Friday, January 29, 2010

DAF #48 - Melody Time (1948)

Title: Melody Time
Year: 1948
Rated: G
Run Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes 

Plot: A group of eight animated segments set to original modern (for 1948) music.
Based on: Original stories; The Legend of Johnny Appleseed (John Chapman); The poem "Little Toot" by Hardie Gramtaky; The poem "Trees" by Alfred Joyce Kilmer; The American legend of Pecos Bill.
Settings: Winter Wonderland; Mindfuck Bumblebee Land; American Frontier; Eastern Seaboard; The Forest; Three Caballeros Land; Texas.

Tagline: For Your All-Time Good Time!

First Viewing: Spring, 2006 on Netflix.

As we work our way up the ass end of my DAF ranking, we will encounter all 6 package films in a fairly quick succession. Third from the bottom is 1948's Melody Time, a sort of Fantasia-esque feature but with modern (40's) music. This format had already been initiated with 1946's Make Mine Music, (Don't worry, it's coming soon!) but this particular film was a tad less my opinion. Let's take a look at the 8 segments all introduced by a singing mask...

"Once Upon a Wintertime" sung by Frances Langford – Romance. I should like it then, right? No. I don't give a shit about Joe and Jenny (yes, those are their official names according to my Encyclopedia of Walt Disney's Animated Characters book). They ride in a one horse (I mean, two horse) open sleigh and go ice skating and a pair of romantically linked rabbits mimic them. Jenny and She-Rabbit get pissed at their respective partners and then huffily rush onto a piece of thin ice. It's up to the menfolk to save them, and save them they do.

"Bumble Boogie" – A lone bumblebee flies erratically through a strange colorful world of flowers, musical instruments, and musical symbols and notes.

"The Legend of Johnny Appleseed" told and sung by Dennis Day – John Chapman, a young apple grower wants to go west but fears he is too weak for the pioneer life. "Johnny's Angel" appears and sends him off with confidence to plant apple trees around the Ohio River region for 40 years, until he is called up to heaven.

"Little Toot" sung by The Andrews Sisters –  A mischievous young tugboat shame his father and then returns to save the day.

"Trees" sung by Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians – An animated ode to the poem "Trees" by Alfred Joyce Kilmer.

"Blame It On the Samba" performed by Ethel Smith and the Dinning Sisters – To all of you out there who have seen Saludos Amigos or The Three Caballeros, you will be delighted to see Jose Carioca and Donald Duck chase after Latin American ass once again. Sigh. An obvious leftover from one those movies. Were they really that likable a pair?

"Pecos Bill" told by Roy Rogers and the Sons of the Pioneers – For some unknown reason, Bobby Driscoll and Luana Patten (from So Dear to My Heart and Song of the South) are chilling in the middle of Texas with Roy Rogers and the Sons of the Pioneers. Young Bobby asks why coyotes howl at the moon. Roy and his buddies then tell the tall tale of the rise and fall of American legend, Pecos Bill, his noble steed Widowmaker, and his lady fair, Sluefoot Sue.

Pecos Bill is my favorite by default. Mainly, this is because I love how much Widowmaker hates his friend being stolen away by that hussy Sluefoot Sue. ("He never wants to play since his bitch moved in.")  It's his fault that she ended up on the moon. And the very sinister side of me is happy that Widowmaker succeeds. I suppose its sort of tragic that Pecos spends the rest of his life howling at the moon, but then again, I don't really give a shit about anyone in this movie.

Melody Time has a bit of controversy surrounding it. The movie was first released on video in 1998 (and then got another release in 2000 for the why-the-fuck-not Gold Collection). The bigwigs at Disney feared Pecos Bill's near constant cigarette would make the kiddies want to take a trip to Marlboro country just like their favorite package film hero. So the fag was digitally removed along with a verse in the song "Pecos Bill" that apparently deals with tobacco.

Is it a big loss? Eh...I don't know. It seems like SOOOOO much work especially when nothing is done to remove Jose Carioca's ever present cigar in Saludos Amigos, The Three Caballeros, and even our very own Melody Time. Is parrot tobacco use acceptable or something?

Like with The Three Caballeros, I do not hate this film. In fact, the only one I legitimately HATE is Lilo & Stitch. I pretty much feel impartial to Melody Time. None of the segments really shout out to me and even my favorite little moments don't really make an impression. This is a pretty bland, forgettable movie but if you want to truly consider yourself a Disney-phile, at least one viewing is necessary.

