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
I had the pleasure to watch again "The Heiress" 1949 movie tonight, and it is absolutely brilliant! ; what a gem! the script, the directing, set designs, lighting, but above all the acting, are all extraordinary. The performances by the three main characters are simply superb. Olivia De Haviland is utterly convincing in her transition from a, not so young, unwanted and unloved woman, into 3 different phases of her personality as the plot unfolds ; all her acting is beautiful. Montgomery Cliff delivers a great performance and mastery at portraying deceit with a charming smile. Ralph Richardson commands respect and holds an air of definite authority as Catherine's father. His aristocratic demeanor is also very well portrayed for a prominent New York gentleman of the late 1800's. The human tragedy of miscommunication between beings unfolds with impeccable timing. The film by today standards may be considered as slow, but underneath is found a study of characters that runs very deeply. The contrast between the real Love and the pretense is striking. You cannot help but feel sorry for the way the characters are held captives to a set of stiff conventions and untold feelings. A human tragedy at its best.
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