The Heiress

Tagline : A truly great motion picture.

Runtime : 115 mins

Genre : Drama Romance History

Vote Rating : 7.7/10

Budget : 2.6 million $ USD

Revenue : 2.3 million $ USD

Plot : Dull and plain Catherine lives with her emotionally distant father, Dr. Sloper, in 1840s New York. Her days are empty — filled with little more than needlepoint. Enter handsome Morris Townsend, a dashing social climber with his eye on the spinster's heart and substantial inheritance.

Cast Members


Turning of the tide in acting and directing masterclass. Dowdy spinster Catherine Sloper is stuck in a rut, she is often made to feel useless by her almost tyrannical father, and her life is ambling along in uneventful boredom. Potential gentleman suitors stay well clear of her, such is her unease with the social graces of the day. Then one day at a society ball she is lavished with attention from Morris Townsend, could this be love? Or is he merely after her inheritance? An inheritance her father will take away from her should she progress further with the shifty Townsend. A novel written by Henry James (Washington Square) and a successful Broadway play by Ruth & Augustus Goetz (responsible for the film's wonderful ending), The Heiress adapts perfectly to the big screen due to the almost peerless work from all involved in the production. Olivia de Havilland is sensational as Catherine, the tale is about Catharine's transition from put upon victim into a mature, rational wise woman, and de Haviland double deals from the top of the pack - with one particular look towards the end of the play, she may just own the title of worlds best ever icy stare. Ralph Richardson plays the father brilliantly, fusing a trio of character traits with imposing results. William Wyler's direction is right on the money, so it's no surprise to learn that de Havilland requested Wyler for the project, for she must surely have known that he was the man to bring out such a majestic two fold performance. Montgomery Clift gives a rather more safe than great performance as Townsend, perhaps at times too aware that de Havilland and Richardson were shining bright on set, Clift none the less is one of those actors whose average shows were still better than some of his so called peers' best. Major bonus here is the score from Aaron Copland, jaunty in earlier sections then swirling like a poetic menace in the final third, it's simply beautiful. Tales of bad feeling on the set can be found in various sources, with both Richardson & Clift showing disdain for de Havilland's acting ability. Surely though, one only has to view the film now to see that the off screen tensions lifted de Havilland up to another acting level, helped by the gifted hands of one William Wyler of course. A smashing, dramatic and engrossing picture, The Heiress is a must see for those looking for artistic deftness, and to find an ending that is a fittingly memorable piece of class. 9/10

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