The Heiress

The Heiress

DVD - 2007 | Full frame version
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A wealthy girl falls in love with a penniless man her father is sure only wants her for her money. When she plans to elope, her father threatens to disinherit her. Will she still go through with the marriage?
Publisher: Universal City, Calif. : Universal Pictures : Universal Studios Home Entertainment [distributor], c2007
Edition: Full frame version
Branch Call Number: DVD H DRAMA (NFR)
Characteristics: 1 videodisc (116 min.) : sd., b&w ; 4 3/4 in


From Library Staff

She doesn't arrest anyone or pull out handcuffs, but she most definitely takes down one bad guy while empowering women all over the world. Proof that you don't have to actually kick someone in the gut to "kick them in the gut," so to speak.

Yes, Olivia de Havilland won an Oscar for her performance in this film, based on Henry James' novel Washington Square. But, many have not seen this classic historical gem about love, loss and female empowerment. Another fantastic ending.

From the critics

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Feb 08, 2020

Every aspect of this movie is wonderful: the adaptation of Henry James's non-cinematic writing, the acting -- career highs for the entire cast --, the direction, the cinematography, the score.... We're conditioned to see flaws in everything these days, but assuming you like this kind of story at all, you'll love it. See it so you can say "I have seen a film that is perfectly made."

Feb 07, 2020

Montgomery Clift in an early role is the surprise here, handily outshining Olivia de Havilland, who overacts as though she's verily vying for an Oscar - the rest of the cast, notably Ralph Richardson and Miriam Hopkins, is impeccable in this still, however improbably, superb melodrama

🎥 Montgomery Clift and Ralph Richardson both give terrific performances in this story by Henry James. Contrary to the impression given below, Clift's disfiguring car wreck happened in 1956, years after this movie was made.

Dec 09, 2019

Great acting and adaptation of the novel. A timeless classic.

Nov 28, 2019

Intelligent dialogue and characters bring to life a story about a woman who overcomes the traditional image of herself that her father and fiancee have. Her father wants her to be like his wife and cannot see her value as she is. Her fiancee uses her expectations of romantic love to gain control of her, expecting that she will comply to his desires for his purposes.

But she defies them both, uses her own mind and experience to see the truth and act accordingly. Very few films about women's liberation ever have or ever will come up to this standard.

Mar 01, 2019

About the looks of Montgomery Clift: He was over at Elizabeth Taylor's house one night, at a party, and left early. There was a screeching of tires outside, and the sad fact is that the car accident it was ruined Clift's perfect face. He would go on to act in films, but the camera angles were adjusted to avoid the ruined side of his face. That's Hollywood! ( Claudette Colbert only allowed photographing one side of her face)

Mar 01, 2019

VERY GOOD 1949 somewhat dark film about daughter of a rich man's romance with a conniving man more interested in her money than...

Aug 17, 2016

Montgomery Clift is said to have worried during the making of "The Heiress" that his performance as Morris Townsend was too "modern" (that is, too out of step with the classical performances of Ralph Richardson and Olivia de Havilland). I am not sure he was right, though watching the film I think (I think) I see what he means. Perhaps costume melodrama was simply not Clift's forte.
Still, he is wonderful to watch. I would argue that though his character comes across as callow and slightly off-balance, he is supposed to: Morris is a social outsider. He is also quite spoiled and used to getting by on his considerable charm and dazzling youthful beauty. And Clift brings just enough ambiguity to the role that in the shattering final scene, as he pleads and pounds at that locked door, we can't help feeling some pity for Morris. His high-flown dreams and expectations are disintegrating before his eyes.

As the wily Dr. Sloper, Richardson is brilliant in his cold and autocratic cruelty. Miriam Hopkins is touching as the rather ditzy, hopeless romantic Aunt Lavinia. She is so eager for Catherine's happiness and so charmed by the charismatic Morris that she allows him to make her a (mostly unwitting) partner in his maneuverings. In the end, Lavinia is very nearly as shattered as Catherine by his deception.

All that said, "The Heiress" belongs to the marvelous de Havilland. She is heartbreaking in her shy naiveté and breathless hope in the first part of the film and majestic in her bitterness--as cold and unreachable as her father--by the film's climactic end.

Dec 16, 2015

Excellent! This was such a sad, intense and heart-breaking film. And Montgomery Clift was so good looking!!! Olivia deserved her Oscar for this performance.

Feb 20, 2015

Olivia de Havilland won her second Oscar playing mousy spinster Catherine Sloper in William Wyler’s beautiful adaptation of a play based on Henry James’ novel “Washington Square”. In a swank New York neighbourhood circa 1850s successful widower Dr. Austin Sloper (Oscar nominee Ralph Richardson) is doing his best to marry off his daughter Catherine. But years of being unjustly compared to her mother, a woman whose memory Dr. Sloper worships, has left the aging Catherine painfully timid and socially awkward much to her father’s disappointment. Things change one evening at a society dance when the reluctant debutante meets the dashing but penniless Morris Townsend (an unconvincing Montgomery Clift) who takes an instant liking to her. Flattered beyond words by Morris’ amorous attentions Catherine experiences love for the first time in her life—a development which thrills her romantic airhead Aunt Lavinia (Miriam Hopkins, superb) but leaves her highly judgmental father cold as he naturally suspects Morris of being more interested in his daughter’s dowry than her personality. When all his attempts to discourage the relationship fail Dr. Sloper threatens to disinherit Catherine and this single proclamation will prove to be the catalyst which changes her life forever. A brilliant script laced with humour and tragedy is further enhanced by a compassionate orchestral score and tight B&W cinematography which transforms the Sloper’s opulent brownstone into a psychological prison as images of lacy drapes and sunshine conflict with nighttime scenes of empty staircases and feeble lamplight. But this is above all a character-driven film and the interplay between Richardson and de Havilland as implacable father and daughter, with Hopkins and Clift providing counterbalance, is as engrossing as it is heartbreaking. One of Wyler’s finest achievements.

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