The Heiress

Struck from the 1947 play of the same name, which was in turn drawn from Henry James’s Washington Square—James did pen so much of the best fodder for adaptations—The Heiress exemplifies the Hollywood adaptation at its best. Catherine Sloper (Olivia de Havilland, in a virtuosic and heartbreaking turn) is the unwed daughter of a widowed father (a loving yet painfully condescending Ralph Richardson), who falls wildly in love with man her father does not approve of. Wyler sees the nuanced and complex Catherine incur the scars of disappointment, as she transforms from anxiety ridden and hopeful to bitter and broken, in what may be the pinnacle of pre-method, old Hollywood acting. Forget Breaking Bad, this is the real deal—Walter White doesn’t have an inch on Catherine Sloper.

Dir. William Wyler, 1949, 35mm, 115 min.

Preceded by Alone. Life Wastes Andy Hardy
Dir. Martin Arnold, 1998, 16mm, 15 min.

Watch the Cinefamily original trailer!