The Heiress is set in the late 1840s, largely in the opulent New York townhouse of Dr Austin Sloper (Ralph Richardson in his first Hollywood performance). Sloper idolises his dead wife and cruelly dismisses his doting daughter Catherine (Olivia de Havilland) as inferior in every respect: she’s awkward, plain and shy in company. In consequence, he encourages his widowed sister Lavinia Penniman (Miriam Hopkins), who has recently joined the household, to coach Catherine in the social graces.
At a family engagement party Catherine meets the dashing but penniless Morris Townsend (a young Montgomery Clift in only his third film). Morris starts to pay court to Catherine and soon declares his love for her. Catherine, supported by her romantically-inclined aunt, feels she’s found the man of her dreams, and the pair make plans to marry. But Dr Sloper is suspicious of Morris’s whirlwind proposal. He thinks the young man is after his daughter’s inheritance and refuses his consent…
James Kendrick on Qnetwork wrote:
William Wyler’s The Heiress is an exemplar of ambiguous storytelling – perhaps one of the greatest in all of classical Hollywood cinema…Even though it is set in the genteel 19th-century world of wealth and privilege, it is a film fraught with the violence of animosity, disappointment, and manipulation, with characters constantly pitted against each other in a struggle for control. The film works so well because those surging emotional currents, although often pushed just below the surface, give it a constant tension that draws you in like a thriller. Catherine is one of the great screen characters of that era, a compelling woman whose loneliness makes her sympathetic and later vindictiveness makes her tragic. The Heiress is, if anything, a film about a victim who finally decides to be a victim no longer, although its most powerful twist is ensuring that we never know for sure what the cost of that transformation has been.
5.80B | 1 h 55 min | 986×720 | mkv
Subtitles:English, English SDH, Portuguese, Spanish