The Heiress, one of the most intense psychological dramas to issue from 1940s Hollywood, unfolds almost entirely under one roof: that of the well-appointed Manhattan town house where tremulous Catherine Sloper (an Oscar-winning Olivia de Havilland) lives with her domineering father (Ralph Richardson), and is courted by a strapping young man (Montgomery Clift) of uncertain intentions. Though the 1840s-set film, based on a theatrical adaptation of Henry James’s Washington Square, seldom strays from this single location, director William Wyler and his cast use the subtlest of gestures to construct a world that doesn’t feel the least bit stage-bound. As screenwriter Jay Cocks and critic Farran Smith Nehme observe in the video above, taken from a supplement on our chock-full new edition of The Heiress, the movie’s unostentatious camera movement invites viewers into the action rather than simply punctuating it. Cocks and Nehme also go on to discuss how Wyler and de Havilland transform one particular borrowing from James’s novel—Catherine’s embroidery—into a brilliantly piercing visual motif.
A Subtler Side of the Hepburn-Grant Magic
Filmmaker and distributor Michael Schlesinger and critic Michael Sragow dive into the pleasures of Holiday, a romantic-comedy classic that has long stood in the shadow of The Philadelphia Story but has a poignancy all its own.
Wim Wenders Looks Back on the Digital Future He Predicted
From search engines to all-engrossing handheld devices, the technologies that the German director conjured for his 1991 opus Until the End of the World are now common features of contemporary life.
John Bailey Breaks Down a Tour de Force of Gothic Lighting
The veteran cinematographer takes a close look at the highly stylized and atmospheric lighting in one of the most pivotal scenes in pre-Code classic The Story of Temple Drake.
All About Mankiewicz
One of the most celebrated Hollywood writer-directors of his time, Joseph L. Mankiewicz offers a window into the way he sees his characters in this illuminating clip from an archival interview.