Monday, June 4, 2012

Double Feature: Love Affair (1939) and Wuthering Heights (1939)

Love Affair:

Better known as 1957's remake An Affair to Remember, this heartbreaking melodrama features Irene Dunne and Charles Boyer as lovers who meet on a cruise and agree to meet again, only to have their meeting spoiled. The love story is no epic (88 minutes), but it doesn't have to be. This is an underseen classic romance with great performances. While it is not one of 1939's best films, it is no wonder that this received a Best Picture nomination in a year of ten nominees.

The film received nominations for Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress (M. Ouspenskaya), Best Writing (Story), Best Art Direction, and Best Original Song. Though it did not win anything, the Best Picture nomination was arguably consolation enough, given that better films like Only Angels Have Wings, Gunga Din, The Roaring Twenties, and The Hunchback of Notre Dame were not nominated for Best Picture.

Wuthering Heights:

This classic from 1939 is a wonderful adaptation of Emily Bronte's famous literary work. Laurence Olivier and Merle Oberon are magnificent as Heathcliff the poor stable boy and Cathy - his wealthy adopted sister. With a love story that has endured many cinematic versions, the film rivals the sweeping romance of Scarlett and Rhett in Gone with the Wind. William Wyler's film is one of the very best that 1939 has to offer, and it very much deserved its Best Picture nomination.

The film received nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress (G. Fitzgerald), Best Writing (Screenplay), Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography (B&W), and Best Original Score. It did not win Best Picture, but it did win cinematographer Gregg Toland (Citizen Kane) his only Oscar.

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