974 The Heiress

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swo17
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974 The Heiress

#1 Post by swo17 » Fri Feb 15, 2019 5:31 pm

The Heiress

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Directed with a keen sense of ambiguity by William Wyler, 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 heartbreaking, 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 smoldering 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, 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.

SPECIAL FEATURES

• New, restored 4K digital transfer, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
• New conversation between screenwriter Jay Cocks and film critic Farran Smith Nehme
• New program 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
• Trailer
• PLUS: An essay by critic Pamela Hutchinson

KJones77
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Re: 974 The Heiress

#2 Post by KJones77 » Fri Feb 15, 2019 5:49 pm

Great year for Olivia de Havilland fans between this and The Snake Pit finally coming to blu.

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whaleallright
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Re: 974 The Heiress

#3 Post by whaleallright » Fri Feb 15, 2019 7:42 pm

Given that she's 102 years old(!!), every year is a great year for Olivia de Havilland herself!

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britcom68
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Re: 974 The Heiress

#4 Post by britcom68 » Sat Feb 16, 2019 7:30 am

Looking forward to Jay Cocks's thoughts about Age of Innocence in comparison to this film, hope that that interview also touches on Polanski's Tess, or Schlesinger's Far from the Madding Crowd.

A former teaching colleague of mine used to cite The Heiress and 1944's Gaslight as good early film examples showing the effects of victimization in domestic spousal abuse. Of course there were examples that existed long before them, but were either too melodramatic or not always showing characters reacting or drawing the characters as fleshed-out in believable ways, from the psychological-DSM perspective that is. When she was teaching abnormal psychology and got into borderline personality disorder, she would spin off into discussions about the imbalance of gender power which historically existed in marriages, at least traditional structures of marriage before the cultural attitude changes in the 1960s, and how that imbalance would contribute to any underlying pre-existing psychological issues. Although I always argued that in the Heiress they did not marry so it cannot truly be considered "spousal" abuse from the legal sense, I see her point, it is a good character study showing how easy it is for a victim to keep making excuses for their (potential) partner's behaviors and engaging in harmful self-delusional thought processes. Frankly, I am surprised that in this era of "Me Too" awareness there was not any inclusion in this release, so far, of something specifically addressing the titular character as she relates to that topic. (Of course as a now-retired social studies teacher, maybe I am just wanting to affirm that one can analyze The Heiress from that perspective).

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knives
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Re: 974 The Heiress

#5 Post by knives » Sat Feb 16, 2019 9:29 pm

britcom68 wrote:
Sat Feb 16, 2019 7:30 am
Looking forward to Jay Cocks's thoughts about Age of Innocence in comparison to this film, hope that that interview also touches on Polanski's Tess, or Schlesinger's Far from the Madding Crowd.
Wouldn't Holland's (superior) Washington Square make the most sense in terms of comparison? Actually, it would probably be more interesting to hear Carol Doyle's thoughts, but I guess she's not as cool as Cocks.

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schellenbergk
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Re: 974 The Heiress

#6 Post by schellenbergk » Fri Feb 22, 2019 2:47 pm

Maybe I'm alone here - but I'm a little disappointed that there are no extras devoted to Aaron Copland. He's a major American composer - and it jsut seems odd to devote an extra to costume designs while overlooking his involvement,

Even though he won an Oscar for this film, my understanding is that the score was largely re-written because the director hated it? Maybe there's a story there waiting to be told.

Seems like a missed opportunity.

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whaleallright
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Re: 974 The Heiress

#7 Post by whaleallright » Fri Feb 22, 2019 3:10 pm

Here's something from Film Score Monthly about it: https://wordsofnote.wordpress.com/articles/heiress/

Wyler messed with Copland's main title music ( someone else's arrangement of "Plaisir d'amour" was inserted into it), and replaced one of his cues in a key scene (again to accommodate a restatement of "Plaisir d'amour"), but the score was not substantially "re-written."

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FrauBlucher
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Re: 974 The Heiress

#8 Post by FrauBlucher » Thu Mar 07, 2019 10:05 pm

This was on TCM earlier in week. I just watched it for the first time. OMG.. What a tour de force by the actors! I was blown away. Olivia de Havilland impressed the crap out of me. The Ralph Richardson/Monty Clift tete a tete was brilliant.

As for the score... I kept hearing the melody of Presley's "I Can't Help Falling in Love with You." You have to wonder if it was borrowed from the score of the film.

It'll be fun to hear folks' take on this after the CC release.

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ianthemovie
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Re: 974 The Heiress

#9 Post by ianthemovie » Fri Mar 08, 2019 12:01 am

FrauBlucher wrote:
Thu Mar 07, 2019 10:05 pm
This was on TCM earlier in week. I just watched it for the first time. OMG.. What a tour de force by the actors! I was blown away. Olivia de Havilland impressed the crap out of me. The Ralph Richardson/Monty Clift tete a tete was brilliant.

As for the score... I kept hearing the melody of Presley's "I Can't Help Falling in Love with You." You have to wonder if it was borrowed from the score of the film.
Yes, isn't it great? A superb classic Hollywood film and one that does justice to the devastating ironies of the James text.