“Melody Time" - Buddy Clark
"Once Upon a Wintertime" - Frances Langford
"Bumble Boogie" - Freddy Martin and His Orchestra featuring Jack Fina
"Oh the Lord is Good to Me" - Dennis Day
"A Lot of Work to Do" - Dennis Day
"Square Dance" - Dennis Day
"Little Toot" - The Andrews Sisters
"Trees" - Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians
"Blame it on the Samba" - Ethel Smith and the Dinning Sisters
"Blue Shadows on the Trail" - Roy Rogers and the Sons of Pioneers
"Pecos Bill" - Roy Rogers and the Sons of Pioneers

Favorite Song - "Pecos Bill" - Roy Rogers and the Sons of the Pioneers
Favorite Moment - "Pecos Bill"

Favorite Character - Widowmaker

Next Film - Oliver & Company (1988)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Videography: Britney Spears (Part II - Oops...I Did it Again!)

After the release of her second album, Britney Spears was a full on international superstar. There wasn't an impressionable girl, lusting boy or concerned parent alive that didn't know her name. In many ways, the Oops!...I Did it Again era videos are more "mature" than the Baby One More Time videos. I only say this because it seems there are actual plots instead of "Britney dances with dancers surrounding her." Also, sexuality seems to be winning in the virgin vs. whore debate. All of these videos (besides the Pepsi commercials and "Lucky") show a sultry, in charge woman. The pressure of life in the public eye was definitely effecting her at this point, but Britney smiled and pushed through, shimmying and gyrating all the way to the bank with "Lucky" being our only hint into her inside turmoil.

Order: 6
Title: "Oops!...I Did it Again"
Album: Oops!...I Did It Again (2000)
Song Premise: A girl is unashamed of her flirtatious ways and blames her admirer for being easily enchanted.
Video Premise: Upon entering the Mars orbit (?) an astronaut finds a rock with Britney's picture from the Oops! album cover that somehow beckons her in a red vinyl jumpsuit. As the lyrics indicate, Britney plays with his heart while the crew on Earth watches in amusement. At one point, the smitten spaceman offers Britney the jewel from the end of Titanic.

Comments: This video is so stupid. It really makes no sense at all, but somehow managed to become iconic. Way back when, in the olden days, the Disney Channel used to air music videos and this is one that was played to death. I saw it so many times that I quasi knew the choreography which I performed for a bunch of Irish kids while I was visiting Ireland in the spring of 2001. They even asked if I knew Britney Spears. They were upset when I told them I was from Washington.

Order: 7
Title: "The Joy of Pepsi"
Album: ...Just a commercial.
Song Premise: Britney sings about how she enjoys Pepsi.
Video Premise: Britney is in a warehouse in coveralls which she promptly rips off and begins dancing with other workers.

Comments: it's a commercial, not technically a video. But look at it: Peppy song? Check. Choreography? Check. Britney's navel? Check. The advertisers knew the quickest way to have Britney sell Pepsi would be to put her in her most comfortable and recognizable environment.

Order: 8
Title: "Lucky"
Album: Oops!...I Did It Again (2000)
Song Premise: The story of Lucky, a Hollywood actress disenchanted with her lonely life.
Video Premise: Britney appears in front of a curtain and announces that "This is a story about a girl named Lucky." We see the day to day life of a 40's movie star, Lucky, as she awakens and is given a huge bouquet of flowers by her butler. Britney is apparently some kind of guardian angel who witnesses Lucky's dissatisfaction and wants her to realize it. Suddenly, a gorgeous hunk storms in and dips Lucky. It turns out the whole thing is a movie, and Lucky is a modern day movie star (and kind of a bitch). Fast forward a couple of months and Lucky wins an Oscar and is surrounded by her adoring fans. She gets into a limo and sees Britney trying to reach her. Finally, Lucky cries herself to sleep.

Comments: As you know from my Top 30 Britney Spears Songs blog, "Lucky" is my favorite song of hers. And it's also my favorite video. For one, I'm ecstatic they took the story in the song and used that as a basis for the video. Then I love that it has a "movie within a movie" quality to it. I plan to write a whole blog on this video, so I'll keep this commentary short so I'm not so goddamn redundant. Anyway, it's just so ironic and thinly veiled! "Let's make her an actress instead of a popstar!"

