The only son of wealthy widow Violet Venable dies while on vacation with his cousin Catherine. What the girl saw was so horrible that she went insane; now Mrs. Venable wants Catherine lobotomized to cover up the truth.
Joseph L. Mankiewicz
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
In his autobiography, Basil Rathbone lamented that he did not get the part of Dr Sloper in the film, following his performance in the play in New York, opposite Wendy Hiller. Had he been cast, and had Errol Flynn won the part of Morris Townsend as originally planned, this would have been a re-teaming of all three main stars from the film classics, "Captain Blood" (1935) and "The Adventures of Robin Hood" (1938. See more »
In the scene when Catherine and her father have a heated disagreement and he leaves the room, you see Catherine seated with her left hand in an open palm in a vertical orientation but in the next cut shot, from the front view her left hand is now face down on her leg. See more »
[Referring to Catherine]
How is it possible to protect such a willing victim?
You will kill her if you deny her this marriage.
You forget I'm a doctor. People don't die of such things.
See more »
Henry James novel of spinster daughter of wealthy doctor being wooed by a fortune hunter is meticulously brought to the screen by Wyler and a stellar cast. The beautiful de Havilland, made to look plain and dull, is quite good in her Oscar-winning title role. Also fine are Clift as the gold digger and Hopkins as de Havilland's understanding aunt. However, the best performance is given by Richardson as the cold, domineering father who wants to protect his daughter but also despises her meek existence. Brown, who plays the maid, looks like a young Grace Kelly. The cinematography is excellent and there's a fine score by Copland.
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