I believe the song is "Plaisir d'Amour," a traditional French song which was later adapted by Presley, just as the traditional "Aura Lee" became "Love Me Tender."

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Randall Maysin
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Re: 974 The Heiress

#10 Post by Randall Maysin » Fri Mar 08, 2019 8:01 am

Love this movie.
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It's so goddamn depressing, in such a pitiful, dreary, everyday sort of way. I love the way it just leaves the viewer with nothing, but a "powerful", "real" nothing.
Just wonderful. As much as de Havilland and Richardson are brilliant and perfect, in some ways Monty Clift is just as impressive...perverse, I know. This is a role that really has no conventional rewards or 'glory' for an actor at all, and Clift is selfless and brilliant enough to first and foremost, just know exactly what this role needs and try his best to do it. This is a performance that in even slightly lesser hands would be wooden and boring in the extreme, and the roles lack of conventional rewards is such that many seem to think that Clift is just those two things. The movie is just not 'about' his character, and he's not 'interesting', and has, IIRC, no scene where he really makes contact with an audience in any way, no obviousness, he's just sort of quietly there, and yet Clift IIRC inhabits him so subtly and dedicatedly.
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The will of this character and performance is all shamelessness and claws, perfectly at one with his blandness and innocuous blue-bloodedness. He's like a boring zombie who sniffs Catherine's money and claws at her door. Clift manages to make Morris's feralness, which is something that I think never really explicitly shows itself in the film, but something you can sense pretty much the whole way through, the most natural, almost humdrum thing in the world, as anonymous, natural, almost innocent-seeming, as a wild animal. He makes these qualities all of a piece in a way that is pretty terrific....if I recall correctly!
The icy and sort of powerfully inert cinematography is also wonderful.
Last edited by Randall Maysin on Fri Mar 08, 2019 3:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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liam fennell
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Re: 974 The Heiress

#11 Post by liam fennell » Fri Mar 08, 2019 10:27 am

I too love this movie, I consider it to be the single greatest studio-era movie I've seen. It just works like crazy, and everything about it is top notch! Story, direction, script, casting, performances, it's all perfectly judged -- and maybe infinitely rewatchable despite being so devastating; it's withstood at least a dozen viewings for me at any rate! I just sink into it; I find The Little Foxes equally inexhaustible, as far as Wyler goes! This Criterion edition's cover art is rather off-putting, but otherwise I'm thrilled it's getting a deluxe release.

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FrauBlucher
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Re: 974 The Heiress

#12 Post by FrauBlucher » Fri Mar 08, 2019 6:53 pm

I can't get this movie out of my head....
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I can't recall a child like character that gets absolutely crushed not once but twice within the same day. It was devastating but in a weird way I don't have strong feelings against Dr Sloper because he is right even though he's harsh or Morris because he is likeable even though his aim is to marry for her money. For me Aunt Lavinia is the one character I have dislike for because she knows what Morris' intentions are and still wanted Catherine to swallow her pain and take Morris back.
The ending was played brilliantly...
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I wasn't sure where de Havilland was taking her character. She was stoic but didn't play it obvious what she was going to do. I thought for a second that she was going to go ahead with the marriage but totally control the relationship and make Morris' life miserable. But once she closed the curtains that was it, that was the sign to me that the door was going to stay shut forever for Morris.
Btw... I do like the art work for the release. The embroidered looking cover makes sense now.

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ianthemovie
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Re: 974 The Heiress

#13 Post by ianthemovie » Fri Mar 08, 2019 7:37 pm

FrauBlucher wrote:
Fri Mar 08, 2019 6:53 pm
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I can't recall a child like character that gets absolutely crushed not once but twice within the same day. It was devastating but in a weird way I don't have strong feelings against Dr Sloper because he is right even though he's harsh or Morris because he is likeable even though his aim is to marry for her money. For me Aunt Lavinia is the one character I have dislike for because she knows what Morris' intentions are and still wanted Catherine to swallow her pain and take Morris back.
And that's why James is probably the greatest writer ever of psychologically complex characters.

tvdp
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Re: 974 The Heiress

#14 Post by tvdp » Fri Mar 08, 2019 9:52 pm

This film has excellent deep focus cinematography. All the actors do a great job too, with de Havilland showing one of the most honest portrayals of an ordinary person withdrawing into interpersonal coldness that I've ever seen.

I wish more films today did the old trick of reaching a crescendo during the final shot and blasting the studio logo as an overlay. Far better than the 'go to black then roll credits three seconds later'. The Favourite would have highly benefited from that approach (the final shot is a crescendo anyways)

Also: Olivia de Havilland IS STILL ALIVE? WHAT?

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Fred Holywell
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Re: 974 The Heiress

#15 Post by Fred Holywell » Wed Apr 17, 2019 3:47 pm

Just came across The Carol Burnett Show spoof of this movie -- The Lady Heir -- from 1975, with guest Roddy McDowall as "Norris Townsley." It's very funny and pretty faithful to the movie's story -- up till the ending.