Order: 9
Title: "The Pepsi Generation"
Album: ...Just a commercial.
Song Premise: Britney says young people like Pepsi!
Video Premise: 1958: Britney drinks Pepsi in a malt shop. 1963: On an American Bandstand type show, Britney sings in a girl group. 1966: Britney surfs and sings at the beach. 1970: Hippie Britney sings with other hippies. 1989: Britney sings "Simply Irresistible" in an "Addicted to Love" type video. Finally, all era Britneys are shown doing the "Joy of Pepsi" dance.

Comments: This is fun and I enjoyed the hell out of it. Of course, I love eras. My only complaint is, why no mid 70's? Disco! Not difficult.

Order: 10
Title: "Stronger"
Album: Oops!...I Did It Again (2000)
Song Premise:  A woman finally recovers from a nasty break up.
Video Premise: Britney is rejected by a guy in a club and takes her revenge by dancing alone elsewhere with a magical chair. She also drives a car angrily in the rain, dances with a cane and strides confidently across a bridge.

Comments: I think this is the most pissed we've seen Britney to date. But for a "I-don't- need-you-anymore-you-cheating-bastard" song, I think it fits rather well. Also chair dancing is extremely impressive and I am in awe whenever I see it.

Order: 11
Title: "Don't Let Me Be the Last to Know"
Album: Oops!...I Did It Again (2000)
Song Premise: A girl begs her boyfriend to tell her he loves her since he’s seemed to have told everyone else.
Video Premise: Britney and a ripped hunk frolic on a tropical island and make out and climb trees.

Comments: A sexy song deserves a sexy video. And boy howdy do we get one! Okay, I love this song and this video. They don't really go together. The song is about insecurity, while the video is basically a 2000's version of The Blue Lagoon. I like it because it's more seductive and sultry than nasty and dirty...which is rather ironic knowing what's coming in the future. Maybe Britney wanted to do a sexy video but her handlers demanded it be sensual instead. I don't know. It was banned from the Disney Channel, none the less. It's interesting to watch the development of Britney's videos. It's definitely been a gradual process. Knowing the future makes me sad that videos of this nature are never seen again. P.S. I wish I looked that good in jean shorts.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Wuthering Heights (1978)

Year: 1978
Run Time: 5 hours (Yeah, that's right...5 HOURS)

First Viewing - December, 2009 from a Region 2 DVD transferred onto an iPod. (Thanks, Andrew!) 

Adaptation Accuracy/Dialogue - I'll level with you right at the beginning. This review will be rather incomplete. I have only seen this version once. At five hours, it is a difficult piece of work to get through. That, and I bought it on a Region 2 DVD so my friend Andrew converted it on his computer and then lost it so I couldn't rewatch it before writing this blog. So, I'm sorry. five hours, how can you have any inaccuracy? Oh, they found ways. Mainly, (like always) it's character flaws. Dialogue is very accurate, in fact, most of the time it's word for freakin' word...which is rather impressive. There's even a very close attention to minute details that only true fans of the novel would young Cathy losing her shoe in a bog. Who cares? Not even me. Certainly, I would have appreciated such authenticity if the same care had been taken into the characters and acting, but alas, I am disappointed.

The whole first episode accurately portrays Heathcliff and Cathy as children when they first spy on the Lintons. In all other versions, they are teenagers by this point. In fact, it's right before the famous "I am Heathcliff" scene that the characters are shown as "teenagers". It's kind of unsettling to see Heathcliff jump from 10 to 30.

Also, it's boring. Painfully, hair rippingly, sleep inducingly boring. Even for me, who loves this story passionately, it's boring. I can't imagine what it would be like for someone who feels lukewarm towards Wuthering Heights. I would have liked to see it again to see if my initial opinion changed. And since I've seen all the other versions at least 3 times each, I'm just not as familiar with it. Thus, my review will be very sparse.

Heathcliff - (Ken Hutchison, age 30) As I recall Hutchison's Heathcliff was too old and too grumpy, even when he was a lover. There was no refinement when he was supposed to be a gentleman and no depth behind his evil plans. He is also too old and really looks too old.

