(Review originally written at 29 September 2008)

This movie was quite different from what I was expecting. It's quite an unique combination of love, drama and a ghost story. It may sound real odd and ridicules but it's a movie that works out surprisingly well and is truly powerful and effective.

Director William Wyler was of course really at ease within this genre and he directed some powerful drama's in mostly the '30's, like this movie. He always knew to create some 'real' emotions with 'real' characters, without ever really going over-the-top with it, unlike often was the case with the genre movies from the same time period.

Laurence Olivier was a pretty unique and special actor. He is one of the very few actors who actually was successful throughout his entire career. Seriously, which other actor can say that he starred in some classic successful movies in the '30's, '40's, 50's, '60's and '70's? He really is one of my favorite actors of all time. He was so successful throughout his entire career because he was willing to adapt his acting style as movie-making and acting changed throughout the years. Most of the other actors from the same time period simply didn't even bother to try and went in to early retirement. 
If you compare the roles he played in the '30's to his roles from the '70's you'll notice a quite big difference in style and approach. He was also an actor who simply accepted his age and didn't pretended to be younger than he was as years went by and big main roles became scares for an actor of his age. Olivier also received his first ever Oscar nomination for his role in this. 9 nominations would later follow (including some directing nominations) and he also received an acting award in 1949 for his role in his directed "Hamlet" movie, an honorary Oscar in 1979 and also already in 1947, for his outstanding achievement as actor, producer and director in bringing 'Henry V' to the screen. He's a true movie legend, with an impressive and successful career that span over many decades.

The rest of the movie its cast is also real solid, with also some great supporting actors in it, such as David Niven (without his small mustache!), Donald Crisp and Geraldine Fitzgerald. It's too bad that Merle Oberon never really ever broke through, for she was a real fine actress, playing opposite Laurence Olivier in this movie.

The movie has some great dialog. Yes, it's old fashioned and yes some lines obviously come straight out of the novel by Emily Brontë but it suits the movie so well. It makes this a real typical early British costume drama, produced and shot in America and with also for some part American actors in it.

But it needs to be said that the movie doesn't always progresses logically. The pace and time-line doesn't always feel right and the movie its story really feels like it got based on several different chapters of a book being thrown together into one movie, which of course also was the case. Not all of the sequences within the movie really connect well together.

Otherwise the story of this movie is really solid. It's a great romantic love-story that of course however features more drama than any romance. It's a tough love-story of a 'forbidden' love and persons trying to make life as tough and painful as possible for each other. The movie is filled with some fine solid characters as well as some real powerful and memorable sequences.

Funny thing about this movie is that it completely looks as if was shot in the United-Kingdom however in fact it got completely shot in America. The movie has a real great look and atmosphere over it, of course also with some fine looking sets and costumes as you would expect from a period piece such as this movie.

A movie like only could be made in the 1930's!


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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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