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james, this is the Victorian Period, not 2014. Catherine does not have the benefit as I and missW have already stated the benefit of therapy. How do you know what most women did in 1880? She was hurt from the day she was born. Her hurt and mistrust was deeply rooted. She was NOT going to wake up one morning and say, well let bygyones be bygones and I'll just move on. We can't judge Catherine through contemporary eyes. No where in the film does Wyler ever let be implied that Catherine was going to open herself up to another relationship or certainly ever forgive Morris. That is William Wyler's vision, and that is what we see in the film *The Heiress* .


My belief is that what drove Catherine at this point was to be the Master of Her World and yes she wanted to be alone and never give anyone the opportunity to hurt her again.


Edited by: lavenderblue19 on Feb 13, 2014 2:31 PM

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Hi James, :)


The ending of I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang had a powerful ending that gives the audience the impression that Paul Muni will always be a poor frightened guy, always hiding from the law.


However, in real life, the real guy wrote a book about his experiences and made his way to Hollywood where this film was made, based on his book. So the real life ending was much different from the film's ending.


But a problem with The Heiress is that it also gives us a "punch line" type of strong ending, but after seeing the film several times, we realize that the two stars are still young and still have long lives to live and will most likely have other experiences with men/women, which many of us want to speculate about.


Does she kill herself? Does Monte come back again and again? Does she find a nice rich handsome husband?


Any number of other things can happen to these people, yet we aren't given any clues, other than she failed to let him in her house that one time, and she decided to do no more needlework. Doh.... what next?


By the way, both the original magzine story of 1880 and the original book of 1881 are available on the internet. The ending of the book is different from the ending of the film.


Both the magazine story and the book give us much more of a verbal story, a narrative, of what she looks like and acts like and what her father thinks about her.


The film makers tried to capture that information in their film, but to me they made her seem to be somewhat mentally ****, the way Olivia played the part. The book makes it more clear that she is just too plain and simple, compared to her mother, but not necessarily ****. The book makes her seem more like a young, shy, na?ve 2nd Mrs. DeWinter who never changed or matured over time, and certainly we can not call the 2nd Mrs. DeWinter ****.


But I think Olivia didn't play the part like her sister played the other role. I think Olivia played the girl as being mentally ****. I don't think this was Olivia's fault. I think it was the director's fault.


Others might disagree with my assessment, but that's ok. :)

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james, it seems to me that you bring a very practical attitude towards movies. It's as though you've read a bunch of self-help books and want to apply them to the characters and scenarios in film.

At the risk of sounding horribly pretentious, this is art, we're talking about, not real life.

You do that a lot, you apply real-life 21st century values to works of fiction.

Henry James - and for that matter, William Wyler - was not thinking about the most "realistic" or "practical" approach Catherine could take to the society she lived in. He was writing a novel, not a self-help guide to dealing with duplicitous men.


lavenderblue put it very well:

>I believe that Catherine does not eventually have a life with Morris, or >meet another man. It would cheapen the story to have a la de da >Hollywood ending to Catherine Sloper. And ... to believe either of >those scenerios is to miss the point of the story.


>*This is meant to be a heatbreaking and poignant story, not a fairy >tale.*

(Emphasis mine)


Right, *Washington Square / The Heiress* is not a heart-throb romance written with a happy ending in mind. certainly not a fairy tale. Neither was it written (James) or directed in film (Wyler) as a guide to young plain single women on how to end up with a man (that would be the "self help in the 21st century to relationship guide" approach you seem to endorse.)


It's a literary work, and like many great literary works it does not have a happy ending, nor would it be desirable for it to have one.

It seems to me that anyone who thinks that Catherine Sloper has a happy life after Morris is turned from her door - either by reuniting with him ,or meeting some other, more suitable man - does not understand what the story is about at all.

If she were going to end up with Montgomery Clift or another man who wanted her, then the film would have ended that way ,and not as it did.

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Well we can agree to disagree. Catherine says that the needlepoint she is working on is the last one she will do. That type of hobby is known as a 'old' women's type of hobby is it not? Well I interpret that as meaning that this phase of her life (the bitterness, letting the two men her in life messed with her), was ending. Why did Wyler have that scene if it didn't mean something related to her future?


Now, I'm not saying, the next day Catherine went out and got a date! I'm just saying that as time move ahead I don't see her sitting alone night after night, but instead joining society, if you will, as a lady.

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You misunderstood my point as it relates to Catherine future. My point was about what happens to her after the movie is over.


The movie ending is perfect and I never said it wasn't.


lavenderblue is ALSO predicting Catherine's future. We just happen to disagree on what the future holds for her.


My point was about what happens many, many months or even years after the movie ends. It appears some are saying that Catherine is so damaged that she will never have a so called normal type of relationship with a man.


