it is all in her mind. In her room we see the characters that surface later in the film: a stuffed animal that looks like Sir Didymus on her dresser, a doll that looks like Ludo on the shelves next to her door, a Firey doll on a shelves next to her bed, bookends with Goblins reminiscent of Hoggle on her dresser, a figurine of Jareth on the right hand side of her desk, newspaper clippings of Sarah’s famous actress mom with another man (David Bowie), the dress that she wears in the ballroom scene is on the woman in her music box, a wooden maze game which looks like the Labyrinth is on her desk, and a copy of the famous picture by M.C. Escher which is used in the final confrontation with Jareth. So the question is did the Goblin King use these elements in his creations to give Sarah a fair chance, borrowing items similar to her surroundings which is sometimes done in fairy stories, did he choose her because he wanted a worthy opponent, does the Labyrinth change itself to Whomever enters, or is this all a teen angst dream. You decide.
So why do I consider this a Non-Austen Film for Austen Fans? First of all we have the character of Sarah being one who loves to read, and live in a fantasy world; which reminds me of both Marianne Dashwood and Catherine Morland. Both Marianne and Catherine love to read and are dreamers. All three characters are also very sweet, kind, naive, and innocent.
Sarah shares even more similarities with Marianne as both are young in spirit. Sarah still plays with dolls and stuffed animals and Marianne believes she knows all about love and life from the poems she reads.
Both girls have also been betrayed by people they love, Sarah having her mom leave the family and now having a new mother and brother, while Marianne’s father fails to protect his daughters by planning for their future; along with her having a brother that broke his promise to protect and care for her and her sisters.
Both Marianne and Sarah are also extremely emotional and act on their feelings, expecting others to be as honest as them. Sarah never considers that Hoggle could be deceitful or someone she shouldn’t trust, even after he tells her (and Jareth) that he is planning on sending her back to the beginning. Marianne never considers that Mr. Willoughby could not be as earnest in his affections or even that her lack of fortune might be something that could cause a roadblock in their relationship.
Sarah, Marianne, and Catherine all fits
go on a journey that teaches them about themselves and help them grow and mature. For Sarah she learns to love and care for her brother and not to speak out in such haste, Marianne is taught to not always act on her emotions and feelings but use sense as well, and Catherine learns to not always trust everyone and to use caution instead of imagination.
A fantastic film with wonderful imagery, amazing songs, and just a lovely storyline. It’s a film you can’t help but love and watch again and again.
Some friends and I went axe throwing a few weeks ago and dressed up as fantasy characters. I was going to be the Goblin King, but my niece pointed out that I looked like Sarah. So of course I had to dress up as her. I couldn’t find the vest she wears and had to with what I did have. Pretty close right?
“Catherine Earnshaw, may you not rest so long as I live on! I killed you. Haunt me, then! Haunt your murderer! I know that ghosts have wandered on the Earth. Be with me always. Take any form, drive me mad, only do not leave me in this dark alone where I cannot find you. I cannot live without my life! I cannot die without my soul.”
The American posters for Wuthering Heights are super boring, while the foreign ones are all much more interesting, although I do like the one above a lot! I really love whoever decided to make Heathcliff green as he looks like a monster (or should I say Munster?).
When I was plotting out what filmto start Horrofest X with, I was, as usual, struggling. I always want to be sure the first post is a good one, a film that I adore or is special to me. This year the first film was supposed to be from the 1930s and as I started looking at 1930s films, I realized I had already reviewed a lot of my favorite 1930s horror films. On a whim I decided to search backwards, starting with the last year of the decade, 1939, and when I saw Wuthering Heights, I knew it was the perfect film to begin with.
Wuthering Heights (1939) is an adaption of the 19th century gothic novel of the same name, by Emily Brontë. It is a novel I was obsessed with as a tween and teen. I used to read this book over and over again, and I loved Heathcliff more than I should have. But you know teenage girls, they tend to be attracted to the bad boy who “only needs someone to truly show them love and care and then they will change their ways!” Not true at all, but I believed it, and believed it of Heathcliff (at least until I married one and realized that it was a mistake). I essentially was Isabella.
I still enjoy the book, although my ardor for Heathcliff is not as it was a tween/teen, as it is extremely well written and sucks you in from the moment Cathy taps on the windowpane. And this adaption is one that I haven’t seen in a while but have loved because of one truly handsome and amazing man, Laurence Olivier.
Laurence Olivier has always been one of my favorite actors and classic Hollywood heartthrobs and he truly does this part justice. Jane Austen fans should recognize him as the OG Darcy (and even though that film heavily strays from the book I love his version of Darcy as well). He never would have gotten that part if it wasn’t for this film, this one made him a star! Laurence Olivier was just fantastic in this as he can do the moody mcbroody parts so well.
