†††††††† The 1939 movie Wuthering Heights, directed by William Wyler, and the 1949 movie The Heiress, also directed by William Wyler, are both dramatic love stories filled with passion, betrayal, and devastation. Both films are classics; timeless stories for generations to come. However, these two stories do maintain several differences. From simple music and set design to intense foreshadowing and plot twists, stories about love are never confessed alike.
†††††††† The beginning of Wuthering Heights, based on Emily Brontë's 1847 book, keeps the audience fixed solely on a mad Heathcliff (Rex Downing/Laurence Olivier) for the first several minutes of the film, and although initially engaging, Cathy (Sarita Wooten/Merle Oberon) becomes the only other focus for the first half of the movie, thus slowing down the overall pace. The Heiress, based on Henry James's 1880 Washington Square, immediately starts off with simple scenes involving Catherine (Olivia de Havilland) and her father, Austin Sloper (Ralph Richardson, and quickly introduces Aunt Penniman (Miriam Hopkins), all of their friends at the party, and Morris (Montgomery Clift). From here the characters of The Heiress develop progressively with their words, actions, intentions, and suspicions. Wuthering Heights appears to establish most of the character's related roles and dynamics very early in the film, thus removing some of the inquiry and mystery possessed by The Heiress.
†††††††† Characters and storyline aside for a moment, the film makers of The Heiress maintained very realistic sets, and seemingly used very subtle music, scored by Aaron Copland, and sound effects. Wuthering Heights, on the other hand, used overly elaborate sets with fake rocks and painted backdrops. The film also depended on leitmotifs, created by Alfred Newman, and dramatic sound effects for intense storms and added suspense.
†††††††† Cathy and Catherine were both crazed with a very morbid love, but the way they acted was very different. Cathy was habitually flipping back-and-forth between obsessed love and professed hate. Catherine, however, did an overnight 180. She never doubted herself when she believed she loved Morris and likewise never questioned her hatred for him later on. When both relationships are initially severed, Heathcliff is constantly on-screen sulking and depressed with a bitter demeanor to boot. Morris, however, disappears from the film.
†††††††† I suppose that both women got what they wanted in the end. Cathy, of course, professed her love and died in Heathcliff's arms, which makes most of us happy to see them finally together in the end, even if for just one moment. Catherine rejected Morris. She was destroyed by him and lost all warmth in her heart; but, then again, is not revenge a dish best served cold?