Cathy Earnshaw - (Kay Adshead, age 24) Even as one of the youngest actresses to play Catherine Earnshaw, Kay Adshead seems to match Hutchison's older Heathcliff. She looks older than she is and presents Cathy as a woman instead of a immature teenage girl.

Edgar Linton - (David Robb, age 31) Um...yeah, I don't remember. Which just furthers my point of the characters being unmemorable. Though I'm glad to see him as a true blonde.

Isabella Linton - (Caroline Langrishe, age 20) This is the youngest actress to ever play Isabella in any English speaking version of Wuthering Heights. I remember liking her, but I can't tell you why. Sometimes youth and inexperience can add more to a performance than years of training.

Hindley Earnshaw - (John Duttine, age 29) I remember nothing.

Frances Earnshaw - (Maggie Wilkinson, age unknown) Ditto.
Nelly Dean - (Pat Heywood, age 51) Sigh. You would think that in the most accurate version of Wuthering Heights, that they would get this right! But no, here we have one of the oldest Nellys. I know I've said this before, but I hate how Nelly is pushed into "nursemaid" for Cathy (the second generation, I don't care that much), but damn it, why in the first generation? The most ironic thing is Nelly is played by Pat Heywood who you may recognize as, I kid you not, the nurse in Zefferelli's Romeo & Juliet.

The only difference is costuming.

Hareton Earnshaw - (David Wilkinson, age 23) Um, don't remember, yet again. But it's promising that he is actually the same age as the his oldest...but it's still an improvement.
Catherine Linton - (Cathryn Harrison, age 19) I recall her being a bit too bitchy. I know Catherine is supposed to be cold to Lockwood and to Hareton, but she was just too cold, as I rememeber.

Linton Heathcliff - (Andrew Burleigh, age unknown) Um...whiny?

Joseph -(Brian Wilde) Meh.

Lockwood -(Richard Kay) Lockwood is in this one a lot, but mostly as a plot device. He's only there because the book requires him to be. I do like that they portray his interest in Catherine, though.

Costumes/Character Appearances -Again, we have clothing from the 1700's and again they are simple due to the overall production quality. But like I've said before, the simple costumes fit the inhabitants at the Heights, but the Grangers should be more fancy. Other than Heathcliff, Cathy, and Nelly, I don't mind the appearances of the actors. I'm a fan of Isabella and Catherine's youth.

Sets/Filming Locations - Like the 1967 version, this is a TV production and the sets are small and cramped. So are the shots. However, there is accuracy with the grotesque nude little boys on the front of the house.

Music -Um, obviously not memorable.

Overall Likes - Minute attention to detail; Dual generations; Isabella and Catherine's youth; "I am Heathcliff" scene very complete; Lockwood's interest in Catherine.

Overall Dislikes - The "seventy-times seven" scene; Lack of characterization; Actors too old; S-L-O-W; Nelly...grrr; Unsympathetic Catherine (as I recall).

Final Thoughts - Someday, I will rewatch this version and write a better, more complete blog. I truly apologize, but I'm a completist so I needed to post this right after the 1970 version. Overall, I think my biggest issue with this miniseries is that it spent too much time with Heathcliff and Cathy as children. I know it's accurate, but I've taught myself to not attach myself to the characters as kids since they will soon morph into adults. But there was so much time spent on them in this version that I hadn't attached myself to the new Heathcliff and Cathy by the time my favorite scene came around.

Ugh...anyway, I can't recommend this adaptation to anyone unless they really love the book. And even then, I'm warning you it kind of sucks. Since this review also kind of sucks, here's a link to a Youtube video of the "I am Heathcliff" scene, the most complete ever.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Top 5 Simpsons Episodes of Season 3

Season 3 is when it starts to get good. Many Simpsons fans consider this season to be the best. I’m not one of them. I think the show continues to mature in later seasons. Wouldn’t that be kind of depressing if Season 3 was the end all and be all? Don’t get me wrong, I love these episodes. I spent my childhood watching these in syndication ad nauseum. I’m still not sick of ‘em. So, here is the long awaited list of my Top 5 Simpsons Episodes of Season 3.

Rank: 5
Episode: Radio Bart (3-13)
Synopsis: Bart uses a microphone to trick Springfield into thinking a little boy fell down a well, and then later falls down it himself.

