- Acting of Lead Performers
- Acting of Supporting Cast
- Music Score
- Title Sequence
- Historical Importance
- Would You Recommend?
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THE HEIRESS: A Towering Emotional Experience
- Doc Long
Olivia de Havilland- known as the ultimate Southern Belle (thanks to her role as Melanie Wilkes in Gone With The Wind) was actually born in Japan 100 years ago to British parents. In 1949 she teamed with revered director William Wyler along with a true southern belle in the chameleon-like Miriam Hopkins of Savannah, Georgia and scholarly Ralph Richardson to test the boundaries of a family's emotional tug of war. Nominated for numerous Academy Awards, Oscar winner for de Havilland as Best Actress and considered one of the great films in Hollywood history, the story is as ancient as parables of love and honor. Handsome playboy (portrayed by up and comer Montgomery Clift) pretends to love rich man's plain looking daughter so that he will be set for life financially but squanders his opportunity. What makes this telling different is the effect such a shattering experience has on the character played by de Havilland. While veteran Ray Collins demonstrates his noted cool and calm demeanor, the performance of 29-year old Nebraska native Montgomery Clift seems as shallow as his part of the cad. With a career beset by various setbacks for one reason or the other, we are left to wonder if Clift- who passed away 50 years ago- would have been considered such a true talent if he had survived to this day. Whatever the case, Olivia de Havilland makes The Heiress a must see experience.
William Wyler's Sure Hand
- David H.
As with "Roman Holiday" four years later, William Wyler's sure hand is all over this film. You can see it not only in Olivia De Havilland's Oscar-deserving performance, but with the other actors as well. Wyler may have been a taskmaster on the set at times, but the results here and elsewhere show he generally knew what he was doing. Also, I do not consider De Havilland's character a "murdheiress" as her father was putting her down even before the fortune-hunter came along. Forgiveness is fine and good, but it doesn't always happen in life nor in this stunning film.
Merci, Merci, Merci Madame de Havilland and God bless you.
Gettimg even with the 2 men in her life was apropos for the gold digger but murderous to her father needing forgiveness before death!
This is one of my favorites. I wish TCM would show it more often.
I have been waiting for TCM to show The Heiress. It is one of the best movies ever!!! Ralph Richardson was excellent as the hard core father who found it difficult to love his daughter for who she was. Miriam Hopkins was delightful as his sister who loved Catherine but felt sorry for her. Montgomery Cliff indeed was a player and his performance was fascinating. Olivia DeHavilland was exquisite Catherine. Her range as an actor is superb. The whole mood of this movie takes you to the period it was in and you are transfixed with the emotions and the games being played. I absolutely love this movie. Please let me know when you will have it on again. Most definitely let me know when it comes on DVD.
- kevin sellers
Hands down, (or should I say gloves down?) the best movie adaptation of a work by Henry James.
I absolutely love this movie. When will it be on again?
- Dawn Jackson
This movie has me captivated. I recorded it months ago and have watched it every single night since then..I see something new in it every time I watch it. I love everything about this movie. It leaves me breathless. I love the song Morris sang to Catherine in the parlor, first in French then in English. The joys of love last but a short time, the pain of love last all your life, all your life..the perfect synopsis for this incredible movie. Catherine is breathless when Morris first tell's her of his love for her as she fiddles with her beaded bag in her hand. Then a few nights later he follows her into the parlor to have his port and he grabs her and kisses her. He whispers gently into her hair that he would cherish her forever. She lays her head on his shoulder in astonishment and wonder. She then kisses him on his cheek in the most tender way I have ever seen on film and then kisses his shoulder. She raises her head and you can see the tear in her eye at finally being loved by someone. She follows him to the door where she tells him "I will always love you". Catherines expressions on her face are amazing. The bo-tox injected actresses that we have now have lost that part of acting. You can see the love beaming on Catherine's face, the anticipation and hope building on her face waiting for Morris to arrive to carry her away. then you see the pain and agony when she realizes that he has duped her and does not love her and is not coming for her. It is hard to watch and listen to her shouts of "MORRIS, MORRIS" and her cries of pain and anguish as aunt Penniman closes the slding door to drown out the cries coming from Catherine. My heart is wrenched from my chest every time I experience that scene.The tender scene when Dr Sloper comes home to find a sleeping Catherine and gently shakes his keys in her ear to awaken her, she jumps up at him and he takes a step back. So realistic, so charming. Miriam Hopkins is brilliant also as aunt Penniman, love her. 5 stars..
