Emily Brontë's 1847 Wuthering Heights is a classic book, with all of its unforgettable characters and complicated story line. Because Wuthering Heights is such a well-known and beloved book, one would think making it into a good movie would be easy because so many people already know and love the story. However, William Wyler's 1939 version of the movie is barely recognizable as being based on the book because the plots of the book and the movie are so drastically different.
The book has more depth than the movie. The movie leaves out Cathy's pregnancy and therefore her daughter, Heathcliff and Isabella's children, and Hindley's wife and children. These elements bring depth and complications to the book that the movie is lacking. The movie is much simpler and therefore not as intriguing as the book. Because all those people are left out, the interactions and relationships between them and the remaining characters are also missing. Without these interactions and relationships, Heathcliff (Rex Downing/Laurence Olivier) and Cathy's (Sarita Wooten/Merle Oberon) relationship does not seem nearly as complex as it is in the book.
The movie also seems to be lacking completion. The ending of the movie is tragically sad and unresolved. The ending of the book is more complete because the story comes full circle through the children. Although it is sad that Cathy dies and she and Heathcliff could never marry or have a happy life together, Cathy's daughter does find love and, one hopes, goes on to live a happy life. The movie is much sadder because it does not include that story.
Overall, the book is a classic; while the movie is good, it leaves out and changes so much of the plot that the movie just does not compare to the book.