Comments: So, Bart is kind of a little shit. If I ever reproduce, I pray that I'm not bestowed with a child like him. Of course, that would be just my luck. And hopefully years of watching The Simpsons would equip me for such an atrocity. Anyway, this is one of my favorite Bart episodes because it shows several sides of his personality, such as being a little shit...and being proud of it. I love when he's trapped in the well and he mourns never being able to "smoke a cigarette or shave a dirty word in his hair." So Bart isn't Timmy O'Toole and thank God because I wouldn't like him and I don't think America would have liked him either. Plus the plot is ironic and irony is always good.

Quote: "I called my good friend Sting. He said, "Krusty, when do you need me?" I said, "Thursday." He said, "I'm busy Thursday." I said, "What about Friday?" He said, "Friday's worse than Thursday. Then he said, "How about Saturday?" I said, "Fine." True story!" - Krusty the Klown.
Rank: 4
Episode: Homer Alone (3-15)
Synopsis: Marge goes a on a mini vacation alone, leaving Homer with Maggie and Bart and Lisa with Patty and Selma.

Comments: I like this episode for the same reasons The Empire Strikes Back and The Two Towers are my favorite movies of their respective trilogies: I like that the story is split into three mini stories. First we have Marge who is exhausted from her life as a housewife and she takes solo vacation. All of her scenes are of relaxing, drinking tequila, and watching Thelma & Louise. Homer is home alone with Maggie and struggles to take care of her. She even escapes looking for her mother. And finally, Bart and Lisa are trapped at Patty and Selma's and you know how I love anything Patty and Selma. This isn't an episode that will go on the inevitable, definitive Top 100 lists that will pop up all over the internet whenever the show is canceled. "Marge vs. the Monorail" it is not. But it's one of my favorites.

Quote: Bart: "I'm scared, Lisa."
Lisa: "You think you know fear? Well, I've seen 'em naked!"
Bart: "Waaaauuuuuugh!"

Rank: 3
Episode: Black Widower (3-21)
Synopsis: A seemingly redeemed Sideshow Bob gets out of jail and proposes to Selma, although Bart is still suspicious.

Comments: My reasons for putting this one at number 3, are the same for putting "Krusty Gets Busted" on my Top 5 Episodes of Season 1. They're both good mysteries. Sideshow Bob is awesome. And it's always cool when a ten year old boy can foil an "evil genius". (I put evil genius in quotation marks because Sideshow Bob has never successfully executed one of his diabolical least in the 10 episodes he's been featured in). That, and I love Selma's desperation to get married and procreate. (I miss those days, although I'm glad she has Ling now.

Quote: "Tonight on MacGyver...MacGyver...MACGYVER." - T.V. Announcer.

Rank: 2
Episode: Bart the Lover (3-16)
Synopsis: To get back at Mrs. Krabappel, Bart answers her personal ad with a fictitious lover.

Comments: Again, here's Bart being a little shit. This time he's playing with the emotions of a fragile, lonely divorcee because she, took his yoyo and gives him a month of detention. Anyway, this episode is a little pedophiliac...and depressing. But I like Mrs. Krapabbel and knowing her future relationship with Skinner makes it a little more okay. It does get better for her. Bart's letters to her are very good for a fourth grader. P.S. I love the swear jar B story.

Quote: "Maybe it's the beer talking Marge but you got a butt that won't quit. They got those big chewy pretzels here merJanthfgrr five dollars??!!!? Get outta here..." - Homer's postcard to Marge.

Rank: 1
Episode: Colonel Homer (3-20)
Synopsis: After a fight with Marge, Homer meets a beautiful aspiring country singer who sets her sights on him.

Comments: What is it with me and the romance episodes? I'm a little ashamed. (In future posts, it only gets worse). Part of the entertainment comes from Homer's total ignorance/denial of sexy Lurleen's interest in him. As far as the ladies go, Homer is no prize pig so of course he would remain oblivious. Marge probably assumes that no other woman would ever want him since he is But when another woman comes along, Marge is ill-prepared to deal with competition.  She fails to make Homer realize the danger of the situation and also threatens Lurleen by pettily introducing herself as "Mrs. Homer Simpson." Of course, Marge wins in the end and Homer relinquishes his title as Lurleen's manager. One of the sexiest scenes of the series occurs when Homer slowly undresses as Lurleen sings "Stand By Your Manager."  Also, I love the music. Sorry to take the suspense out of a future post, but "Bunk With Me Tonight" is my favorite original Simpsons song. But you'll have to wait for said post to read why.

