Something's Rotten in Washington Square

         What gives men like Morris the right to think that they can just walk in and out of a woman's life and expect to be welcomed back with smiles and open arms? Morris was living in a dream world if he thought for just one minute that he could take that much advantage of a girl, no matter whom she was, and get away with it, even if he does look like Montgomery Clift by whom he is portrayed as in William Wyler's 1949 film version, The Heiress, based on Henry James's 1880 Washington Square.

Mb>          I feel that the film showed the best rendition of how Catherine, played by Olivia de Havilland, dealt with Morris when he returned from California. She did not just tell him she would not go with him as she does in the novel; she leaves him standing outside her door, pathetically calling for her. I think that the addition of this aspect to the story greatly increased its likeability, for me anyway.

         I also loved the way Olivia de Havilland, played Catherine Sloper, with her prim, proper, and shy ways. Her whole demeanor changed dramatically throughout the film; starting with the shy, hopeless girl, then the more confidant woman in love, and finally the hard, cold, scorned woman that puts Morris in his place. Montgomery Clift also played Morris Townsend very well; with his cool, suave behavior. However, I am not completely sure that his looks and his manner did not make him a little too likeable; that is until he leaves Catherine so coldly.

         Thus, I absolutely adored the film, The Heiress. It has always been one of my favorite William Wyler films. Wyler completely conveys Washington Square's zest and adds his own twist to it; showing us that the only thing rotten about Washington Square is Morris Townsend.

Jami Anthony

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