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Heiress

Olivia de Havilland , Montgomery Clift , William Wyler    NR (Not Rated)   DVD
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 14.99 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25. Details
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Academy Award winner Olivia De Havilland and Montgomery Clift light up the screen in this spellbinding, landmark drama. De Havilland is Catherine Sloper, an aristocratic young woman living under the scrutiny of her malevolent father. When a handsome but penniless suitor proposes, her father believes he could only be after her vast estate and threatens disinheritance. Can she be rich in love and money? Based on the stage version of Henry James' renowned novel Washington Square, this is the "****" (Leonard Maltin) winner of four Academy Awards, featuring an all-new, digitally remastered picture. A masterpiece of love, deception and betrayal, The Heiress remains a shining example of a true cinematic achievement.

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Watch closely Jan. 21 2004
Format:VHS Tape
"The Heiress" is William Wyler's screen adaptation of Henry James' novella, "Washington Square." For a modern viewer trained to seek out heros and villains in any story the structure of this film might be summarized thus: The insecure and none too bright young woman played by Olivia de Havilland does eventually get it through her thick skull that her father (played by Ralph Richardson) has a deep-seated contempt for her and that her suitor (played by Montgomery Clift) is after nothing but her fortune. Newly armed with this knowledge she is able to see her father's threat to disinherit her as the bluff it is and call him on it, and to close the door on Montgomery Clift's advances. Someone inclined to see the movie this way would thrill to our heroine's triumph over the two villainous men in her life while reserving a little sadness for the fact that she's resigned herself to a life of spinsterhood.
The film is well worth watching even if you choose to read the film this way because the performances by the three principal actors are a beauty to behold (de Havilland won an Oscar for her performance) and Wyler's cinematic story telling techniques are so accomplished. For instance, watch Ralph Richardson open and close those pocket doors between rooms. It lets Wyler move seamlessly from cut to cut while appearing to maintain the flow of a long scene while at the same time suggesting Richardson's controlling nature.
But a more careful look at the Clift and de Havilland characters is what gives this film the richness and subtlety of a five star movie. In the opening minutes of the film we see a short interchange between de Havilland and a servant in the household which reveals de Havilland to have a clever sense of humor.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'Bolt the Door, Maria!' Feb. 23 2003
Format:VHS Tape
THE HEIRESS is a surprisingly complex drama of paternal brutality, starry-eyed love, and bitter revenge. Director William Wyler adapted Henry James' short novel WASHINGTON SQUARE and during the film's nearly two hours managed to convey the collision of conflicting dreams. Each of the three major characters: Ralph Richardson as Doctor Sloper, Olivia de Havilland as his dowdy daughter Catherine Sloper, and Montgomery Clift as the mercenary Morris Townsend all dance a three-partnered minuet in which emotional ties clasp and unclasp in ways that are suggested more by gentle innuendo than by overt deed. Doctor Sloper is a uncaring brute who rules his house with vicious wit and the threat of withheld inheritance. To him, there are two kinds of men: those who have already made their mark in the world (like him) and those who have not (like Morris) but seek to obtain it deceitfully through marriage to plain but rich women (like Catherine). The more Sloper puts Catherine down with harsh barbs, the more he increases the inevitability that Catherine will someday rebel by latching onto the first glib male golddigger, thereby proving himself right all along. Sloper's problem is that his paternal tunnel vision does not allow the possibility that Catherine might be more than a one-dimensional stick figure forever doomed to spinsterhood. For Catherine, life is a gilded cage, plenty of the physical necessities, but not a whit of the emotional ones. The more she is starved for affection, the more she will reach out even to those men like Morris who are likely mercenary. One of the film's bitter ironies is that her father's oft repeated warnings about Morris's motivations might yet be valid. Read more ›
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5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful Feb. 1 2003
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
Olivia de Havilland gives a great performance as Catherine, a young, naive, trusting, love-hungry heiress. She meets Morris, a good-looking young fellow who seems to be enamored of her. Catherine's father doesn't believe Morris's feelings are genuine and talks Catherine into a trip to Europe to forget him. It doesn't work and they return home. Her father threatens to disinherit her if she marries Morris. Catherine basically tells him to stuff it. She'll marry who she pleases and she doesn't want anything more to do with him. Unfortunately, she told Morris she was cutting her father out of her life, and didn't want his money. Morris takes off for parts unknown leaving Catherine waiting up all night for him to wisk her off to be married.
Did Morris really love Catherine and ran away because he didn't want her to disinherit herself? Or, was he really a gold-digger out for her money? Catherine grows to hate her father after Morris runs out on her. What her father told her had come true, or seemed to. She hated him for that. And she hated Morris for validating what her father had told her.
Catherine develops a hardness. She has become wiser, but not happier. She is no longer anyone's fool. Great ending.
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5.0 out of 5 stars "I have been taught...by masters." Aug. 14 2002
By Kona TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:VHS Tape
It's a tour de force for Olivia de Havilland as she plays Catherine Sloper, the mousey, naïve daughter of a wealthy doctor (Ralph Richardson) in 19th century New York. Catherine has grown up with her father telling her how clumsy and unattractive she is compared to her late mother, so when a dashing, though penniless, young man (Montgomery Clift) comes to call, she falls head over heels. Big mistake.

