Return to Washington Square: William Wyler’s Academy Award-Winning Classic The Heiress – 35mm Screening

The Auditorium at Northeastern Illinois University – Building E, 3701 W. Bryn Mawr Ave
General Admission: $5 • NEIU Students: $2

14-heiress-600Wednesday, November 30 @ 7:30 PM / NEIU
Directed by William Wyler • 1949
Here for once is a Hollywood literary adaptation that lives up to its eight Academy Award nominations and its finely-honed sense of self-importance. (The original ad campaign simply tagged it as “A Truly Great Motion Picture,” confident that no further elaboration was necessary.) The project was instigated by Olivia DeHavilland, who caught Ruth and Augustus Goetz’s dramatization of Henry James’s novel Washington Square on Broadway and brought the property to the attention of William Wyler. Improbably, DeHavilland saw herself as the ideal actress to play sullen society spinster Catherine Sloper, daughter of a prominent New York doctor (Ralph Richardson, reprising his role from the London stage production) who shames and berates her constantly. Swept off her feet by the flirtatious entreaties of wastrel bachelor Morris Townsend (Montgomery Clift), Catherine must balance carnal desire and character judgment for the first time in her life. None of Wyler’s contemporaries could match him for stature or craftsmanship, and his films formed the backbone of André Bazin’s theories of mise en scène, yet his work is now screened all too infrequently. Assailed by Manny Farber and the auteurist critics who followed in his wake for the supposed crime of making arty films with social aspirations, Wyler and his work need no apology. A class act in every respect (including Aaron Copland’s score), The Heiress remains an expertly calibrated chamber drama that builds to an unforgettably cruel climax. (KW)
Film Stock: Kodak B+W (2001)
115 min • Paramount Pictures • 35mm from Universal

Preceded by: Selected Cartoon

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