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
After seeing The Heiress on Broadway, Olivia de Havilland approached William Wyler about directing her in a screen adaptation of the play. He agreed and encouraged Paramount Pictures executives to purchase the rights from the playwrights (Ruth and Augustus Goetz) for $250,000 and offer them $10,000 per week to write the screenplay. The couple were asked to make Morris less of a villain than he was in their play and the original novel in deference to the studio's desire to capitalize on Montgomery Clift's reputation as a romantic leading man. See more »
This story takes place at the end of the 1840s, but none of the men wear the cravats--material bound around the neck and tied in either the front or back--that were fashionable in that period; instead they wear neckties and bow ties, which did not come into fashion until the late 1850s. See more »
Now, Catherine, if you will stay by me this evening, you will see that what I say is not always of the greatest importance, but dear, that doesn't keep me from talking.
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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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