Hey, maybe that is true, but I don't get that vibe. I view having the strength to shut out Morris (hopefully for good), as a turning point in her life. Yes, that might be a pollyanna POV. I get that.

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james I don't agree, however I do agree that we can agree to disagree. ( although, I do believe that is not the point of the story and that Catherine winds up alone) Just curious did you like the film? does your view of what might be Catherine's future make you like the film better? for me dreaming up an ending does not enhance this film.


Did you once hear Catherine say she was now going out into the world, or that she wanted to meet another man? I didn't predict her future. Catherine in the novel and in this film is going to be alone.She no longer needed the comfort of her embrodery. Does that mean that she could now put it behind her, possibly, but that doesn't mean she wanted to meet another man. Her mission was accomplished and that was to be equally cold and cruel to her dying father, and treat Morris as he had treated her. She winds up alone, and she wanted it that way at that point


Edited by: lavenderblue19 on Feb 13, 2014 3:09 PM

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As I related to Miss Wonderly, my fantasy prediction as to Catherine's future had NO impact to my enjoyment of the film.


The film is great and one of my favorite. I wouldn't change it. Unlike Fred, I feel the ending is perfect (Fred felt it left us hanging).


I don't feel I'm dreaming up an ending to the movie. AGAIN, the ending of the movie is perfect. I'm dreaming about the events that occur AFTER the ending of the movie. AFTER. This is similar to how people discuss the movie The Graduate and how it ends. That is another movie with a perfect ending but what occurs after is left to us to think about (if we so chose).

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How far does the novel take Catherine in terms of age? Does the novel mention that she remains alive for decade after decade, never gets married and ends up alone?


If NOT than you're predicting her future (one where she is alone until she dies), just like I'm doing.


I think you're downplaying this "comfort of her embrodery". Again, why is that scene in the movie? It was put there to convery something. If my interpetation is so 'off' do you have a better one?

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>The film is great and one of my favorite. I wouldn't change it. Unlike Fred, I feel the ending is perfect (Fred felt it left us hanging).


Well, it's a strange phenomenon that original movie-goers didn't have to deal with, but that confronts us modern old-movie fans quite often. That is..... we get to see the movie so many times, we begin to think of things that the screenwriter and director never intended us to think of.


That is often what causes these debates, because different ones of us come up with different ideas about "what happened later", whereas the screenwriter and director often didn't give us a clue, such as "what happens to Scarlett O'Hara" the day after GWTW ends? A year later? Two years later? etc.


You might be interested in reading the original book because much of the story is different, especially the ending. But, reading the original book after seeing the movie a dozen times, often confuses some people even more, and I've seen people get mixed up about what they remember and not remembering what was in the book as compared to what was in the movie. And that is confusing. :)


I think that most people who have seen the movie only once and never again, will probably not think about "what happens next", and will feel some cheerfullness in the way Olivia responded to Monte's last visit, and that is really THE END of the entire story. :P


PS: I think it is a great tribute to this movie for us to discuss it and debate it so much, like what some of us have done with The Searchers, such as Ethan's relationship with Aunt Martha before he went off to war. I watch The Heiress just about every time it is on, and each time I wish I could tell Olivia and Monte what I think they SHOULD do. I want to see them get married but I want to be sure he doesn't abuse her inheritance. I want to see them be happily married for years, with several nice children. And I want her to help him find some sort of good job or profession, and maybe he could teach her how to use a little makeup. :P

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I've seen this films probably close to a dozen times, and I don't feel any "Cheerfulness" about the way the story ends. I've already stated from the beginning that this was a heatbreaking and poignant story. To give it another conclusion that she lives happily ever after with another man cheapens this story. So not sure why your comment about people who only saw this film once will not think about what happens next. No need to dream up another ending, Wyler's vision was perfect the way it stands.


Considering the strange comparsion of *Now Voyager* and Charlotte and *The Heriess* and Catherine that was made, one might beieve that was made by someone who only saw this film once and didn't really get what either story was about.


Edited by: lavenderblue19 on Feb 13, 2014 3:41 PM

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>No need to dream up another ending, Wyler's vision was perfect the way it stands.


Well...... Wyler's ending is somewhat different from the original book's ending, so Wyler himself has already altered the ending. This might have happened with the authors of the play too.


What we have is:


A magazine serial short story.

A novel based on the short story, and changed somewhat.

A play, changed somewhat.

A film, changed somewhat.


So, we have 4 versions of the same story, before we even see the film. :P

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>Considering the strange comparsion of Now Voyager and Charlotte and The Heriess and Catherine that was made, one might beieve that was made by someone who only saw this film once and didn't really get what either story was about.