When Hollywood knew how to tell a good story.....
A fascinating movie from "Hollywood's Golden Age" when they still knew how to tell a good story that could successfully sweep you away away for a couple of hours with an elegance and class that has been sadly lost by modern hollywood. Olivia deHaviland somehow manages to pull off being believable as an insecure plain jane while Ralph Richardson is like poetry in motion playing the role of her cold, aloof father. Another memorable William Wyler directed film.
The Heiress is a film that I did not expect to be so moved by. Certainly one could go on and on about the marvelous acting. I had known Olivia had won the Oscar for this role and she is riveting. I expected Montgomery Clift to be fabulous. His use of method acting in this period piece brings a dynamic element to this film. Ralph Richardson's reputation and command of the art creates electricity just by his sheer presence. However it was some of the other elements that particularly impressed me. The cinematography and the camerawork were outstanding. I found the composition of many of these shots to be groundbreaking and well before their time. The set design, with the use of the staircase and the garden to convey psychological tension and anguish, was inspired and also quite modern for the use of these techniques in a historical drama. The costumes were not only beautiful but also worked so well to convey the story. Olivia's gown in the final scenes is breathtaking, dovetailing beautifully with her personal transformation. And I can't even begin to tell you how much Aaron Copland's Oscar-winning score adds to this film. It was lilting, stirring and absolutely gorgeous. I believe that this is a movie that has aged to perfection and become even more greatly appreciated over time.
Forging Strength Through Abuse
What a brilliant movie. I love the triumph of this woman who rather than fold against constant criticism, rises up as a triumphant and unapologetic if not harsh character."I was taught by masters". Favorite Quote. Bravo! I adore Olivia! And I felt the entire movie was brilliantly cast, including Clift. Theres a reason his character rings hollow. Genius!
The Movie That Spells Triumph
This movie hit me so very hard, I had to turn away more than a few times- yes I was actually tearing up more than a few times. Olivia De Haviland is so thoroughly believeable as Catherine, it's almost, no, it IS very painful to watch her being taken in by Morris. I kept hoping, like Catherine, maybe Morris is sincere but I knew that wasn't to be. I found myself so emotionally involved with the story until I felt it as deeply as Olivia's character did when she realized she had been deserted by her suitor. The scene where she breaks down in tears is an incredible example of how a good actress can affect the viewer with just the slightest motions. She sits, still somewhat hopeful, but aware of what's taken place. Her facial expression isn't obvious, but you know there is such pain. When she finally releases the pain through tears, it's about as heartbreaking as anything you'll ever see. The following scene of Catherine ascending those stairs- another emotional toll is taken. She looks so defeated and yet resigned to the fact that she hasn't escaped that house. She stops for a brief moment and the next flight up seems like the highest mountain to climb. If you keep this scene in mind, it plays out brilliantly at the end of the movie.When Catherine, now a bit more resolved, a bit more hardened (though not by choice, but out of survival) finally stands up to her father, that was a crowning moment; when she sets Morris up to take his final fall- how can anyone NOT cheer for this lady? The best part was the end when she ascends those same stairs. She stars out tentatively, then you can see on her face, the look of a Woman who beat a merciless con at his own game. Now she climbs those stairs in triumph. Somehow, even as a guy, I felt like Olivia De Haviland in this movie stood up for every last one of us who was ever bullied, unloved or felt like an outsider. For that, I'll always love the woman.
