In the 1973 film adaptation of Henrik Ibsen's 1879 play, A Doll's House, directed by Patrick Garland, I believe that Claire Bloom, who plays Nora, transforms herself spectacularly to fit this role. Nora is married to a banker, Torvald (Anthony Hopkins), in this film. He is a very controlling man, and she fits the mold of the "servant" wife perfectly. He acts like her father, and she acts as his subservient daughter. She plays this role excellently. She convincingly fits his mold of how he believes she should look and act. Likewise, I believe that Laurence Olivier does a most convincing job of bringing Heathcliff to life in Wuthering Heights, adapted to film in 1939 by William Wyler from Emily Brontë's 1847 novel.
Nora's life has always revolved around a male figure in her life--first her father, now Torvald. She deceives him because she does not want to be reprimanded by him. The first example of this is evident when he asks if she has eaten a macaroon, and she denies it although she has eaten one. She is constantly called diminutive names by him, such as "squirrel" and "skylark." Torvald believes Nora should be dependent on him and serve his every need. She should be his doll.
Bloom portrays this perfectly; at the beginning of the film, she is very subservient and seems to be scared of Torvald. Later, she shows that she can stand up for herself. Bloom is very dramatic, which she needs to be. I believe she plays all the roles of Nora very believably. Anthony Hopkins also does an excellent performance in this film. His portrayal of Torvald is great, but he seems to play the same role that he does today, a very serious, one-sided character. He is a great actor, yet I feel he plays himself in this film mostly because he has the same demeanor in every role.
Another actor I would like to discuss is Laurence Olivier. I believe in Wuthering Heights, adapted to film in 1939 by William Wyler from Emily Brontë's novel, he does a tremendous job portraying Heathcliff--he really adds a lot to the film and brings Heathcliff to life. In the beginning of the film, he plays a horribly selfish, mean Heathcliff better than anyone I can think of that might be able to take his place. He is deceiving yet very loving at the same time. In the film, he should be hated for everything he does, yet somehow Olivier's charm cannot be resisted. He steals the estate from Hindley (Hugh Williams) and takes pleasure in making others miserable, but Olivier has a presence about him that does not allow one to hate him.
At the end of the film, Olivier plays a very kind Heathcliff because he believes in death he will be reunited with Catherine (Merle Oberon). I am convinced
Laurence Olivier has made his movie great, as Claire Bloom had done in A Doll's House.