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The Heiress (1949)

Passed  -  Drama | Romance  -  10 February 1950 (Sweden)
8.2
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Ratings: 8.2/10 from 8,184 users  
Reviews: 111 user | 44 critic

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

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(written for the screen by), (written for the screen by), 3 more credits »
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Title: The Heiress (1949)

The Heiress (1949) on IMDb 8.2/10

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Won 4 Oscars. Another 7 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
...
...
Vanessa Brown ...
Betty Linley ...
...
Mona Freeman ...
Selena Royle ...
Paul Lees ...
Harry Antrim ...
Mr. Abeel
Russ Conway ...
Quintus
David Thursby ...
Geier
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

A picture you'll always remember (half-sheet) See more »

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

10 February 1950 (Sweden)  »

Also Known As:

Die Erbin  »

Box Office

Budget:

$2,600,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Ginger Rogers was first offered the leading role but turned it down. See more »

Goofs

When Dr. Sloper goes into his office to examine himself because he isn't feeling well, as he opens up his doctor's bag, the middle finger of his right hand is shown quite unusually extended, but then the next cut shot shows it in a different position. See more »

Quotes

Aunt Penniman: [Referring to Morris] But he's looking for a position most earnestly.
Austin Sloper: I wonder if he's looking for it here, Lavinia.
Aunt Penniman: What?
Austin Sloper: Wouldn't the position of a husband to a defenseless young girl with a large fortune suit him to perfection?
Aunt Penniman: How can you entertain such a suspicion?
Austin Sloper: Suspicion? It's a diagnosis.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Dynasty: The Heiress (1985) See more »

Soundtracks

Gavotte
(1786) (uncredited)
Music by François-Joseph Gossec
Dance music at the party
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Breathtaking
9 April 2004 | by (Los Angeles, Ca.) – See all my reviews

To call this film well-acted is like calling "Citizen Kane" a nice movie and Alfred Hitchcock an "okay" director. William Wyler was known for eliciting excellent performances from his actors (he's responsible for them receiving a record 14 Oscars in acting; more than twice as many as any other director) and in "The Heiress" he's in top form. This movie should be played in every acting class ever taught to show the brilliance of subtlety and range of expressions possible when one is conveying a character's inner emotions.

Olivia De Havilland is a beautiful woman, but you believe she's an ungainly bundle of shy awkwardness in the role of Catherine Sloper. And her transformation to a cruel wounded creature is perfectly believable. And Ralph Richardson as Dr. Sloper and Miriam Hopkins as Aunt Lavinia are letter perfect beside her. Sir Ralph (at least, I THINK he was knighted) can do more with stillness and a flick of an eyebrow than any actor I've ever seen (including Brando, Penn and any other method actor you care to toss into the mix). He was robbed at the Oscars.

Montgomery Clift was beautiful and seductive and, except for a couple of moments where he seemed too 1950s instead of 1850s, just right for the part. He almost holds his own with Sir Ralph when they meet to discuss him marrying Catherine, but he did do better work in "A Place In The Sun" and "From Here To Eternity."

Wyler's simplicity and grace in directing only enhanced the story. The use of mirrors to deepen emotional content (as in when Dr. Sloper, now ill, goes to his office after getting the cold shoulder from Catherine) is stunning. So is his willingness to let a scene play out rather than force along the pacing of the moment, as so many directors do, today (as in when Catherine offers to help her father rewrite his will).

There are no easy answers in this movie. You can think Dr. Sloper is right about Morris and only wants to protect his daughter, or you can see his actions as those of a vindictive man who blames her for the death of his beloved wife (in childbirth). Morris could be a fortune hunter, or he could be a man who does care for Catherine, in his own way, and would make her happy. Or all of the above. The whole movie is so beautifully composed, it's breathtaking. A definite must see for anyone who appreciates great stories well-told.


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