To Think it Didn't Happen to Just Me
- Claudia M. Howe
The Heiress was throughly engrossing. For the first time in my life I watched a young woman treated with disdain and continual criticism by her egomaniac father. It could have been me. I thought it had only happened to me. Now I realize how parents and families constantly and continually rob their children of self-worth, self-confidence, self-esteem and happiness. They find no redeeming qualities and seek only to destroy any personality of their child. Now I know it happens to others. Olivia DeHavilland taught me to stand up for myself and take charge of my life. There are many Morrises in this world seeking weak women. She evolved from a weak and timid woman to a self-assured, confident and decisive woman who took charge of her life.I recently learned the man who did this to me died. HURRAH!
I give this movie 4 stars.
The first time I saw this on TCM , I sat motionless until the very end . And then , I was overcome with emotion ! The storyline the performances everything was just superb ! I could not get this movie out of my mind for days afterward ! It is truly a classic and worthy of great praise . If you haven't seen it , please don't miss it ! What a powerful and surprising ending . I have been checking my TCM schedule in the hopes that it will air again , soon .
One of the finest movies ever made.
- Mark g. Richard
This film was made to perfection by one of the greatest directors ever put behind a camera. William Wyler. Check his list and you will see his accomplishments. I have seen this script on stage many times and no actress in recent years has ever got it right except maybe Julie Harris ( Hallmark production's early television) but she could do no wrong. This Henry James story is an absolute masterpiece in human nature and each time I see the film I learn something about human behavior. Olivia de Haviland was in a class all by her self. I noticed the last time I saw the film on a large screen that her make up changed making her skin slightly darker toward the end to make her stronger in appearance. The Hollywood genius's knew all the tricks. No computers just creative genius. I loved everyone who summited a review remarks. They all got it and said the same things in so many different yet the same Observations. Why can't they make them this way anymore... Jack Nicholson when asked by paramount to remake this with Tom Cruise (ha ha) After the screening he stood up and said "I'm out of here" No one could ever touch that. It was perfect. SMART MAN...
- george snedker
olivia is magnificent in wyler's great period drama matched superbly by richardson as her father,but clift is miscast he's not a period actor otherwise this is a great movie.
Top 10 Classic Movies
One of the best movies. Period. Great screenplay and the acting by Olivia deHaviland and Sir Ralph Richardson is superb. How Sir Ralph didn't win an Oscar for this role, I will not know? Dr. Sloper's vicious words to his only daughter and then Catherine's retort back to him later was outstanding. I can't say enough about this wonderful movie. Buy it NOW!
- Dashiell Barnes
Olivia de Havilland is absolutely perfect as the title character, who is so plain & naive it makes her a painfully real character. Clift seems miscast & out of place as the fortune hunter, while Richardson is terrific as de Havillands arrogant father. Edith Head's costumes & Aaron Copland's score add a great deal more to this adaptation of the famous novel. A great story led by a remarkable performance. I give it a 4/5.
- Becky Wilson
This is a truly outstanding movie in both writing and acting. The plot is engaging and intense and the ending is surprising and unique. The script is outstanding. I highly recommend it.
- Watching at the gym
Actually, I too, at first thought, it was Warren Beatty. They have similar profiles, though not when head-on.
This is my absolute favorite of Olivia de Havilland's movies! I NEVER tire of watching her incredible, Academy award-winning performance! The way she portrayed the transformation of a timid,love-struck young girl, to that of a vengeful, self-assured woman is a must-see for any de Havilland fan. Montgomery Clift, supeb as the conniving suitor, played the part beautifully. They were a perfect combination in this film! Don't miss it!!
Wrong lead actor
- Jeff Boston
I watched "The Heiress" last night, and enjoyed it more than I thought I would. A feminine film, but not overtly feminist like the remake ("Washington Square"). I agree with all the Oscar nominations (including Best Picture) and Olivia's win. So engrossing, even though 90% of it is inside the doctor's palatial abode (one could easily surmise it was a play before a movie). I really liked the scene where the doctor talks with the young man's sister. Wyler directed so many great films so well, and both Olivia and "Monty" were top-notch actors. However, Monty would have been more convincing to the viewer if this classic was set in the 1950s instead of the 1850s.