Wuthering Heights is a book where the characters all have issues with each other and spend a majority of time fighting or upset with each other. The process of making this film was another one of those cases of “life imitating art” as the cast spent a lot of time behind the scene not getting along at all. This film was directed by William Wyler and he and Laurence Olivier argued a lot. Olivier really resented his directing style of doing multiple takes with slight differences, (prior to this Olivier had done little film acting and more stage work). Later on, he credited Wyler for a lot of growth, but at the time he was heavily annoyed.
Merle Oberon and Olivier also had a rocky relationship. The two had gotten along in a previous film shoot, but spent this one yelling and arguing with each other whenever filming stopped and could not stand each other.
David Niven and Wyler historically did not get along and Niven was dreading this film. At one point Wyler was upset that Niven wouldn’t cry, and wanted to do repeated takes until he did; but Niven told him he had a no crying clause in his contract. Wyler made him get a copy of the contract to prove that this was true. Niven and Oberon also hated working with each other as the two had a romance go sour.
Merle Oberon did not care for working with Wyler as well as his methods of perfection and pushing his actors and actresses rivals Stanley Kuberick. One rain scene he made Oberon do over and over again until she became so sick she vomited and had a fever. When she came back from the hospital he immediately began pushing her as he had before, but she refused to film the scene unless heaters were brought in to protect her health.
You’ll also notice that the clothing is not accurate to the time period as the director changed the clothing to be the 1840s instead of early 1800s as he liked those fashions better.
Samuel Goldwyn Mayer wanted to change the story too as he thought it was too dark for a romance, luckily this suggestion was not accommodated. I used to think Wuthering Heights was a romance, but now as an adult having experienced someone like Heathcliff but worse, the real romance of Wuthering Heights, is the spooky elements and the mysterious moors.
I haven’t seen this movie in years, but I remember really enjoying it. I know it isn’t your typical “horror film”, but I’m counting it as it has Gothic elements, ghosts, and plenty of psychopaths/sociopaths. I know a lot of people talk about Heathcliff’s behavior and dislike him, but to be honest he really doesn’t deserve as much hate as he gets as every character in this film is a truly terrible person.
The film starts off with the credits but use such romantic music, light and airy-but this manor holds mystery, decay, and trouble.
“Only a stranger lost in a storm would dare knock on the door of Wuthering Heights”.
The story begins with poor Mr. Lockwood. He’s a tenant that started renting on Heathcliff’s land to get away from people. Now he’s lost in a blizzard about to go on a ghostly adventure.
In the house is Heathcliff, scowling, angry, harsh and as cold as the blizzard Mr. Lockwood came in from. This is also a woman, Mrs. Heathcliff, in the home, hard and worn-as weathered as the home they live in. I love this imagery.
Mr. Lockwood is trying to make the best of the rudeness received at the house but you can tell he’s like these people are strange. That night he struggles with sleep, especially when one of the shutters come open. He hears a woman crying and she grabs his hand and holds it tight.
Frightened he calls for Heathcliff who storms over. Mr. Lockwood tells Heathcliff, who screams and pushes him out-pulling open the shutter and calling to “her” again. He’s so sad and brokenhearted, making you feel for Heathcliff.
Mr. Lockwood is shocked and the housekeeper Nelly tells him that Heathcliff is searching for the girl, Cathy, who died many years ago. Mr. Lockwood doesn’t believe in ghosts, but thinks he is just seeing things. Nelly then decides to tell him the story of what happened all those years ago.
We then go back to 40 years earlier, when Wuthering Heights was a bright and happy place. Wuthering Heights was never a truly happy place in the book. It was less miserable, true, but the late Mr. Earnshaw was not a kind man at all and produced a horrible son who then abuses his sister and Heathcliff. This house has housed misery for so long time; it is seeped into the bones of the manor.
Mr. Earnshaw returns from his trip to Liverpool and instead of just bringing gifts back he also brings a boy-dark skinned, dirty, a “gypsy” child. Mr. Earnshaw kindly admonishes his children for their rude behavior to Heathcliff and all I can think is this Earnshaw is nothing like the Earnshaw in the book. He puts Heathcliff in Hindley’s room, and Hindley is none too pleased about that.
Mr. Earnshaw has been coughing an awful lot ever since he returned home. You all know what that means-he’s on death’s door. He’s not long for this world.
