The Heiress

Synopsis: In the mid-1800's, the wealthy Sloper family - widowed surgeon Dr. Austin Sloper, his adult daughter Catherine Sloper (Dr. Sloper's only surviving child), and Dr. Sloper's recently widowed sister Lavinia Penniman - live in an opulent house at 16 Washington Square, New York City. They have accrued their wealth largely through Dr. Sloper's hard work. Despite the lessons that Dr. Sloper has paid for in all the social graces for her, Catherine is a plain, simple, awkward and extremely shy woman who spends all her free time alone doing embroidery when she is not doting on her father. Catherine's lack of social charm and beauty - unlike her deceased mother - is obvious to Dr. Sloper, who hopes that Lavinia will act as her guardian in becoming more of a social person, and ultimately as chaperon if Catherine were ever to meet the right man. The first man ever to show Catherine any attention is the handsome Morris Townsend, who she met at a family party. Catherine is initially uncertain as to M
Genre: Drama, Romance
Director(s): William Wyler
Production: Paramount Pictures
  Won 4 Oscars. Another 5 wins & 8 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
115 min

- Good morning.

- Good morning.

- Here's the dress for Miss Sloper.

- Thank you.

Miss Cathy, it's your new dress!

Will you take it out of the box,

Maria, and hang it up?

Yes, Miss.

Well, that's all, I think.

- I'll be at the Harrisons'.

- Yes, Doctor.

I may not get to the clinic today

at all.

- Good morning, Lavinia.

- Good morning, Austin.

- Catherine's starting another?

- She embroiders beautifully.

I hope she doesn't let it become

a life's work.

Austin, yesterday

I had the most exciting experience!

- Oh?

- I met two people from Poughkeepsie.

Birth certificate. They had been

members of my husband's congregation.

When I told them I was stopping

with my brother,

Dr. Sloper, 16 Washington Square,

they were so impressed.

It's just made my visit!

Lavinia, would you care

to spend the winter here?

The winter? Oh, gladly!

Good. I thought if you stayed on,

you might help Catherine.

Help her? But help her how, Austin?

For instance,

Elizabeth's party this evening,

you could persuade Catherine

to join in with the young people.

Enjoy herself.

- But of course she'll do that.

- I hope so.


Six pounds. That'll be 30 cents.

- Could you please cut off the head?

- Yes, Miss. Kitty, kitty, kitty.

- There you are.

- Thank you.

Yes, ma'am. Fresh fish!

- Morning, Father.

- Morning, Catherine.

I bought a fine fish

for the chowder you like.

That's very thoughtful.

Next time,

let the man carry it in for you.

- Oh. Yes, Father.

- Coming!

It's a lovely morning. Why don't you

invite your Aunt Lavinia or a friend

to take luncheon with you,

perhaps go to a park concert?

I can't. I have some embroidery

I'd like to attend to.

Ah, yes.

Well, I'll see you this evening.

Yes, Father. Goodbye.

- Catherine?

- Come in, Aunt Penniman.

Ooh, you must hurry, dear.

You were a long time

at that hospital committee.

- Too long.

- Didn't you like it?

Some ladies on the committee

are so foolish, they're useless.

They think it ill-bred to know

anything about food or the kitchen.

Such airs and graces.

When I was young,

we took pride in our housewifery.

My, the meals I used to set before

the Reverend Penniman, rest his soul!

- Then, you have deceived me, Aunt.

- How so?

You led me to believe

that you and he lived on love alone.

A witticism like that would be

of interest to people this evening.

It's a very good way to get started.

What I mean is, don't go off

by yourself tonight, will you?

Stay with all of us

and enjoy the party.

You have been talking to Father.

Well, yes, dear. In a way I have.

- Your father...

- Father would like me to be composed

- and to join in the conversation.

- Yes.

- I can't, Aunt Lavinia.

- Perhaps you don't try sufficiently.

Oh, I do! I do!

I would do anything to please him.

There's nothing

that means more to me.

I have sat here in my room

and made notes of the things I should

say and how I should say them.

But when I am in company, it seems

that no one wants to listen to me.

Now, Catherine.

If you will stay by me this evening,

you will see that what I say is not

always of the greatest importance

but, dear,

that doesn't keep me from talking.

Yes, Aunt.

Now, I'll finish dressing

and meet you downstairs.


Come in, Catherine.

Good evening, Father.

Do I disturb you?

You are not a disturbing woman,

my dear.

Do you like my dress?

Is it possible this

magnificent person is my daughter?

But you are sumptuous, opulent.

You look as if

you have 80,000 a year.

- I thought you'd like the color.

- Yes.

- It's cherry red.

- So it is.

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Ruth Goetz

Ruth Goetz (January 12, 1912 — October 12, 2001) was an American playwright, screenwriter, and translator along with her husband and collaborator Augustus Goetz. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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    "The Heiress" STANDS4 LLC, 2022. Web. 8 Dec. 2022. <>.

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