8.2/10
11,340
126 user 56 critic

The Heiress (1949)

Not Rated | | Drama , Romance | 28 December 1949 (USA)
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 »
Reviews

On Disc

at Amazon

Won 4 Oscars. Another 5 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »

Photos

Learn more

More Like This 

The Snake Pit (1948)
Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A detailed chronicle of a woman during her stay in a mental institution.

Director: Anatole Litvak
Stars: Olivia de Havilland, Mark Stevens, Leo Genn
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

An unwed mother, forced to give up her child to avoid scandal, follows her son's life from afar even as she prospers in business.

Director: Mitchell Leisen
Stars: Olivia de Havilland, John Lund, Mary Anderson
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

The ruthless, moneyed Hubbard clan lives in, and poisons, their part of the deep South at the turn of the twentieth century.

Director: William Wyler
Stars: Bette Davis, Herbert Marshall, Teresa Wright
Certificate: Passed Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A poor boy gets a job working for his rich uncle and ends up falling in love with two women.

Director: George Stevens
Stars: Montgomery Clift, Elizabeth Taylor, Shelley Winters
The Letter (1940)
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

The wife of a rubber plantation administrator shoots a man to death and claims it was self-defense, but a letter in her own hand may prove her undoing.

Director: William Wyler
Stars: Bette Davis, Herbert Marshall, James Stephenson
Jezebel (1938)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

In 1850s Louisiana, a free-spirited Southern belle loses her fiancé due to her stubborn vanity and pride, and vows to win him back.

Director: William Wyler
Stars: Bette Davis, Henry Fonda, George Brent
The Search (1948)
Certificate: Passed Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

In post-war Berlin, an American private helps a lost Czech boy find his mother.

Director: Fred Zinnemann
Stars: Montgomery Clift, Ivan Jandl, Aline MacMahon
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A letter is addressed to three wives from their "best friend" Addie Ross, announcing that she is running away with one of their husbands...but she does not say which one.

Director: Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Stars: Jeanne Crain, Linda Darnell, Ann Sothern
Dodsworth (1936)
Certificate: Passed Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A retired auto manufacturer and his wife take a long-planned European vacation only to find that they want very different things from life.

Director: William Wyler
Stars: Walter Huston, Ruth Chatterton, Paul Lukas
Certificate: Passed Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A hard-working mother inches towards disaster as she divorces her husband and starts a successful restaurant business to support her spoiled daughter.

Director: Michael Curtiz
Stars: Joan Crawford, Jack Carson, Zachary Scott
Now, Voyager (1942)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A frumpy spinster blossoms under therapy and becomes an elegant, independent woman.

Director: Irving Rapper
Stars: Bette Davis, Paul Henreid, Claude Rains
Drama | Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

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.

Director: Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Stars: Elizabeth Taylor, Katharine Hepburn, Montgomery Clift
Edit

Cast

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

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 truly great motion picture (one-sheet) See more »

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
Edit

Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | French

Release Date:

28 December 1949 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Die Erbin See more »

Edit

Box Office

Budget:

$2,600,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Paramount Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

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). See more »

Goofs

In the scene in the rain, Catherine takes Morris' cloak off herself and wraps it around him. After the next cut the cloak is missing, then in the following closeup it reappears and Catherine buttons it around Morris' neck. See more »

Quotes

Austin Sloper: [Referring to Catherine] How is it possible to protect such a willing victim?
Aunt Penniman: You will kill her if you deny her this marriage.
Austin Sloper: You forget I'm a doctor. People don't die of such things.
See more »

Connections

Version of Washington Square (1997) See more »

Soundtracks

Plaisir d'amour (The Joys of Love)
(1780) (uncredited)
Written by Johann Martini and Jean-Pierre Claris de Florian
Performed by Montgomery Clift
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

Breathtaking
9 April 2004 | by jemmyteeSee 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.


92 of 104 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 126 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Stream Trending TV Series With Prime Video

Explore popular and recently added TV series available to stream now with Prime Video.

Start your free trial



Recently Viewed