Directed with a keen sense of ambiguity by William Wyler (The Best Years of Our Lives), this film based on a hit stage adaptation of Henry James’s Washington Square pivots on a question of motive.
When shy, fragile Catherine Sloper (Olivia De Havilland, in a heart- breaking, Oscar-winning turn), the daughter of a wealthy New York doctor, begins to receive calls from the handsome spendthrift Morris Townsend (Montgomery Clift), she becomes possessed by the promise of romance. Are his smouldering professions of love sincere, as she believes they are? Or is Catherine’s calculating father (Ralph Richardson) correct in judging Morris a venal fortune seeker?
A graceful drawing room drama boasting Academy Award–winning costume design by Edith Head (Roman Holiday), The Heiress is also a piercing character study riven by emotional uncertainty and lacerating cruelty, in a triumph of classic Hollywood filmmaking at its most psychologically nuanced.
New, restored 4K digital transfer, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack
New conversation between screenwriter Jay Cocks and film critic Farran Smith Nehme
New programme about the film’s costumes featuring costume collector and historian Larry McQueen
The Costume Designer, a restored 1950 short film featuring costume designer Edith Head
Appearance by actor Olivia de Havilland on a 1979 episode of The Paul Ryan Show
Excerpts from a 1973 tribute to director William Wyler on The Merv Griffin Show, featuring Wyler, de Havilland, and actors Bette Davis and Walter Pidgeon
Wyler’s acceptance speech from the American Film Institute’s 1976 Salute to William Wyler
Interview with actor Ralph Richardson filmed in 1981 for the documentary Directed by William Wyler