|Clift and de Havilland, courtesy Paramount Pictures.|
|de Havilland as Catherine, Paramount Pictures|
Augustus and Ruth Goetz wrote the screenplay for the 1949 Paramount Pictures version of the story and masterful director William Wyler (most notable for his work with Bette Davis) was set to direct. With de Havilland as Catherine, Sir Ralph Richardson reprised the role of Dr. Austin Sloper—a part he made famous in the London West End production of the play. Legendary Miriam Hopkins (notoriously difficult to work with) was cast as Aunt Lavinia. However, who was to play Morris? Enter relative newcomer, Montgomery Clift. Clift had already had considerable success on Broadway and had made a name for himself in his debut films, The Search and Red River. Clift most certainly had the physical beauty to play Morris Townsend, but would he be suitable for a period drama? He proved to be perfectly cast though he was never satisfied with his performance in the film.
|Clift as Morris, Paramount Pictures|
More suspenseful than the stage version, the picture is riveting and keeps you guessing about Morris’ intentions until the last moments of the film. For an enjoyable few hours and to learn something about the art of great picture-making, The Heiress is a must-see. As Catherine herself says, “I learned from masters…”