“Yes, I can be cruel; I have been taught by masters,” is one of those phrases that figure prominently in the lore of Hollywood dialogue. The words were uttered by Olivia de Havilland as Catherine Sloper, her role in The Heiress that won her the Golden Globe for the Best Leading Actress in a Drama of 1950.
Adapted from the successful play of the same title by Augustus Goetz, which in turn was adapted from Henry James’ 1881 novel “Washington Square,” and carefully and meticulously directed by William Wyler, The Heiress turned out to be one of the finest artistic achievements of Paramount Studios for that year.
De Havilland triumphed with her subtle portrayal of a plain and naïve woman controlled by her dominating father (Ralph Richardson,) who falls for a handsome suitor (Montgomery Clift,) only to be abandoned by him when her father threatens to disinherit her. She will assert her vengeance years later when, after her father’s death and her assumption of his wealth, the suitor returns to try to win her back.
The play is regularly reprised on Broadway; and in 1997 the film was remade, not as successfully, under the title Washington Square, with Jennifer Jason Leigh, Albert Finney and Ben Chaplin in the starring roles, under the direction of Agnieszka Holland.
|6th May 2011,|