Not Just Another Teen Movie

         William Wyler’s The Heiress, which is a 1949 adaptation of Henry James’s 1880 novel Washington Square, is not only captured as one of the most timeless motion pictures, but it is also a chief model for the universal themes of revenge, innocence, father-daughter relationships, and greed. All of these themes still play an active role in film plots, and a remaking of The Heiress could become a born-again instant hit with the younger generations of today’s society. Love stories tend to melt the hearts of millions every year, and with the main casting of perfectly fit actors and actresses, this storyline has the potential to do just that.

         For the character of Catherine Sloper, played by Olivia de Havilland in the film, would be best replaced by the actress Drew Barrymore. Barrymore played Josie Gellar in Raja Gosnell’s 1999 film Never Been Kissed. Her character revolved around an introverted, self-conscious, under appreciated woman given the chance to relive her traumatizing senior high school year. Throughout the film, she is degraded, alone, and never truly understood in. Barrymore did an excellent job of playing the awkward young woman, who beheld a great amount of potential but was not really given the chance to shine until the end. Barrymore’s role could easily transition over to play this part of Catherine Sloper since Barrymore would simply carry herself the same way throughout the remaking of The Heiress. Barrymore also possesses that beauty that truly stands out through confidence and wisdom through the years, such as Catherine’s character, as depicted by Olivia de Havilland, became towards the end of the film. In addition, in the end of Never Been Kissed, Barrymore emerged as a likeable, intelligent, and most importantly self-assured woman, who Catherine has evolved into.

         Personally, I think that Josh Duhamel would best reenact Morris Townsend, originally acted out by Montgomery Clift. Duhamel, from Robert Luketic’s 2004 Win a Date with Tad Hamilton and Michael Bay’s 2007 Transformers is the kind of actor who carries himself quite well. Morris is a very handsome, charismatic character, and Duhamel is just that. He has the warm, charming smile, the striking features, and the overall composure of the typical gentleman to whisk away a young woman’s heart, such as Catherine’s. But, at the same time one could picture Duhamel’s character to be greedy and deceiving because his good looks and charm would surpass the truth.

         Dr. Sloper is more of a challenge to replace since his character is rather complex. In the 1949 film, Ralph Richardson played the role, but he was not the “doctor” type in which I had envisioned. Granted, he presented himself with high intelligence, high status, and a worldly nature, but he lacked the cruelty that was depicted throughout the original book. In a remake, Hugh Laurie would be a prime candidate for the character of Dr. Austin Sloper. Laurie plays the role of Dr. House in the acclaimed medical drama series House, and no one would be a better fit in the script. House is a rude, controversial, brilliant, but nonetheless fascinating doctor, and his manners towards people in the show would be a perfect fit with the way Dr. Sloper was depicted as acting towards his daughter. Plus, Laurie simply embraces that doctor mentality, but with the inner linings of a complete jerk. Dr. Sloper is a fairly multifaceted man, and Ralph Richardson was capable of demonstrating that; but Hugh Laurie would be just as, if not more successful in acting out this part.

         Lastly, Lavinia Penniman’s character (Miriam Hopkins) would be very well modernized with Rosie O’Donnell. First off, the film would need some humor, and she would supply it. O’Donnell strikes me as the annoying, meddlesome family member that most stray far away from. In the film, Lavinia is constantly in everyone’s business, perhaps wanting to make things right; but she comes across as the talkative annoyance who will not disappear. O’Donnell, to be honest, plainly irritates me, but in this role, I believe she would be a good fit. Additionally, she would be the type to take a liking to Josh Duhamel as the remake of The Heiress would portray.

         A few other aspects might be a necessity to tweak, but the basic plot would not be altered much for a remake. The ages and differences of years between the proposed actors and actresses may not be entirely appropriate, but one must look past that and realize these men and women would depict the assigned characters to a tee. The Heiress is not the typical love story, or “chick flick,” since the ending is not the normal “guy gets girl and they live happily ever after” plot. However, the themes, along with the precise acting are what made this film stand out once; and it has all the potential to be yet another wonderful adaptation from the original Washington Square.

Alicia Cassady

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