Quote: Marge: "All our money's tied up in the woman. If she fails, we're broke. If she succeeds, I have no husband. I don't know what to root for."
Patty: "You don't?"

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Wuthering Heights (1970)

Year: 1970
Rated: G in the United States, A/PG in the UK.
Run Time: 1 hour, 45 minutes

Tagline - The power, the passion, the terror of Emily Bronte's unforgettable love story.

First Viewing - December, 2007 on DVD.

Adaptation Accuracy/Dialogue - Following in the footsteps of WH ' 39, 1970's version only tells of the first generation but it does so in a rather strange way. Whereas most versions whisk over Hindley Earnshaw's downward spiral, or make it a secondary plot point, this adaptation treats it almost as equally as the main love story while underplaying the characters of Edgar and Isabella Linton.

From the beginning, the movie takes a more sympathetic look at Hindley. For some reason never explained, (in the book as well as this movie) his father detests him and thinks he's not nearly as good as Heathcliff. This hatred is somewhat unmerited when Hindey's tutor tells Mr. Earnshaw that his son would benefit from going to college since he is (apparently) a very good student. Earnshaw sends him off, mostly to get him out of his hair.

After this, the plot pretty much goes along normally with Hindley returning with Frances and then becoming a drunken wastrel after her death. Heathcliff buys the Heights and feeds Hindley's addiction while wooing Isabella and torturing Cathy. Controversially, (at least to me), Hindley actually succeeds in his revenge plan by shooting Heathcliff shortly after his sister's death. Heathcliff chases her ghost and finally dies. His spirit is then shown running off with Cathy. Then the credits roll, so we can assume that Hindley remains the owner of Wuthering Heights and Heathcliff's revenge plan is foiled.

As far as framing goes, WH '70 begins at Cathy's funeral where Heathcliff observes from a distance. It then cuts back a few years with Nelly's narration and forgoes Lockwood. There is some character accuracies/inaccuracies that I'll go into further below. The dialogue is semi-faithful...probably C level. Most notably, the "I am Heathcliff" scene is very underplayed and treated like any other scene.

Heathcliff - (Timothy Dalton, age 26) Out of all the Heathcliffs I've seen, Timothy Dalton is probably the youngest looking. He is one of the youngest actors to play him as well. Although it shouldn't be that big of a factor, physical embodiment of the character is at least half the role. (I mean, you wouldn't cast Tobey Maguire as Heathcliff, even if he could personify all of the right looks and actions and vocal inflections, would you now?) Where most Heathcliffs thrive after they've traded in their stable boy rags for velvet overcoats, Dalton is best as an unrefined heathen. Age again? I don't know. You can see for yourself that although Dalton is young, he is not baby faced and would be considered "ruggedly handsome." Amazingly, Timothy Dalton has also played Mr. Rochester from Jane Eyre, Rhett Butler in Gone With the Wind's sequel Scarlett and 007 himself, James Bond so you would think he would be able to channel the snarky sophistication gentleman Heathcliff is known for.

Cathy Earnshaw - (Anna Calder-Marshall, age 23) Like Angela Scoular in WH '67, Anna Calder-Marshall portrays Cathy as young and immature, but with less motivation or thought. Plus, she has a weird way of pronouncing things and a high pitched voice. Like Dalton, Calder-Marshall has the right kind of youthful look often absent from Wuthering Heights adaptations but still looks like a woman in her 20's vs. a girl in her teens. This Cathy is irritating, possibly the most irritating due to her weird character choices.

Edgar Linton - (Ian Ogilvy, age 27) How is it that Edgar keeps getting the shaft? He is one of the most important characters in WH, and one of the few that survives both generations. But again, here he is as a plot device rather than an active character with feelings. Still, I enjoy some of his scenes such as the one right after Heathcliff leaves and when he brings Cathy flowers while she is ill. Then again Ogilvy isn't really into his role, it appears, but look what he has to work with!

Isabella Linton - (Hilary Heath Dwyer, age 25) This is the least sympathetic Isabella ever. I must say, that's certainly a change. Usually Heathcliff is shown entirely to blame for "seducing" Isabella into a seemingly romantic marriage. But Isabella is shown not as a lonely sheltered princess, but as a whiny spoiled brat. Since I have no sympathy for her, I almost look forward to Heathcliff's abuse of her.

