A young naive woman falls for a handsome young man who her emotionally abusive father suspects is a fortune hunter.



(written for the screen by), (written for the screen by) | 3 more credits »

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Won 4 Oscars. Another 5 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »
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Complete credited cast:
Selena Royle ...
Paul Lees ...
Harry Antrim ...
David Thursby ...


In the mid-1800's, the wealthy Sloper family - widowed surgeon Dr. Austin Sloper, his adult daughter Catherine Sloper (Dr. Sloper's only surviving child), and Dr. Sloper's recently widowed sister Lavinia Penniman - live in an opulent house at 16 Washington Square, New York City. They have accrued their wealth largely through Dr. Sloper's hard work. Despite the lessons that Dr. Sloper has paid for in all the social graces for her, Catherine is a plain, simple, awkward and extremely shy woman who spends all her free time alone doing embroidery when she is not doting on her father. Catherine's lack of social charm and beauty - unlike her deceased mother - is obvious to Dr. Sloper, who hopes that Lavinia will act as her guardian in becoming more of a social person, and ultimately as chaperon if Catherine were ever to meet the right man. The first man ever to show Catherine any attention is the handsome Morris Townsend, who she met at a family party. Catherine is initially uncertain as to ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


She Was Taught To Love And Hate . . . By Masters ! See more »


Drama | Romance


Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

10 February 1950 (Australia)  »

Also Known As:

Die Erbin  »

Box Office


$2,600,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider. See more »


In the scene in the rain, Catherine takes Morris' cloak off herself and wraps it around him. After the next cut the cloak is missing, then in the following closeup it reappears and Catherine buttons it around Morris' neck. See more »


Mrs. Montgomery: [after meeting Catherine]
Mrs. Montgomery: I can only supposed that Morris is more mature in his feelings than I'd thought.
See more »


Referenced in The Mike Wallace Interview: Gloria Swanson (1957) See more »


Queen of the Flowers
(1860) (uncredited)
Music by Eugène Ketterer
Dance music at the party
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Fantastic Film, fantastic Olivia!
3 December 2004 | by (Durham, England) – See all my reviews

I saw this film about 10 years ago and have never forgotten it. Why it is not available on DVD - I just don't understand it.

Olivia de Havilland is heart-breaking as the woman who is so badly treated by her suitors and her father. I felt the portrayal of her father and the cruel way he treats her was so well played out and you could see how her soul is slowly being crushed.

I was so amazed and touched by the film, I went and got the book it is based on, Henry James' Washington Square. It was superb but nothing will make me forget the look on Olivia De Havilland's face at the end of the movie where you can see her features harden and all her youthful sweetness is gone.

Brilliant film!

53 of 57 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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