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The Heiress (1949) Poster

(1949)

Trivia

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Montgomery Clift was so unhappy with his performance, he walked out of the Premiere.
Olivia de Havilland wisely chose William Wyler as her director, considering that such a meticulous director would be able to coax a strong performance from her. As it turned out, Wyler became a staunch supporter of his leading actress, particularly in regard to the sneering attitude that Montgomery Clift displayed toward her (he didn't value her talents as an actress) and Ralph Richardson taking every opportunity to steal scenes from under her nose with his improvisations.
The song sung by Montgomery Clift while playing the piano is originally a vocal romance, "Plaisir d'amour", composed in 1784 by classical composer Jean-Paul-Égide Martini (August 31, 1741 - February 10, 1816), and was the basis for Elvis Presley's 1961 hit "I Can't Help Falling In Love With You" written for the movie Blue Hawaii (1961).
Ralph Richardson reprised the role of Dr. Sloper from the stage version, having played it in London's West End opposite Peggy Ashcroft.
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.
Cary Grant was interested in playing Morris Townsend, but William Wyler turned him down.
Montgomery Clift learned to play the piano for the scene where he sings, "The Joys of Love" to Olivia de Havilland.
During the spiral staircase scene, director Billy Wyler made thirty seven takes with Olivia De Havilland. Only after the last one, when she fell of exhaustion, Wyler declared that was the one he wanted to keep in the box.
Ginger Rogers was first offered the leading role but turned it down.
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.
This film was selected to the National Film Registry, Library of Congress, in 1996.
In a letter to the New York Times, Aaron Copland denied having composed the music used for the opening credits. His composition for the credits was deemed too challenging for audiences and was replaced at the request of the producer.
On September 29, 1947, the original Broadway play "The Heiress" by Ruth Goetz and Augustus Goetz opened at New York's Biltmore Theater starring Wendy Hiller and Basil Rathbone. The stage play ran for 410 performances.
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Betty Linley reprised her role of "Mrs. Montgomery" from the original Broadway production.
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The original idea was to reteam Olivia de Havilland with her frequent co-star Errol Flynn, but this was dropped in favor of the more subtle acting that Montgomery Clift could bring to the role.
One of over 700 Paramount Productions, filmed between 1929 and 1949, which were sold to MCA/Universal in 1958 for television distribution, and have been owned and controlled by MCA ever since.
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The working title of this film was Washington Square.
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Although the score is credited to Aaron Copland, William Wyler disliked it, and had it heavily rewritten and reorchestrated, possibly by Hugo Friedhofer who had orchestrated many of Max Steiner's and Korngold's lush operatic Warner Bros. scores, and Wyler's The Best Years of Our Lives (1946). What distinguished Copland from the usual Hollywood brand of orchestration was the simplicity and transparency of his scoring, and it was its spareness that so disturbed Wyler. The music sounds completely unlike any other piece of music Copland ever wrote, and it is no wonder he disowned it. Alex North, Copland's pupil, was more successful using this chamber music sound, notably in North's first film score A Streetcar Named Desire (1951). But Copland was ahead of his time.
"Lux Radio Theater" broadcast a 60 minute radio adaptation of the movie on September 11, 1950 with Olivia de Havilland reprising her film role.
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Producer Fred F. Finklehoffe planned to film a version of the play with the original Broadway cast, but that production was never realized.
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The film was originally going to be produced by Liberty Films, Inc., an independent production company headed, in part, by William Wyler, but when Paramount absorbed the production company in 1948, the studio took on the film.
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Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.
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William Wyler wanted Erroll Flynn for the Montgomery Clift role.
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Spoilers 

The trivia item below may give away important plot points.

To help Olivia de Havilland achieve the physically and emotionally weary and worn effect that he wanted, director William Wyler packed books into the suitcases that the actress lugged up the staircase in the scene where her character realizes that she has been jilted by her lover.

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Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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