Hindley Earnshaw - (Julian Glover, age 35) In the only version of Wuthering Heights to mildly concentrate on Hindley, you would hope that his characterization would be more in depth than previous versions. I'm sorry to disappoint you, but it's nothing special. Yes, there is more of him, but he really doesn't develop any. From his drunken stupor, we don't see him realize the error of his ways, rise from the ashes and calculate on killing Heathcliff. He just does it. It's like a weird alternate world where the story ends suddenly. A "what if" version, if you will. So what if Hindley killed Heathcliff? Does he remain owner of the Heights or does he lose ownership to someone else because of his alcoholism?

Frances Earnshaw - (Morag Hood, age 28) There's definitely more Frances in this one. We actually have a scene after Hareton's birth. Usually they jump straight to Hindley drowning his sorrows with a motherless baby crying the background. Frances is shown sympathetically and likable, as she should be, but there isn't much of a window into her character.

Nelly Dean - (Judy Cornwall, age 30) Nelly is my favorite part of this whole movie. Finally, she is shown as young and as involved in the story. Some readers (such as yours truly) have romantically linked Nelly to Hindley. That is inescapable in this version. Although never referred to through dialogue, it's done through looks and expression (and Cathy excitedly and knowingly announcing Hindley's return to Nelly). Nelly narrates that she is the only one who misses him when he leaves for college. When he returns from school, she is nervous about seeing him and wants to look her best. Of course, her romantic dreams are smashed when Frances is revealed. Insult is added to injury when she, along with Joseph and Heathcliff are sent to live above the stables. And then Nelly has to take care of Hareton after Frances dies. The scene between the two of them is touching. After Nelly moves to the Grange with Cathy, her romantic feelings for Hindley are never touched upon again and sadly, her character's importance is also diminished. One has to wonder what happens in this version with Hindley still alive...

Joseph - (Aubrey Woods) Joseph is Joseph.

Costumes/Character Appearances -Again, 1780's costumes are used, but they are not terribly fancy and seem to have 70's fabric. Everyone looks fairly fitting to their character with Hindley being the only one I think is too old physically and he should have dark brown hair like Cathy.

Sets/Filming Locations - As good as to be expected.

Music - This is a Golden Globe nominated score, a first and only for Wuthering Heights adaptations. And yes, it is good, in a 70's kind of way. I actually own it on record. The main theme is hauntingly and good for Wuthering Heights, however the other motifs are weak.

Overall Likes - Nelly's youth; Nelly's unrequited love for Hindley; Heathcliff and Cathy's appearances; The music; Mrs. Earnshaw's suspicion of Heathcliff being her husband's bastard; The scene with the mud; "I'll give him something you have not known!"; Heathcliff chasing Cathy's ghost.

Overall Dislikes - Cathy's whiny voice; Edgar and Isabella too different; Hindley attacking the random maid; Too many servants (yeah, I know it's accurate); The "I am Heathcliff" scene outside; Heathcliff and Cathy making out with a branch; Heathcliff requesting a tumble from Isabella; Heathcliff running around with the fire poker; Hindley killing Heathcliff.

Final Thoughts - Like I said, Nelly is my favorite part of this version. If she had been portrayed as an older woman like in all the other versions, it would probably be my least favorite. It has good parts, but not many. With the single generation adaptations, I can't help but wonder why they don't spend more time on Hindley, Frances, Edgar, Isabella, and Nelly. Focusing on Heathcliff and Cathy is a problem with all versions, but at least the ones with the second generation have a time crunch excuse.

There is a particular scene where Cathy and Heathcliff's affair turns from just emotional to physical. The two make out in a wooded area for a good three minutes until they are interrupted by Isabella. I don't really care for it when sex is brought into the story. Cathy's a bitch but I don't think she actually commit adultery. Also the forced romance of the scene is laughable.

It did get me thinking about "what if" versions of Wuthering Heights though. What if Isabella refused to marry Heathcliff? What if Heathcliff didn't leave after hearing it would degrade Cathy to marry him? What if Cathy and Edgar weren't married when Heathcliff returned? What if Hindley didn't turn to booze and raised his son properly? What if Mr. Earnshaw treated all his children equally? Theories are springing up in my mind, but then the story simply would not be Wuthering Heights.

P.S. WH '70 has the best movie posters...