The Heiress is a 1949 American romantic drama film directed and produced by William Wyler, from a screenplay written by Ruth and Augustus Goetz, adapted from their 1947 stage play of the same title, which was itself adapted from Henry James' 1880 novel Washington Square. The film stars Olivia de Havilland as Catherine Sloper, a naive young woman who falls in love with a handsome young man despite the objections of her emotionally abusive father who suspects the man of being a fortune hunter. Montgomery Clift stars as Morris Townsend, and Ralph Richardson as Dr. Sloper.


In New York City, sometime in the 1840s, Catherine Sloper is a plain, painfully shy woman whose father, Dr. Austin Sloper, makes no secret of his disappointment in her. Catherine, as her father painfully reminds her, has limited talent and cannot "hold a candle" to her deceased mother. Catherine's gregarious Aunt Lavinia Penniman moves into the household after becoming widowed and attempts to prod Catherine into being more social and finding a husband.