- Janet J
First I must state to the reviewer below, unless I missed something what does this movie have to do with Warren Beatty? He was 12 years old at the time of this film. Are you mixing him up with Montgomery Clift? If so I dont know how as they are not een similar. That being said I went into this movie knowing nothing about it or anyone else who saw it who could tell me about it. It was wonderful. As always Olivia does her best acting and Montgomery cant do any wrong with me. The supporting cast was excellent, too. I see it might be playing again 2/4. Dont miss it.
The Heiress Review
Olivia is a very indiosyncratic actress. She can play a lead and be happy to take a supporting role.Olivia could never be plain or ugly because there was a light that shone through her in every performance. This movie shows how good of an actress she was. Wareen Beatty, In "Splender in the Grass" the trailer stated that was his first leading role. Besides He does not look any diffrent to me than he did in "Splender." Anyway, This is not your chick flick Last Chance, Harvey movie. No, this has a little twist. I recomend this movie if you do not like the typical romance movies.
Very Good Movie
- Laura J
I had taped this movie back in October but didnt want to sit and watch it for 2 hours so I never played it, However due to the recent blizzard I had the time and I loved it. I can kick myself for not watching it sooner. The acting was superb and the storyline really good. The 2 hours just flew by. I highly recommend it.
I just caught the second half of the movie this morning...& thought "oh why watch it, as I have seen it again & again"...but despite my own protestations...I was caught AGAIN by this magnificent movie. Pure EXCELLENCE in every regard. To watch such a performance by Olivia de Havilland...amazing, honest, perfection. I think she must be in almost every scene....amazing.I think it would be interesting to program the 1997 "Washington Square" movie starring Jennifer Jason Leigh. Tall order to live up to "The Heiress" but I thought it was very well done. Leigh's performance is quite excellent as well.Thank You TCM for putting one of my ALL Time favorite movies on your schedule.
Este filme excelente. Olivia de Havilland e Montgomery Clift esto brilhantes. E a direo de William Wyler excelente como sempre. TCM espero que exiba este filme logo. Ele muito bom mesmo.
my favorite movie
- Thomas C. Kelly
I've seen this film at least five times. The first time in 1949 as a 14 year old, and it was fabulous on the big screen in a large movie palace in Buffalo, New York. Unfortunately, subsequent viewings were on the small TV screen. However, it was still fascinating to watch such magnificent performances by all especially Olivia de Havilland, and Ralph Richardson as her father. Her response to Miriam Hopkins, "I can be very cruel. I've been taught by masters" is unforgettable. She made you feel her pain. There were many compelling scenes, and the settings are absolutely authenticity at its best. You feel you are in 1850s Washington Square, NYC. It's just amazing every time I see this movie. Olivia de Havilland was great in Snake Pit, To Each His Own, The Dark Mirror, and TV's The Screaming Woman, but she tops them all in The Heiress. A must-see movie and it's never boring no matter how many times you see it. I hope the Library of Congress has preserved this film for all time. WONDERFUL!
An Oscar-Winning Dramatic Triumphant.
- Frank Harris Horn
Oscar-winning director, William Wyler brings Ruth and Augustus Goetz's (of whom, they wrote the adapted screenplay) successful Broadway play, based on Henry James' renowned novel, "Washington Square" set in 19th-century New York City, to life on the silver screen. Olivia de Havilland garnishes her second Academy Award as Best Actress as a young 19th-century aristocratic young woman and Montgomery Clift as a young fortune hunter and Sir Ralph Richardson as her father, who suspects this young man is after her estate and threatens to disinherit her. The picture won three more Oscars for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration (B&W), Aaron Copland won for Best Score and Best Costume Design (B&W). Another Oscar-winning triumph for Olivia de Havilland. Remade in 1997 under the title of "Washington Square". With Miriam Hopkins, Mona Freeman, Vanessa Brown, Ray Collins, Betty Linley, Selena Royle, Paul Lees, Harry Antrim, Russ Conway & David Thursby.
