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103 minutes
Like every other screen version of the great Emily Bronte novel, including the ones by Luis Buñuel and Jacques Rivette, this 1939 romantic extravaganza—directed by William Wyler from a script by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur, and shot by the wonderful Gregg Toland—jettisons the framing device offered in the book by Lockwood and Mrs. Dean, two stiffs whose lack of understanding serves as the “open sesame” for the reader's sympathy and imagination. Without this essential element, one gets only standard Hollywood romance, with Laurence Olivier and Merle Oberon chewing up all the available scenery; whatever's left is dished out to David Niven, Donald Crisp, Flora Robson, and Geraldine Fitzgerald.

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