Heathcliff and Cathy get along swimmingly, racing horses and getting into all kinds of mischief. In one game, Heathcliff wins the race against Cathy and wins her as his slave. His joy quickly ends as Hindley, resentful of the love Heathcliff receives from his father and hating the ire he gets, bullies him. He takes his horse from him, reminding him again he will never be anything as he is a nobody, an orphan; he doesn’t even have a last name. And in a time when where you came and your opportunities from were all tangled up in name and family; Heathcliff has nothing. And he is in a system where he will never be able to achieve or grasp anything-unless he does it in slightly illegal ways. In a lot of ways Heathcliff makes me think of Jay Gatsby from The Great Gatsby. Both are single minded and have an obsession with their first love. Both will do anything possible to get a position of power, wealth, status-even if they need to do it in illegal ways. Both have no qualms using others to get what they want-Heathcliff is just more rude and cruel about his methods lashing out in pain instead of living in denial.
Heathcliff and Hindley fight with Cathy defending Heathcliff and turning against her brother. Hindley beats Heathcliff up, although it is really badly choreographed. Heathcliff is angry and it is pretty odd but I have another comparison. The child actor who played Heathcliff is amazingly spot on, he does a fantastic jobbut the way he and Hindley interacted right now-it makes me think if a mafia movie like The Godfather. The way Heathcliff is so calm and cool-he’s another Michel Corleone.
Heathcliff is calmly furious, which is extremely frightening, and is prepared to wait and find a way to do anything possible to make Hindley pay. If I was Hindley, I would be very, very afraid.
Cathy wants to have fun, but Heathcliff only wants revenge! Cathy does finally convince him and they ride off together. The two play together with Heathcliff pretending to be Cathy’s prince, and it is a super cute scene that really gives you a view into their relationship and friendship.
Of course this isn’t a gothic story without some tragedy. Mr. Earnshaw dies and all happiness is gone from the home. Heathcliff wants to see Mr. Earnshaw, but Hindley is the master now and will not let Heathcliff. He also kicks Heathcliff out to the stables. Poor Heathcliff is sad and alone and crying. It breaks my heart-poor Heathcliff.
With Hindey as the master, the whole house is plunged into darkness and despair. Hindley and Cathy do well and are dressed well, with Heathcliff becoming Cinderfella, a slave-dressed in rags. Heathcliff listens and obeys, but you can see the rebellion in his eyes-he’s biding his time for one day…
Laurence Oliver is such a handsome man. You can pout him in dirt and rags, but he still is a shining star.
As soon as Hindley leaves each day Heathcliff and Cathy are off to runningin the moors in their special place. Aw, they seem so sweet and happy together. Too bad it won’t last.
Cathy decides to try and “encourage” Heathcliff by insulting his appearance and manhood. She questions why he doesn’t just leave and go somewhere else. And I’m like, girl really? Why do you think he stays here?
Heathcliff is super romantic “I could never part from you”; while Cathy is all “get rich and come take me away.” The two are in two totally different mindsets with Heathcliff all focused on the emotional, and while Cathy is emotional she is also much more practical. The only way she will ever be able to leave Wuthering Heights, her brother, this despair; is through marriage. And the only way she get Hindley’s blessing or survive with nothing from him is if they have money.
Heathcliff begs her to run off with him now, but she declines. You know some people would say she doesn’t really love him or is just using him, but I like that she recognizes a life without privilege as a woman is hard and that is not the life for her. She wants to be with her love, but even more so she also wants to be taken care of. You know there is a big difference between being punished by your brother and sleeping in he stables for a night or two (which she has done) and having to live in stables because you have no money and no connections. Her practicality reminds me a lot of Charlotte in Pride and Prejudice, and her choice of money over love of Mr. Willoughby. Although she is much better than Mr. Willoughby as she made it clear to her partner what she needed and wasn’t running around taking advantage of others. Heathcliff is very Marianne in the way he doesn’t really think about what will happen next, how will they survive?
Heathcliff vows to stay and be treated cruelly if it means they can be together. He gives an oath, but Cathy ignores it as she hears music and goes to their neighbors the Lintons. The two hop a fence to get a closer look, but awaken the guard dogs. They try to hop back over the fence but one of the dogs runs at Cathy’s leg and injures her, Heathcliff being a fights the dogs off with his bare hands. WOW!
The party come out and of course they take Cathy in and treat Heathcliff like dirt, trying to keep him from coming in-but he breaks through to se her. Everyone treats him horrible, and Cathy even tells him to go. Heathcliff is furious about his treatment and vows to leave, but will come back and bring ruin everyone’s head. I know we aren’t supposed to root for him as his quest to of vengeance on all these who have wronged him turns him into a crooked cruel man, but after the way they treated him I follow what he’s tracking.