Amazing performances, Heart-Breaking Story
- Robert Mark Megna
I was thrilled to see this fine film again this evening! Olivia de Havilland gives a performance of astounding range and complexity. Her understanding of the manners and mores of the period is equally impressive. Montgomery Clift seems a bit less convincing as a person of that era, but his acting is still excellent. The injection of ambiguity into the motives of Morris Townsend adds a lot of interest and tension to the story, unlike the character in the play who is obviously a gold-digger. The confrontation scene between father and daughter has to be one of the greatest dramatic scenes in American film! The ending, however, is certainly a pyrrhic victory for Catherine.
One of the finest and most shattering films of all time. I marvel that a work of such subtlety and deceptive simplicity can be so stark and so raw at the same time. The climactic scene between father and daughter hit me like a fist in the gut; so powerful, so unrelenting, I had to fight the urge to look away. deHavilland's heiress displays her pain and humiliation with shocking honesty, without a shred of mawkish sentimentality or melodrama. Her courage and strength of character are revealed by her guileless suffering, and when you realize what a remarkable person she really is, you finally understand the depth and scope of her tragedy. Shivers! A singularly stunning movie experience. I never miss a chance to see it again and it still gets me every time.
observation from a scene in the movie
this is a great movie. i do have an observation which i wonder if i missed a part to this movie tonite that i swear i remember seeing the first time i saw it. the first time i saw it i could swear i remember the scene when the father has taken his daughter(dehavillan) to europe and they are sitting outside at what appears to be a cafe. when i saw it the first time, i thought part of the dialogue bertween the father and daughter the father painfully says to his daughter that she is not good looking. dont know if i imagined that scene and dialogue but when i watched it tonite the cafe scene lasted a few seconds at that. so if anyone out there can comment on this as i hope i didnt imagine that scene. thanks. dh.
- Nora Thomas
How clever of Mr. Wyler to decide upon Montgomery Clift for the leading man rather than Errol Flynn in order to leave the true intentions of the suitor up to the viewer to decide. Such a decision keeps the viewer on the edge of their seat, expecting the question to be answered at any moment, and instead being willingly led to a climatic finish and a most unexpected ending. Olivia de Havilland was brilliant in this part, and it's easy to see why she was nominated for an academy award for her part.
THis is a great movie. But one that is so, so sad. It kind of makes you wonder if the father is being possissive (sp?) of his daughter. WHy does he think the only thing she has going for her is her money? How sad she is denied the one she loves.
Sir Ralph Richardson was very Interesting
- Jeffrey Kenison
I like Sir Ralph Ricahrdson in this one. I can imagine this is one of his finest performances since "The Four Feathers" (1939).
Oh, this film is fantastic! First, I must say how incredible Olivia is in this one. This stunning woman actually appears homely, which is a triumph in itself, and her acting in this role should be studied by anyone considering the profession. She is cynical, madly in love, deeply sad, and cold as ice, all in one film. I also love the fact that you do not get the ending you thought was coming. It's nice that happy endings didn't take precedence over a great storyline, which is thankfully common with films of this era. Clift is awesome in this one as well, making most female viewers fall for him too. All in all, a fabulous film!
"The Heiress", starring Olivia D'Haviland, is one of the most rich, moving, and touching tales of Katharine, A young heiress who is single, living with her cold-hearted father in a large; lonely mansion in New York, along with her Aunt who is oblivious to reality and is trapped in a surreal world that is all her own. Olivia D'Haviland did a glorious job as portraying a woman with no beauty, spirit, or brains, but in the end becomes wise and skilled, and no longer falls for Morris, a decieving young man trying to marry her for money. Olivia is one of my favorite actresses, and did an outstanding job. This film is wonderful, and I HIGHLY reccommend it to all.
