The Heiress (1949)

William Wyler directs Olivia de Havilland, Montgomery Clift and Ralph Richardson in this adaptation of a Henry James novel where a dowdy young lady of good fortune is romanced by a dashing suitor.

An interiors flick. I can’t be making too many excuses for something that feels very much like a filmed stage play… yet maybe Wyler’s reasoning for not opening the story up is to show the cloistered, choiceless environment of de Havilland’s Catherine Sloper. She is a caged bird. The extended epilogue feels suitably grim and tragic… yet maybe the ultimate message is all of us, no matter how unremarkable, deserve their chance to love, even if said chance is a mercenary expedition, otherwise we harden to romance. Clift’s motivations, whether predatory or genuine, are never revealed… somewhere in between is my interpretation… and because of that mystery, the film sings.


Perfect Double Bill: Daisy Miller (1974)

My wife and I do a podcast together called The Worst Movies We Own. It is available on Spotify or here


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