Heathcliff: What do they know of Heaven or Hell, Cathy, who know nothing of life? Oh, they’re paying for you, Cathy. I’ll pray one prayer with them. I’ll repeat until my tongue stiffens. Catherine Earnshaw, may you not rest so long as I live on! I killed you. Haunt me, then! Haunt your murderer! I know that ghosts have wandered on the Earth. Be with me always. Take any form, drive me mad, only do not leave me in this dark alone where I cannot find you. I cannot live without my life! I cannot die without my soul.
I really love this film. I have watched it many times. It’s one that gets richer each time you watch it. Often, you hear it dismissed, or at least introduced, as Bette Davis’s Gone With The Wind, but it is definitely more than just a consolation prize. This film represents a turning point in Davis’s career and it was after her phenomenal turn in this film that she became the superstar we now know and love. The film was nominated for five Academy Award, won two: Best Cinematography, Best Score, Best Supporting Actress Fay Bainter (won), Best Actress Bette Davis (won), Best Picture. The other films nominated for Best Picture that year were The Adventures of Robin Hood, Alexander’s Ragtime Band, Boys Town, The Citadel, Four Daughters, La Grande Illusion, Pygmalion, Test Pilot, and winner You Can’t Take It With You. I have actually seen all of these films, and they are ALL fantastic.
Continuing with Noirvember, I decided to write about a proto-noir, William Wyler’s Dead End. This is a fabulous example of crime cinema, coming at the end of the thirties and a wave of films like Scarface and The Petrified Forest. Dead End takes a look at the life of several residents who live in tenements located below luxury apartments built for the view of the picturesque East River. The film was nominated for four Academy Awards, though it didn’t win any: Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Supporting Actress Claire Trevor and Best Picture. The other films nominated for Best Picture that year were The Awful Truth, Captains Courageous, The Good Earth, In Old Chicago, Lost Horizon, One Hundred Men and a Girl, Stage Door, A Star Is Born and winner The Life of Emile Zola.