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The Heiress

The Heiress(1949)

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The working title of this film was Washington Square. Opening cast credits differ slightly in their order from end credits, which lists Betty Linley above the credits for Ray Collins. Betty Linley, who made her screen debut in the film, also appeared as "Mrs. Montgomery" in the original American stage play, and Ralph Richardson re-enacted his role from the 1949 London production. According to a September 1947 Los Angeles Examiner news item, producer Fred F. Finklehoffe planned to film a version of the play with the original Broadway cast, but that production was never realized. The Heiress originally was to be produced by Liberty Films, Inc., an independent production company headed, in part, by William Wyler, but when Paramount absorbed the production company in 1948, the studio took on the film. According to modern sources, Olivia de Havilland, who had seen the Broadway play, approached Wyler about adapting it for a screen version which would feature her in the lead role. According to Paramount press information contained in copyright records, excerpts from the following musical pieces were heard in the film: "Galop di bravura," by Julius Schulhoff; "Gavotte," by Franois Joseph Gossec; "Coquette polka," by Charles d'Albert; "Gaetana" and "Queen of the Flowers," by Eugne Ketterer. Paramount borrowed Vanessa Brown from Twentieth Century-Fox. Olivia de Havilland won her second Academy Award for Best Actress, and the film also won awards for Best Art Direction/Set Direction (black and white), Music (Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture), Costume Design (Black-and-White), and was nominated for awards in the following categories: Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Ralph Richardson), Best Direction and Best Cinematography. In 1954, NBC-TV aired a version of The Heiress based on the Paramount film for Lux Video Theatre, starring Vincent Price, Marilyn Erskine, Donald Murphy and Ellen Corby; and in 1961, a version based on the play was televised on CBS for Family Classics, and starred Julie Harris and Farley Granger.