Who Is Morris Townsend?

         The 1949 film The Heiress, directed by William Wyler and based on Henry James's 1880 Washington Square, is a very good movie that captured my attention. What I liked about it was the differences between the play and the book Washington Square. I personally believe that movies do better justice when it comes to telling a story and getting the viewer to comprehend what is going on throughout the film. The film The Heiress did just that for me.

         The actor playing Morris Townsend (Montgomery Clift) does a fantastic job when it comes to portraying on screen his depiction of the sly character first described in the book Washington Square. Seeing this on film is much more captivating than attempting to depict an image in my mind while I am reading the story. Morris slithers his way into this film when he meets young Catherine (Olivia de Havilland) at a party she was attending with her father, Dr. Sloper (Ralph Richardson). Morris begins talking to her, teaches her how to dance, and eventually meets her father. Upon introducing himself to Dr. Sloper, Morris, with his sly nature, is able to sniff out or confirm what he has already learned that Catherine's father has money. So in a slick and convincing fashion Morris makes plans to see Catherine again. Slowly throughout the film Morris convinces Catherine that he is in love with her. What both Catherine and her father cannot believe is how such a young handsome man such as Morris Townsend is interested in and even claiming to be in love with Catherine.

         So who is Morris Townsend? Morris Townsley is a cold-hearted man who only looks out for his best interest. He is a man who has no regrets when it comes to breaking a woman's heart just to get to something he treasures more, money. Most of all, he is a sly individual who has slithered his way into Catherine Sloper's heart and given her something she has never gotten in her life. For the first time someone has been in pursuit of her and given her attention for which she has been yearning for years. I believe it is easier to follow and clearly depicted in the film of the way in which Morris' character has manipulated Catherine. This would later lead to Catherine's broken heart and lonely life, shown later in the film.

         The actor playing Morris (Montgomery Clift) does a great job of depicting his charming, conniving character.

Vincent Lucido

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