Washington Heiress

     Tonight I was treated to a film based upon Washington Square, the 1880 novel by Henry James. The novel itself I felt was rather dry and boring. I had to put down the book three or four times just to take a nap. When I read the syllabus for what events would take place tonight, I read that we would be watching The Heiress, the 1949 film version of the book, I could hardly make it through. I cringed at the thought of listening to Dr. Sloper put down his daughter again. I regretted having to hear Morris try to court Catherine so that he could marry her and get her money. Upon viewing the film, however, I changed my mind.

     The director of the film, William Wyler, whose Wuthering Heights we had watched a few weeks before (and I had not cared for) had made an excellent adaptation of one of the most boring books I have ever read. He took the story of Washington Square and made it into a wonderful movie. I understood some of the story from Washington Square that apparently I had fallen asleep during my attempts to read it.

     The man who played Dr. Sloper, Ralph Richardson, did an excellent job. He portrayed the doctor with flare. I actually thought of Dr. Sloper as a well-done character after viewing the film. He showed just how cruel Dr. Sloper could be toward his own daughter. I despised the character because Richardson played him so well.

     One of the best moments in the film happens when Catherine becomes a "colder" person. One can see the changes that she goes through as a person after she and her father fall out. Throughout the film, though, one can see Catherine progress as person, from loving daughter to bitter adult. I loved the visuals used to portray her character.

     In the end, I was impressed with this film. It turned a rather dull, dry book into a wonderfully done story.

Richard Shepherd

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