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FrauBlucher
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Re: 974 The Heiress

#16 Post by FrauBlucher » Wed Apr 17, 2019 8:27 pm

Thanks for posting. I always loved watching her show and her spoofs of Classic Hollywood.

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Re: 974 The Heiress

#17 Post by Apperson » Thu Apr 18, 2019 12:26 pm


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FrauBlucher
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Re: 974 The Heiress

#18 Post by FrauBlucher » Thu Apr 18, 2019 5:17 pm

Wow. Even Gary’s caps look amazing.

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FrauBlucher
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Re: 974 The Heiress

#19 Post by FrauBlucher » Wed May 08, 2019 7:01 am

I had to post this from our very own Chris from his review section of Forum....
I’m just continually blown away by all of these new restorations for these 70+ year old films, which make them look fresh and new. These restorations make these older, fuzzy restorations for releases like Criterion’s House of Games (a film not even half The Heiress’ age) that much more frustrating: House of Games looks old, The Heiress doesn’t. My only point of comparison is the Universal DVD, but that came nowhere near the level of clarity present here and the improvement over that edition is dramatic, a clear night-and-day difference. The image on this edition is so crisp and clean throughout, delivering stunning details and textures within the image, right down to the threading—and even the little fuzzies—on the costumes themselves. The picture never goes soft or fuzzy, and every object is cleanly rendered and defined.

The restoration work is itself near perfect, with the only noticeable issue remaining are very faint and very thin tram lines. I don’t recall any other blemish nor any sort of pulse or fluctuation. The gray scale is gorgeous, with superb contrast, leading to nice whites and rich, deep blacks. The digital presentation is also perfect, retaining a photographic look and rendering the film’s fine grain structure perfectly. This really went well above and beyond what I was expecting.
This is what makes the format so special. Bringing these old films to a new life can't be understated. It also makes me a little sad that if all the original negatives and catalogs of film the studios had at their disposal were kept safe and not lost or destroyed, what might've been. But we should be forever grateful for what we do have.

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dustybooks
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Re: 974 The Heiress

#20 Post by dustybooks » Sun May 12, 2019 2:17 am

I only realized after watching the extract from Wyler's AFI tribute that this is the first Wyler picture in the Collection, including laserdisc, which is quite surprising. I enjoyed the supplements -- Olivia de Havilland was quite a lively interview -- but seeing Wyler give such a warm speech was the highlight for me. I found it a bit odd that the feature on the costumes features a collector who's so ambivalent about Edith Head; is that a common sentiment among such enthusiasts, I wonder? (Also wasn't a massive fan of Jay Cocks' remarks, I thought it felt tacky how he kept bringing the conversation back to The Age of Innocence.)

Then I rewatched the film, third time ever for me, and I really think I'm starting to lean toward calling this a masterpiece. I wouldn't quite rate it with The Best Years of Our Lives and Dodsworth, because the warmth and unforced naturalism of those movies is extremely touching to me, but it does seem like the perfect synthesis of Wyler's period films with the skill set he explored in The Little Foxes (the keen portrayal of dysfunctional family units).
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The one major issue I had with it originally -- that I had trouble buying that the two distinct halves of de Havilland's performance were believably the same character -- is beginning to fade away as I accept that both "versions" of Catherine are essentially just self-selected parts of herself, a defense mechanism that would likely be necessary living in a home with her father; I can hardly think of a character in a Hollywood picture who we more consistently can sense trying desperately and earnestly to be accepted, or whose brokenness and bitterness are more palpable. It also works because by the end of the film her attitude and manner have come to resemble her father's -- as if in rejecting him, she finally becomes him.

The last five minutes are meticulously, beautifully blocked and crafted. I watched them several times in a row. This time I noticed how effectively frantic Catherine's tense conversation with Maria about bolting the door is, and how haunting the image of the mobile lantern light visible above the front door is, almost like Danvers moving from room to room at Manderley. Normally I find the "The End" title card in movies of this vintage kind of distracting but there's something so cathartic, and darkly funny, about its unforgiving finality here. (That said, thanks to Vertigo and Morocco, I associate the Paramount logo already with such a great sense of weighty tragedy that I think fading straight to it might have worked just as well.)

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FrauBlucher
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Re: 974 The Heiress

#21 Post by FrauBlucher » Mon May 27, 2019 7:49 am


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FrauBlucher
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Re: 974 The Heiress

#22 Post by FrauBlucher » Sun Jun 16, 2019 7:20 pm

Question:
On the Merv Griffin Show supplement there was a woman added to the panel before Wyler came out but she was never spoken to. I can't place her. Does anyone know who she is?

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Matt
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Re: 974 The Heiress

#23 Post by Matt » Mon Jun 17, 2019 11:37 am

I haven't seen the supplement, but IMDb lists Bette Davis, Olivia de Havilland, Samantha Eggar (star of Wyler's The Collector), Walter Pidgeon, and Wyler as the only guests on that episode.

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FrauBlucher
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Re: 974 The Heiress

#24 Post by FrauBlucher » Mon Jun 17, 2019 11:54 am

That’s it, Samantha Eggar! Thanks

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