Wuthering Heights


Back in the early 1960s I was the sleepy blond surfer with the denim Converse and the sea-salty epidural itch. I was an inadvertent undercover scholar who passed for being bored in class because I was bored in class. When the teacher asked a question I often allowed the tense quiet to build before I almost imperceptibly raised my arm and grunted the correct answer.

My favorite class was English and in my senior year I happily read lots of books, drawled out correct answers, aced all the quizzes and tests, all while affecting a bad boy attitude toward school and learning.

As an undercover scholar I tended to out perform the class requirements and surreptitiously turn in beaucoup d’extra credit. One example was when the arthouse movie theater downtown was playing Wuthering Heights with Olivier and Oberon. It was a good deal—book credit for watching a movie—so I asked a fun, friendly female from the class to accompany me and we thoroughly enjoyed the movie experience. We went to a drive-in theater the next week and enjoyed that too.

Some time later I read the book by Emily Brontë and realized that the early romantic parts of the text which were emphasized in the film were easily my favorite. The later half of the book was dark and tedious, making Heathcliff into more of a villain than a romantic hero.

I think I watched the William Wyler film a second time in the last fifty years but I see that it is featured on the Criterion Channel so I intend to curl-up with a hot mug of tea and watch one of the great love stories of all time. I might also take a few minutes to remember all the plans and dreams I had back in the sixties when the mush I called my brains was just beginning to jell.

Ah … Merle Oberon.

By the way: if you tend toward more classic movies, I highly recommend a subscription to The Criterion Channel.

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