Anyways, Heathcliff gives his strong amazing poetic vow to bring ruin to them all-and let me tell you Heathcliff has style. He knows how to command a room and do it right. He storms out in a powerful exit.
Cathy recuperates at the Linton home and when she returns she has had a lot of her wild ways “calmed”. Cathy returns surprised to hear that Heathcliff isn’t gone. He tried but he couldn’t be away from her. Cathy cruelly insults him and shares that the Linton house was so much better. Heathcliff sees the divide between them and does not like this, storming out.
Edgar is such a pompous jerk and insults Heathcliff. Cathy does not like it; she is the only one who can demean him. Being back in the house the real her comes out and her wild ways have all come out. She yells and screams at Edgar Linton and kicks him out of the house.
Cathy then runs off to her room crying. She removes the Linton from her (taking off Isabelle Linton’s borrowed dress) and puts her old clothes on, old self, and runs to meet Heathcliff in their special spot. The wealthy items tossed for plain, showing Heathcliff she chooses him-but does she?
The two cling tighter on the hill, but all I can think is not for long, They pick heather, but while the scene is beautiful and romantic, like the flowers you know that this will not last forever.
Poor Edgar is not run off by Cathy’s bad behavior, he tries to win her by sending gifts and begs her to see him. Cathy agrees to have him over and she really enjoys the way she has manipulated him and all I can think is poor Edgar, poor little soul. Heathcliff has heard Edgar is coming over and he’s furious, even more so by the airs she puts on and stating that he has no control over her-he’s just a stable boy.
Cathy continues to break his heart calling him a beggar, dirty, etc He slaps her and leaves running right into Edgar. Oh no, things are going to get bad-but instead of fighting Heathcliff runs out into the rain to the stable. Morose and alone.
Heathcliff hides out in the stable until Edgar leaves. He returns to the house hands bloody from him trying to cute the “dirt and soil and lower class from them”. Nelly hides Heathcliff when Cathy comes down, as Heathcliff doesn’t want her to know how her words cut at his heart. But Cathy shares that Edgar asked her to marry him and that she loves him because he is handsome, rich, and pleasant. Nelly asks about Heathcliff, and Cathy shares she wished Heathcliff never came back. She wants to be free from the cold depressing life at Wuthering Heights and Edgar is the way for her to do it . They actually do Cathy a lot of injustice in this film, making her seem like a gold digger, when Hindley was horrible to live with. Cathy is a awful person, but she is in a horrible life and is trying to get out the only way she knows how.
Heathcliff runs away and Cathy follows trying to find him. Hindley comes home drunk and doesn’t care wanting to drink to celebrate the departure of Heathcliff. Edgar finds Cathy and brings her to his home.
Cathy recuperates at the Linton’s and Edgar does all her can for her. Poor guy, he’s so sweet and such a fool. He thinks that Cathy could actually love him and not just what he could provide for her-what a delusional man and a poor sad man. Cathy vows to be his wife and treat him well and that she will ever kiss another man (lies, all lies!)
The two are married and Catherine has everything she ever wanted: free from Wuthering Heights, among people who do not like confrontation and are always pleasant, the leading lady of the area, money, power, status, …yet she isn’t happy. Something unsettles her. Something cold is coming…
Cathy loved being lady of the manor and living with the Linton’s. Edgar is trying to marry Isabella off, but she finds all the men weak and boring. A kind peaceful night is interrupted when an old lover returns. Heathcliff has returned from America with money. He wants to see Cathy and she refuses knowing that with their love she won’t be able to resist him. Love? Or obsession? Edgar, however, makes her see him. He’s so secure in his love and affections, what a fool.
Heathcliff walks in even more handsome than before, clothes, hair, and style. He gazes upon Cathy with love and desire in his eyes. They ask how he has become so wealthy and he tells them he claimed his “princely fortune,” reminding her of all they used to say in their games. He also drops a bigger emotional bomb; he is the owner of Wuthering Heights. Hindley is a drunken fool that gambled everything away.
Step one of his revenge plot had started. Step two and three is to destroy Edgar and Cathy Linton. Now I feel for Edgar but he is also such a pompous jerk that he makes me want to slap him. He goes on about poor Hindley losing his home, him having his property stolen. It wasn’t stolen from him, he held it in so little esteem that he gambled it away. That’s life, plus Hindley is one if the most horrible people in this book (he’s not as present in the film) so I don’t gel bad. If it was me I would have kicked him out. Heathcliff actually acts with way more class that Edgar has and leaves.
Oh no, Isabella has fallen for Heathcliff and defends him against her brother and sister-in-law. Edgar tries to stop it, but is too late. She can’t resist that bad boy “that just needs love to fix him”. Don’t do it Isabella, don’t do it!
