October 6, 2020

Birthday of The Heiress

On October 6, 1949, the premiere of William Wyler's movie "The Heiress" at the New York music hall took place.

The literary basis for the script for this film was the 1880 novel Washington Square by American writer Henry James. However, before being filmed, this novel first became the basis for a play, written by Ruth and Augustus Goetz. This play was written in 1947 and was staged at the Samuel Friedman Theater on Broadway on September 29, 1947. During the year, 410 performances took place, that is, more than one performance per day without holidays and weekends, which indicates the extreme popularity of this performance and this play.

Then the performance "moved" to London, where another 644 performances took place at the Royal Haymarket Theater. But the main thing is that as soon as the play left the United States, Wyler had the opportunity to film the play by Ruth and Augustus Goetz. Actually, they were also the authors of the film's script.

Shortly after its premiere, in early 1950, "Heiress" received 3 Golden Globe nominations, but won only one of them: Olivia de Haviland was voted Best Actress. William Wyler in the Best Director nomination lost to Robert Rossen, director of the movie "All the King's Men."

Following the Golden Globe, "The Heiress" received 8 Oscar nominations, of which 4 won, including again Olivia de Haviland was named Best Actress. William Wyler, like Robert Rossen, lost the Best Director nomination to Joseph Leo Mankiewicz, who directed the film A Letter to Three Wives. And the film "The Heiress" lost again to the film "All the King's Men".

Outside the United States, the film "The Heiress" did not participate in any film forums. But critics almost all over the world reacted to the film more than favorably. Even the usually overly picky movie reviewer of The New York Times, Bosley Crowther did not find what to complain about in this film. In his review, he wrote: "Not many film producers are able to do the sort of thing that William Wyler has done with "The Heiress," the mordant stage play of two seasons back. For Mr. Wyler has taken this drama, which is essentially of the drawing-room and particularly of an era of stilted manners and rigid attitudes, and has made it into a motion picture that crackles with allusive life and fire in its tender and agonized telling of an extraordinarily characterful tale. ... "The Heiress" is one of the handsome, intense and adult dramas of the year." ('The Heiress' With Olivia de Havilland in Leading Role, Arrives at Music Hall. By Bosley Crowther. The New York Times, Oct. 7, 1949)

Henry James' novel Washington Square was filmed several times after 1949, both in the United States (several times), Mexico, and even the Philippines. But the best film adaptation is the 1949 film. This is evidenced by the ratings given to the film by users of IMDB and Kinopoisk. 73% of IMDB and Kinopoisk users around the world gave this movie 8 or more ratings.

With that said, FilmGourmand rated this film at 8.122, placing it 568th in the Golden Thousand.

In the USSR, the film was not shown.