Category Archives: 1939

The Rules of the Game (1939)


The awful thing about life is this: Everybody has their reasons.

— Octave

Thanks to the fantastic Michael Vox from the Cinebanter podcast for turning me on to They Shoot Pictures, Don’t They? which has a constantly updated list of the 1,000 Greatest Films of All Time. Deviating from the users voted upon list of the greatest films of all time, I wanted to get a real deal Holyfield.

Jean Renoir’s The Rules of the Game comes in a number #3. This is a Criterion collection and the enjoyment was felt throughout this movie.

Much like Robert Altman’s Gosford Park, this films deals with the trials and tribulations  with the upper crust of French society before the start of WWII.

A transatlantic pilot named André Jurieux returns from his trip to find that the love of his life, the Austrian transplant Christine (Nora Gregor) did not meet him. He is heartbroken. His friend, Octave (Jean Renoir) becomes his consular as he is tries to kill himself.

Christine’s husband, Robert de la Cheyniest (Marcel Dalio) knows about André’s intentions toward his wife. He wants to invite him for the weekend at their country estate, La Colinière. Robert also invited his longtime mistress, Geneviève de Marras (Mila Parély). He is trying to break off their relationship.

The subsequent days are filled with hunting for game, unrequited love, and an escape from lives.

It was refreshing take on the comedy of manners genre. The only problem with the movie is the character of André. He is heartbroken. It’s understandable, but he needs to get over it. His character is very one note.

Judgment: It’s a fabulous movie. End of story.

Rating: ****1/2

Wuthering Heights (1939)


If he loved you with all the power of his soul for a whole lifetime, he couldn’t love you as much as I do in a single day.

— Heathcliff

Loosely based on the classic novel by Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights tells the tragic story of Heathcliff and Catherine.

There have been a least a dozen adaptations of this book. Another interpretation of the book will be released next year with Gossip Girl’s Ed Westwick and Gemma Arteton as the lovers. Yipee! Not!

If you have never seen any version of the story or read the book yourself, plot points will be revealed in this review. Be forewarned.

At the beginning of the story, we see a man caught in a snowstorm that takes shelter at the estate of Heathcliff (Laurence Olivier). During the night, he hears the ghostly voice of Catherine (Merle Oberon) in the storm. Upon hearing the news, Heathcliff runs into the storm to find her.

The stranger asked the housekeeper, Ellen (Flora Robson) about the reason why Heathcliff left in a hurry. She recounts the story of how Heathcliff met Catherine. The story flashes back forty years when Catherine’s father brings Heathcliff home from the streets of Liverpool.

After arriving, Catherine’s older brother, Hindley treats him cruely. As they grow up, they fall in love with each other. They go to their secret place in the cliffs of the Yorkshire moors by the Wuthering Heights estate.

Heathcliff despearely wants to leave his life of servitude and wants Catherine to go with him. Their class status gets in the way of their true happiness. Catherine wants to be take care of with the handsome suitor, Edgar (David Niven).

Catherine is such a cold heared bitch that she would toy with Heathcliff’s feelings, stringing him along and breaking his heart by marrying Edgar.

Heathcliff runs away to America, in order to come back wealthy and buying the estate from Hindley (Hugh Williams), who is a sloppy drunk.

The two scourned lovers do everything in their power to torture each other with Catherine’s sham marriage to Edgar and Heathcliff’s subsequent marriage to Edgar’s younger sister, Isabella (Geraldine Fitzgerald).

When Heathcliff finds out that Catherine is dying, he runs to her bedside. Where when they look at the moors from her window, she dies in his arms.

The story is fine. Catherine is such a cold-hearted snake that there was no smyplathy for her when she dies. Understanding Heathcliff’s cold intentions was understandable.

The dialogue bordered on melodrama, especually at the end at Catherine’s death scene. The beginning of the movie with the kids was plain awful.

The only highlights of the film where Olivier and Fitzgerald who were nominated for Oscars for their performances. Well deserved.

Judgment: Read the book instead.

Rating: ***1/2

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