The Heiress - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Heiress Reviews

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Super Reviewer
March 7, 2019
Outstanding production values and an overall sterling example of what a monumental team effort a good film truly is, from the bottom to the top, excellence abounds in this pre-Civil War depiction of a societal ugly duckling (who's not really ugly) who comes under the thrall of a dashing young swain. Monty Clift and Miriam Hopkins both deliver nuanced performances that sharpen the gist of the piece, and Ralph Richardson as the caring father blinded by grief is memorable, but Olivia DeHavilland's Oscar-winning performance as an innocent who discovers the corruption around her is indeed all around her is unforgettable. Hollywood in all its splendor, and that's meant in a good way.
March 3, 2019
Adapted from Henry James‚(TM) Washington Square (1880, but set in the 1840s) for the stage and subsequently this film, directed by William Wyler. Olivia de Havilland plays Catherine Sloper, an awkward young woman who has inherited money from her deceased mother and is due to come into a large fortune from her father, a doctor played by Ralph Richardson. Given her shyness and poor social graces (undoubtedly a product of her father‚(TM)s glorification of her mother and disdain for her in comparison), she has had no suitors...until Morris Townsend (Montgomery Clift) appears to sweep her off her feet (aided and abetted by her widowed aunt played by Miriam Hopkins). Unfortunately, despite his charm and good looks, he has squandered whatever small inheritance he once had and thus garners the doctor‚(TM)s displeasure. Indeed, Dr Sloper quickly surmises that Townsend is nothing more than a fortune hunter, seeking his daughter‚(TM)s hand only because of her money. However, whether it is the screenplay, Wyler‚(TM)s direction or the acting by de Havilland (Best Actress), Richardson, and Clift (the latter with a jarring accent and method technique), we spend much of the film balanced on the edge of the proverbial knife, not knowing for sure whether Townsend really does love Catherine (as she so dearly wishes) or whether he is indeed mercenary (it is very easy to suspect the latter ‚" but he is very charming). Aaron Copland‚(TM)s Oscar-winning score (perhaps tinkered with by the production team) is strange ‚" both minimalist and heavily accented by swelling strings ‚" its intrusiveness actually enhanced the picture. As things play out, we remain on Catherine‚(TM)s side, wanting and yearning for her to have things work out as they should ‚" and of course, in the end, they finally do. In the end, that‚(TM)s satisfying but it is the tension derived from the ambiguity surrounding Morris‚(TM)s love and the difficulty of knowing whether to choose truth or deception (when either one or the other might actually prove more beneficial for Catherine) that really elevates the film to something special.
March 3, 2019
A young naive woman falls for a handsome young man who her emotionally abusive father suspects is a fortune hunter.Stars: Olivia de Havilland, Montgomery Clift, Ralph Richardson.
Academy Awards, USA 1950 Winner
Oscar : Best Actress in a Leading Role Olivia de Havilland !!

Superlative version of the James novel sharpens and refines the book. Olivia, always a fine actress, gives one of her defining performances revealing the many layers of Catherine during her evolution from doormat to bruised and wary but empowered woman. Clift gives a sly performance, his natural beauty aiding in the belief that he could be a rake living off his looks. Sir Ralph Richardson is simply great as the thoughtlessly cruel father, hinting that in his own obtuse way he has no understanding of what he thinks of as protecting his daughter is actually crippling her and his malice towards her something he doesn't comprehend. An underrated CLASSIC from director William Wyler. Though it had a poor box office upon its release, it eventually became recognized as a masterpiece.
½ January 17, 2019
Finely crafted. De Havilland will melt your screen in the last scene.
October 16, 2018
My god...I LOVE this film!!! Based on Henry James' Washington Square, THE HEIRESS is a tribute to William Wyler's genius (and I am not using the word, genius, lightly) with Olivia De Havilland and Miriam Hopkins giving the best performances of their career. The BRILLIANTBRILLIANTBRILLIANT performance by Ralph Richardson as the father is on e of the reasons he is still one of my top five favorite actors. (and Mr Monty Clift sure is pretty!)
½ October 8, 2018
Its a sad film. I wanted to like this one more and I must say the beginning set up was great, but I didn't really enjoy the ending. I could relate a lot to the main character in the beginning when I was younger-naÔve, unconfident, shy, and in desperate need of a makeover lol. The father in this movie was overly critical and would unfairly compare her to her dead mother. However, at least he protected her from marrying that vile POS n while it may have crushed her soul a bit she shouldn't have held a grudge on him for that when he was dying. The ending was overdramatic and the best revenge would've been to just move on and find someone who would love her for her vs. playing his childish games. It was like a crappier n campier coming to age movie of someone who is betrayed like Sense & Sensibility, the Reader, An Education, Diary of a Teenage Girl.....etc. I will say the acting, particularly of the main character was subtle and amazing, the script was also well done and in the beginning guessing whether his intentions were true or not kept my interest.
Antonius Block
Super Reviewer
September 25, 2018
A plain young woman in Manhattan towards the end of the 19th century (Oliva de Havilland) suffers from painful social awkwardness. Her wealthy father (Ralph Richardson) is a widower, and with memories of his beautiful and graceful wife in his mind, feels disappointment in his daughter. Enter Montgomery Clift, a young man without money or an occupation, who sees the good in her, and begins courting her. The father fears he is in it for the money, but the young man is steadfastly earnest in his protestations of true affection. Her aunt (Miriam Hopkins, who was so nice to see) tries to mediate between everyone involved.

