movie film review | chris tookey


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  Heiress  Review
Tookey's Rating
9 /10
Average Rating
9.00 /10
Olivia de Havilland , Montgomery Clift, Ralph Richardson
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Directed by: William Wyler
Written by: Ruth Goetz, Augustus Goetz from their play and Henry James's novel Washington Square

Released: 1949
Genre: DRAMA
Origin: US
Length: 115


An unscrupulous gold-digger (Montgomery Clift, pictured left) pursues a plain, lonely heiress (Olivia de Havilland, pictured right).

Reviewed by Chris Tookey

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William Wylerís immaculately stylish, deeply felt drama - based on Henry Jamesís novel Washington Square - won de Havilland a well-deserved Academy Award; but just as worth watching is Ralph Richardson as her authoritarian father. Clift was much criticised as lacking malevolence, but in retrospect it can be seen that he skilfully understates his character, allowing Wyler's clever direction (emphasising his dislocation from those around him, and the shadows whenever he is around) to hint at his evil intentions. Critical accusations of directorial superficiality are likewise misdirected. The themes of the book are well explored throughout; and Wyler gets exceptional performances from his cast.
The excellent, Oscar-winning score is by Aaron Copeland. The film has very high production values: the art and costume design won Oscars, while the cinematography (by Leo Tover, though very much in the style of Wyler's first-choice cameraman, Gregg Toland) was nominated.

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