In this 1949 dramatization of Henry James's Washington Square
, Olivia de Havilland is the plain but presentable spinster who lives with her domineering father (Ralph Richardson). What she lacks in looks she makes up for in wealth, and soon finds herself the object of much attention by Montgomery Clift. At the heart of this drama is the question of his possibly mercenary agenda. De Havilland does not seem to care one way or the other, but her father cannot believe any man would love her for any reason but her wealth.
This version does not stray too far from the novel. It is a masterpiece that reveals both suppressed anger within a family and the suppression of women in the 19th century. De Havilland, all simmering desire and controlled rage, won an Oscar for best supporting actress, and Aaron Copland copped one for best score. It is no surprise that this handsome picture was also awarded Oscars for costume design and art direction. It was remade and updated with an oddly feminist twist in 1997under the novel's original title. --Rochelle O'Gorman
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.