One of my favortie Films!
I saw this film two years ago when I was 16 years old. Everytime it comes on TCM, I just have to watch it. Its such a great movie!Olivia De Havilland is so wonderful and powerful in it and she really breaks your heart. The Heiress has become one of my all time favorite films.
My Favorite Movie
This is just about my favorite movie starring one of my favorite actresses.Olivia is wonderful, heartbreaking and powerful. If you haven't seen this movie buy the DVD! Better than the book.
A heartbreaking work of art
- Maureen Doran
I had never heard of this movie and saw this masterpiece during one of my favorite times of year-31 Days of Oscars! on TCM. Sometimes, I stay up all night, watching movie after movie and this was one of those nights-watching Olivia de Haviland's hopes and dreams melt away and the hard shell form around her heart. Her performance was amazingly crushing. I was hoping it would be on again this 31 days but I haven't seen it on the schedule so I think I'll have to buy it on DVD!
when i saw this movie 6 years ago, i loved it. it was a real emotional story. it makes Citizen Kane look like a waste of time, (which it is) i suggested that Turner Classic Movies get the Heiress, but it wasn't in their databanks. i'm glad this has been corrected.
Olivia is astounding!!!
- Donald Nichols
I found this movie to contain the third best movie performance ever captured on film---that of Olivia DeHavilland as Catherine---and the second is Olivia's The Snake Pit and the first, of course, Vivien Leigh as Blance Dubois.
The transformation of Olivia de Havilland's Catherine from mousy to mistress of her fate is wonderful to behold. This may be her best performance ever. Wonderful period costumes and production design. Fine performances from the great Ralph Richardson and the drop-dead gorgeous Montgomery Clift can't eclipse the fact that "The Heiress" is Olivia's show all the way.
Catherine the Great!
My favorite scene comes at the very end of the movie. Catherine's lover is pounding on her front door, calling her name. Catherine ignores his pleas and slowing climbs the stairs to her bedroom. Throught the window above the door, her lover sees the lights of the candles fading away. He pounds harder on the door still shouting her name, but she doesn't answer. The look on her face as she climbs those stairs is priceless.
One of those films that keeps you riveted. It's absolutely awesome!
- Bob Galvin-Oliphant
A sad drama, with excellent performances. The scene with de Havilland and Clift when she has him agree to elope is heartbreaking. Olivia de Havilland is made up to look plain in this movie, but her beauty shines through nevertheless.
The Best of the Best!
My favorite. picture. I tape it everytime that it's on. Everyone is excellent. Monty Cliff at the end is undescribably brilliant.
- Frank Koiner
In my openion, this is the GREATEST single performance by an Actress in american motion picture history. Olivia de Havilland's performance is riveting. Also, ALL of the supporting perfprmances are outstanding, especially Sir Ralph Richardson. The final argument scene between He and Olivia is a Classic. Miriam Hopkins also shows why she was always one of the Best. This is a GREAT Film that should be Released NOW on DVD.
Can't Believe I Hadn't Seen It!!
- R. Dimmery
This movie pulled me in & I didn't want to move until it ended. Ms. de Havilland well deserved her Oscar, however, I was surprised that Wyler & Clift did not also receive awards. I suppose it was some consolation that "The Heiress" received seven Academy Awards!! William Wyler's direction was artful, in that the movie was not melodramatic but riveting.
THE HEIRESS - EXCEPTIONAL
- Audrey E. Stephens
If there is anyone who loves a good love story...this is definitely the movie to watch. It tugs at your heartstrings and you will definitely cry. But towards the end, you will feel all the satisfaction anyone can feel, once betrayed. What a work of art. I loved the irony of it all and most of all there is truth when Ms. DeHaviland said those magic words, "I've learned from the Masters". Extraordinary, Excellent, ... There truly is no fury, like a woman scorned. And she did it with such class. I LOVED IT. And just think, when the movie was made, I wasn't even born!!!