I loved how Olivia de Havilland was made up to fit the part, unlike some of the other films I've seen where she's the 'plain one' but looks extraordinary (she is Oliva de Havilland, after all). Here, with her hair matted down into a helmet and her eyelashes thickened, she almost resembles Alfalfa from the old Little Rascals show in some of her scenes. More importantly, she acts the part, with what feels like authentically painful shyness. To see her character grow over the course of the movie, with de Havilland masterful at each stage, is wonderful. One can really see why she earned the second of her two Oscars with this performance.

The exchanges between Richardson and Clift, father and potential son-in-law, are fantastic. I just love the eloquent way they speak, expressing their viewpoints and emotions candidly, but always politely, even if pointedly. We really don't know how it's going to play out, and I won't spoil it, except to say that it's brilliant, especially the ending. There is such depth of emotion here, and the film highlights those moments in life where everything may pivot based on a few actions or comments. The themes of love, trust, acceptance of another's shortcomings, and supporting them just the same are all in play here. The film shows the damage one can do by being too blunt with one's (truthful) candor, in addition to that done by the opposite, being deceitful. Director William Wyler never lets up, and what may sound like a staid, potentially boring story is anything but that; it flies by in its 115 minute run time.
July 1, 2018
Olivia De Havilland gives one of the best screen performances of all time. Ralph Richardson is perfect as her cruel father. This is a masterpiece ending to a glorious film.
April 18, 2018
All characters were wonderful in this movie, Olivia de Havilland well deserving of a second oscar. Ralph Richardson was brillant as the harsh father. Miriam Hopkins was fabulous cast as aunt Lavinia. Montgomery Clift was good to avg in this movie but good enough to make his character believeable. Overall, "The Heiress", remains my favorite movie of all time. Also Olivia as my favorite actress of all time.
February 10, 2018
Olivia is at her best, but it's a sad subject. 1001 movies to see before you die.
December 19, 2017
Great movie ,incredible acting the likes of which we never see from today's actors.This is a dark movie , in which we see the transformation of an innocent happy young girl , into a cynical lonely woman when she realises she was not loved by her father and that it is only because of her money that any man would show interest in her.
October 10, 2017
New York, 1840s. Dr. Austin Sloper, a widower, is a wealthy man. He has one child - Catherine, who is in her 20s. Socially withdrawn and awkward, her father and her aunt, Lavinia, encourage her to be more outgoing and sociable but she seems content to spend her time embroidering. Then, at a party she meets young, handsome and almost penniless Morris Townsend. They get along very well and soon he is calling on her. In a very short space of time they are engaged to be married. Dr. Sloper believes Townsend is just after Catherine's sizable inheritance and refuses to bless the marriage. Furthermore, he threatens to cut Catherine out of his will. This puts a strain on not only the father-daughter relationship but also the Catherine-Townsend relationship.

Great drama, directed by William Wyler. Highly engaging, with some great character depth and development and interesting plot. Quite intriguing too, as you wonder whether Townsend is just in it for the money. Some interesting themes and a good exploration of relationships.

Some good twists along the way, especially towards the end, making for an enthralling movie. Clever, punchy, profound ending.

Superb performances by Olivia De Havilland as Catherine, Montgomery Clift as Townsend and Ralph Richardson as Dr. Sloper. De Havilland won the 1950 Best Actress Oscar and Richardson was nominated for Best Supporting Actor. Clift was not nominated but gives a great reminder of his considerable talent.
June 21, 2017
An outstanding film! Very true to the book with stellar performances by Clift, Richardson and Hopkins, yet it is deHavilland that is a tour de force. Can watch it again and again!
½ May 4, 2017
The Heiress is definitely rushed and over-the-top in its third act, but still featuring a very interesting and unpredictable turn of events. It is such a well told and relevant story imbued by excellent direction and of course terrific performances from Montgomery Clift who is admirably subtle in his role, Olivia de Havilland who is phenomenal and deserved her Oscar and even Ralph Richardson who shouldn't be forgotten as he wonderfully acted the most fascinating character in the film.
½ October 20, 2016
Did Catherine even have anyone normal around her to understand and help her?Seriously. Anw. The story is a bit stretched out but it is a wholesome drama.
August 13, 2016
another lost review!!
July 15, 2016
I'm not quite as enamored with this film as everyone else it seems. though I certainly admit the acting by the leads is memorable, though I would have preferred Errol Flynn in the gold digger role. Why did he turn it down? I dislike all the characters in the end and it seems degrading to make the truly glorious Olivia De Haviland into a plain, even ugly character.
April 18, 2016
Olivia de Havilland stars in an adaptation of Ruth & Augustus Goetz's play, in turn adapted from Henry James's novel "Washington Square". De Havilland is a wealthy society girl who lacks the social graces necessary to attract society boys. Her father, Ralph Richardson, has all but abandoned the notion of marrying her off. Along comes young Montgomery Clift who takes a shining to de Havilland and woos her aggressively. Marriage is offered and accepted, but Richardson bitterly opposes it thinking Clift to be only after their money ... this leads to a series of rather stunning betrayals. I love this film. Wyler made this during his artistic peak and it shows. Clift is coming off his breakthrough role in "Red River" and is in top form. He apparently bitterly disliked de Havilland and her Hollywood acting style, but it doesn't show.
December 14, 2015
A perfect, intelligent film.
½ June 16, 2015
What a soul crushing film. Did not expect that!
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