The Heiress


The Heiress

Critics Consensus

No consensus yet.



Total Count: 12


Audience Score

User Ratings: 3,017
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Movie Info

In this film, Catherine Sloper is the plain-Jane daughter of a wealthy widower. Catherine is not only unattractive but lacks most of the social graces. When Catherine falls in love with handsome young Morris Townsend, she believes her love is reciprocated, why else would Morris be so affectionate towards her?


Olivia de Havilland
as Catherine Sloper
Montgomery Clift
as Morris Townsend
Ralph Richardson
as Dr. Austin Sloper
Miriam Hopkins
as Lavinia Penniman
Mona Freeman
as Marian Almond
Ray Collins
as Jefferson Almond
Betty Linley
as Mrs. Mongomery
Selena Royle
as Elizabeth Almond
Paul Lees
as Arthur Townsend
Harry Antrim
as Mr. Abeel
Russ Conway
as Quintus
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Critic Reviews for The Heiress

All Critics (12) | Top Critics (1) | Fresh (12)

Audience Reviews for The Heiress

  • Mar 03, 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.
    Kevin M. W Super Reviewer
  • Sep 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.
    Antonius B Super Reviewer
  • Oct 10, 2013
    Fantastic little drama about marriage for money and how love interferes with the best laid plans. The cast is solid and they deliver an intelligent performance.
    John B Super Reviewer
  • Aug 20, 2011
    The Heiress is one of the most cynical, heartless and cold films in history - and I mean that in the best way possible. What starts out as a very passionate romance soon leads to a very cold-hearted, compelling drama. I usually am not fond of period pieces, especially ones about wealthy people (since I find it hard to feel sorrow for them), and I've never actually been impressed by a William Wyler film enough to give it any more than an 80%, but The Heiress is an exception to both rules. Like Bette Davis, Olivia De Havilland isn't exactly what you would call a "classic beauty" in the same sense as Rita Hayworth or Marilyn Monroe, but she makes up for that with her awe-inspiring talents as an actress. The Heiress, which she won her second Academy Award for, displays De Havilland at her all-time best, proving herself to be one of the most talented actresses of the Golden Age. Montgomery Clift's performance is a little stale, but supporting actors Miriam Hopkins and Ralph Richardson's performances surely compensate for Clift's shortcomings. That, combined with a razor sharp script, filled with many interesting plot twists, makes for a very memorable film.
    Brandon W Super Reviewer

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