De Havilland rightly won Best Actress of 1950, for her stunning portrayal of the meek and frightened girl who, older and wiser, becomes a steely and confident woman. Everything about her changes in the transformation, from her posture to her voice, and above all, her inner bearing. She's unforgettable. Richardson is also superb as the cruel father and Clift is perfectly cast as the oily suitor.

The magnificent gowns and detailed sets capture the period beautifully and the literate script overflows with memorable lines about harm done in the name of love. This is a stunning movie that can be enjoyed again and again.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great movie but
Fantastic movie. I saw it years ago and the ending still gives me chills but i haven't bought the dvd because the description says it's portuguese with french subtitles. Read more
Published on March 20 2012 by Mila
5.0 out of 5 stars exceptional
The Heiress is a timeless classic and well worth the watch. It shows Olivia de Havelland and Montgomery Clift at their best. Read more
Published on Oct. 6 2011 by Lorraine Adams
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Old Movies - You Can't Beat Them
If you love old movies, this is for you!!! The perfomances by Olivia De Havilland and Montgomery Clift are amazing. Read more
Published on July 7 2007 by caseygirl
5.0 out of 5 stars In the hands of a skilled playwright...
Henry James' _Washington Square_ is a much better story- don't bother reading the novel, you will certainly be disappointed! Read more
Published on June 7 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
Olivia de Havilland perfectly captures the character of Catherine Sloper from Henry James' book Washington Square. Read more
Published on Jan. 7 2003 by Nina D.
5.0 out of 5 stars Perhaps one of the finest screen performances ever
The recent unsatisfying film adaptation of James' WASHINGTON SQUARE starring Jennifer Jason-Leigh only shows how wise William Wyler was to film the Goetz's stage version rather... Read more
Published on July 1 2002 by Jay Dickson
5.0 out of 5 stars "Just About As Good As It Gets"
This film in its acting, direction, photography, and musical score is sheer perfection. The elegant haughtiness and razor-sharp wit of Ralph Richardson as Dr. Read more
Published on May 4 2002 by Stanley H. Nemeth
5.0 out of 5 stars "I Can Be Very Cruel--I Have Been Taught by Masters"
One of the best lines in this adaptation of Henry James's novella, "Washington Square", uttered by Catherine (Olivia de Havilland) to her Aunt Lavinia (Miriam Hopkins). Read more
Published on Aug. 20 2001 by Linda McDonnell
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent
I own this video. I have watched it many, many times. I enjoyed the old world viewing. The most interested part ofcourse it Olivia de Havilland changes her character in the finally... Read more
Published on Aug. 13 2001 by Frances Pruestel
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