Best Movies by Farr
The Heiress Poster
Released Runtime Category
1949 115 Drama, Romance
Director Language
William Wyler English
Olivia de Havilland, Montgomery Clift, Ralph Richardson

The Heiress

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What's it About

Socially awkward, plain-looking heiress Catherine Sloper (De Havilland) wants to marry dashing, penniless suitor Morris Townshend (Clift), but her tyrannical widower father, Dr. Austin Sloper (Richardson), smells a gold-digging rat, and threatens to cut off Catherine's inheritance if she elopes. Is Dr. Sloper coldly ruining his daughter's only chance for happiness, or is he protecting her from the get-rich scheme of a disingenuous lover?

Why we love it

Widely hailed as a masterpiece, and boasting an Oscar-winning performance from Olivia De Havilland, Wyler's powerful and haunting drama was adapted from Henry James's novel, "Washington Square." De Havilland's transformation from dutiful and docile daughter into a grown-up who thinks for herself is one of the great rewards of seeing this film; Richardson shines, too, as an overbearing man who nevertheless feels conflicted about blocking Catherine's right to decide her own future. With a splendid score by Aaron Copland, majestic costumes by Edith Head, and Wyler's mastery of psychological tension, "The Heiress" is a Hollywood treasure.

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BEST MOVIES BY FARR is your personal guide to great movies to rent, stream, or buy; to watch at home or on-the-go. Led by film advocate John Farr, the Best Movies by Farr team works as a "quality filter" for the discerning moviegoer. Every day, we bring you the best of the best, the fantastic familiar films and hidden gems, to answer that age-old question: "What should we watch tonight?"