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

Director:

William Wyler

Writers:

Ruth Goetz (written for the screen by), Augustus Goetz (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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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Olivia de Havilland ... Catherine Sloper
Montgomery Clift ... Morris Townsend
Ralph Richardson ... Dr. Austin Sloper
Miriam Hopkins ... Lavinia Penniman
Vanessa Brown ... Mariah
Betty Linley ... Mrs. Montgomery
Ray Collins ... Jefferson Almond
Mona Freeman ... Marian Almond
Selena Royle ... Elizabeth Almond
Paul Lees Paul Lees ... Arthur Townsend
Harry Antrim ... Mr. Abeel
Russ Conway ... Quintus
David Thursby 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:

Greatness in a motion picture (insert) See more »

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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 producer William Wyler. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Elizabeth Almond: Well, she has the prospect of $30,000 a year.
Austin Sloper: I see you appreciate her.
Elizabeth Almond: I don't mean it's her only merit. But you always have a way of alluding to her as an unmarriageble girl.
Austin Sloper: My allusions are just as kind as yours.
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Connections

Referenced in The Age of Innocence (1993) See more »

Soundtracks

Queen of the Flowers
(1860) (uncredited)
Music by Eugène Ketterer
Dance music at the party
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User Reviews

 
Story of an oppressive Father and his tyranny over his socially-awkward daughter
2 March 2011 | by LeifGreenSee all my reviews

I agree with the review written by "Jemmytee". The best part of this movie is that fact that there are no easy answers. I've watched it a dozen times and I still question some of the characters' sincerity and motives -- especially those of Dr. Sloper and Morris.

Catherine's Father is obdurate in his opinion of Morris' character and, therefore, utterly against the union of Morris and his daughter. In one rushed scene, Dr. Sloper's sister (or sister-in-law), a minor character, warns him to tread carefully. He could prevent the marriage on the grounds that Morris might be reckless with the family fortune BUT Morris might do very well with it and secure happiness for his awkward, sad daughter.

These interesting points-of-view, which feel almost casually thrown into the mix, create a deftly handled portrayal of family dynamics and the fragility of the father/daughter relationship.

This movie appears simple - but it is astounding in its subtle complexities!


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | French

Release Date:

28 December 1949 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Heiress See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$2,600,000 (estimated)

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$158
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Company Credits

Production Co:

Paramount Pictures See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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