You are just trying to insult me. :) These are movies with some similar characters. This is a movie discussion board. We all have various opinions. :P

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No just answering your insulting post about those who you think only saw the film once and thought the ending was "Cheerful" and couldn't dream up another ending. Catherine as I've pointed out now numerous times didn't have Claude Rains to council, consule and advise her. Two very different scenerios and a fact you didn't mention when the your comparision was made. Fred, I was the one who first mentioned Washington Square . Now that you've mentioned 4 different versions, maybe you would like to elaborate and tell us why all those versions are different from Wyler's vision ( of course without the benfit of Wiki)


Yes, we are all entitled to our opinions. Thoughtful opinions are the ones most valued

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This is the ending of the novel Washington Square Catherine has the converstation with Morris where she essentiall rejects him:


[Morris says] "Well, I was in hopes that we might still have been friends."


[Catherne] "I meant to tell you, by my aunt, in answer to your message--if you had waited for an answer--that it was unnecessary for you to come in that hope."


[A couple paragraphs later, Morris leaves and speaks to the aunt, Mrs. Penniman.]


"She doesn't care a button for me--with her confounded little dry manner."


"Was it very dry?" pursued Mrs. Penniman, with solicitude.


Morris took no notice of her question; he stood musing an instant, with his hat on. "But why the deuce, then, would she never marry?"


"Yes--why indeed?" sighed Mrs. Penniman. And then, as if from a sense of the inadequacy of this explanation, "But you will not despair--you will come back?"


"Come back? Damnation!" And Morris Townsend strode out of the house, leaving Mrs. Penniman staring.


Catherine, meanwhile, in the parlour, picking up her morsel of fancy-work, had seated herself with it again--for life, as it were.

(Washington Square, Chap. 35)


From the novel, it's pretty clear there is no "cheerful" ending. Catherine rejects Morris and is resolved to remain single. Also, the novel states earlier that after her father's death, she had other proposals of marriage after Morris' that she rejected. Catherine is choosing to be alone; after all, she's a woman who now can be financially independent.


The addition of the line, "I've been taught by masters," to the film and that great scene where the determined Catherine snaps the thread, is not what I would call a happy ending, but I think it does show that Catherine has become a strong and determined woman who wants to remain independent. One of the lines she speaks to her aunt is, "He has become greedy. He wanted my money before. Now he wants my love." I think she is unwilling to lavish her affection again upon someone who is unworthy; the expression on her face as she reaches the top of the stairs is almost triumphant. Who is to say that choosing to live alone rather than accept a marriage to someone unworthy is such a terrible thing?

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Who said living alone is a terrible thing? I do and its not terrible (though I realize public opinion back in those days looked at it in a different way. Losers.) I just wish I had Catherine's money to make ends meet! (LOL)

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Thank You Rosebette. From your first post at the very beginning of this thread, I knew we were simpatico on *The Heiress* . If you read the whole thread you'll see I've also made many of the same points you have. I thank you for your well thought out and well written post. I've also always felt that Catherine marching up the staircase with that truimphant look on her face said it all. Again, I appreciate and Thank You for your great posts :)

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From the ending of the book:


"Catherine, meanwhile, in the parlour, picking up her morsel of fancy-work, had seated herself with it again - for life, as it were."


That is different from the movie. In the movie she says she will never do her fancy-work again, leaving the audience to wonder why and what she means by that. Whereas the book ending has her doing it (and apparently nothing else) for the rest of her life.


Does anyone here have any idea what the movie version means and why it is different from the book version?

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My theory about that is they wanted to end on a shot of Montgomery Clift whom they were building as their next big star. Paramount would soon cast him in the remake of AN AMERICAN TRAGEDY-- which was renamed A PLACE IN THE SUN.


Even Fox's film adaptation of MY COUSIN RACHEL, which again pairs Miss de Havilland with a younger matinee idol (this time Richard Burton) turns the focus in the final reel away from the actress and on to the young man, being groomed for major stardom at the studio.

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As you suspected Fred it was Wyler that didn't like the ending as written in the novel and I feel the change you noted here is a major one (which is why I mentioned it before).


If the movie had ended with Catherine going back to do that type of 'old lonely lady' type hobby I wouldn't have wondered about her future.


Now, I still love the type of ending Wyler had since I like an ending that doesn't tie up all the loose ends.


Hey, Wyler changed the ending of The Letter also (he was required to because of the code), but in that case we all know how Leslie ends up!

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Ah, but the ending of The Heiress, Morris is in a longer shot, banging on the door, the victim. It's the close-up of Catherine with the lamp, climbing the stairs, that sticks. Also, the scene of her climbing the stairs recalls the earlier scene of the weary, bedraggled, and jilted Catherine climbing the stairs with her heavy bags. In the last scene, her face is strong and even triumphant. I think it's Olivia's show all the way here. As much as I like Clift as an actor, any young actor could have played that role.

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