Wuthering Heights is now Heathcliff’s home and he lets Hindley stay, but he has to be in the stables, just like when Heathcliff was a boy. My how have the turntables turned?
Oliver looks so hot in this film, he’s too distracting in his long coat. His intense gaze is so hypnotic I can’t look away. I don’t even know what he is saying; I’m lost in his dreaminess.
The business is interrupted when a lady comes to see him. He thinks it will be Cathy but is disappointed to see Isabella. Isabella came to the house as she was riding in the moors and her “horse went lame” and she “just happened” to be nearby. Poor foolish Isabella. She has this imagined view of who she thinks Heathcliff is, silly girl.
Isabella tries to endear herself to Heathcliff letting him know that she defended him, she cares for him, she can help heal his broken heart. She just lays it all out, shoots her shot. Poor romantic fool. Heathcliff recognizes what is really happening, he did from the beginning, and calls her out. Unfortunately he knows being with Isabella will help his revenge and woos her to get back at Edgar for his treatment and at Cathy for marrying another. Heathcliff don’t you know a path of revenge will only be a sad and troubled road.
The next scene the Linton’s are having a party and Heathcliff waltzes in, being the fine looking man he is. Isabella cheers and is so pleased to see him. Poor foolish girl.
At the party all Heathcliff can do is stare at Cathy and it takes every ounce of willpower for her not to stare back, often breaking as she cannot resist him.
Isabella waltzes with someone and Cathy and Heathcliff sneak away to talk. He tries to get her to admit she cares for him, but she refuses. She insists she loves Edgar and only him, but Cathy is not a good liar-anyone can see that isn’t true. The two have a line here when he tells her he came because she willed him to come from across the sea. Again I never noticed it before but again is very similar to The Great Gatsby. Gatsby thinks the same thing looking at her green light imagining it is a secret sign for the two of them.
Heathcliff: If he loved you with all the power of his soul for a whole lifetime he couldn’t love you as much as I do in a single day. Not he. Not the world. Not even you, Cathy, can come between us.
Cathy: Heathcliff, you must go away. You must leave this house and never come back to it. I never want to see your face again or listen to your voice again as long as I live.
Heathcliff: You lie! Why do you think I’m here tonight? Because you willed it. You willed me here across the sea.
That night Cathy comes to talk to Isabella and Isabella won’t listen. Cathy tries to warn her that Heathcliff doesn’t care and is just using her, but Cathy comes in yelling and screaming and just sounding like a jealous shrew, and she is jealous. Its so obvious to everyone watching, even to Edgar.
Cathy returns home and speaks to Edgar, but they are too late. Isabella has left and eloped with Heathcliff. Edgar is resigned and Cathy is crazed begging him to stop the wedding-killing Heathclff if necessary and for the first tim Edgar sees that he never really knew Cathy and is seeing her for the first time.
Unfortunately, poor Isabella gets no fairy tale ending- just darkness, despair, and decrepitness. Her innocence, lightness, gayess, etc all gone. The doctor tries to get Isabella to go home, letting her know that Cathy is sick and dying. Isabella is glad at that news, shocking the doctor as she thinks with Cathy gone they might have a chance of happiness.
Poor Isabella, she deserved better. She tries so hard to get his love, but gets nothing. He treats her bad because she isn’t Cathy, ignoring her and not treating her like the pretty little doll everyone did. Instead of pushing her away it makes her more clingy and desperate, what Heathcliff can’t stand.
Nelly comes to get Isabella as Cathy is dying and Isabella does not care. But Heathcliff run to his lady love. Cathy is dying and the one place she truly wants to be, with Heathciff.
Heathcliff storms into the house and runs to his lady love who is wasting away. Cathy dies but befoe she goes they kiss (she broke her vow). Heathcliff spurts out in anger releasing all that has fueled him through the years. Angry she choose money over love, she choose Edgar the unpassionate, etc. He throws curses.
We then bounce back to the present as Nelly finishes her story. Mr. Lockwood still doesn’t believe them. The doctor comes to see Hindley and shares he saw Heathcliff out there in the snow with a woman, but when he caught up to them he only found Heathcliff’s body. Yes, Heathcliff and Cathy are finally reunited in death.
So this film was very well written and had an amazing cast. They did cut out a lot of the book and removed the massive amount of cruelty these people inflict on each other to instead focus more on the romance. If you love gothic films and Wuthering Heights, you should definitely give this a watch. If you love gothic films and Wuthering Heights, you should definitely give this a watch.
So that is it for the first post of Horrorfest X. It was quite a challenge as all technology was failing me-it I will persevere. Stay tuned for more!