Olivia de Havilland earned a second Oscar for her role as Catherine Sloper a plain, introverted, socially inept wealthy young woman in 19th century New York City who is on the verge of becoming a spinster. Catherine’s father (Ralph Richardson), a prominent doctor is only too well aware of his daughter’s shortcomings. He can barely hide his contempt for Catherine and psychologically abuses his sweet daughter, who desperately wants his approval but can never match up to his memory of her beautiful, charming, and vivacious late mother.

When Catherine meets the handsome, charismatic Morris Townsend (Montgomery Clift) at a party, she is swept off her feet. Not surprisingly, her father objects to the penniless Morris and believes the only thing he finds attractive about Catherine is the substantial inheritance she stands to gain.

Ralph Richardson gives such a believably callous and cruel performance as Dr. Sloper that you root for him to somehow be struck down. Montgomery Clift is appealing as the poor suitor and plays Morris as the perfect mix of humble, smooth, and sincere. Is he or isn’t he after Catherine’s money? He keeps you guessing.

Miriam Hopkins is Catherine’s practical aunt Penniman who wants to see her niece happy. She doesn’t care whether Morris is in love with Catherine as long as he marries her and saves her from being a perpetual lonely wallflower

Although she is probably best known for playing Melanie in Gone With The Wind, I find the shy Catherine is de Havilland’s most far ranging, in-depth role and best performance. Her subtle but brilliant transformation from naïve, awkward innocent to idealistically in love to desperate, wounded, resigned and finally bitter, cold and hateful is completely compelling. You won’t be able to take your eyes off her when at the end it’s she who turns the tables.

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