Washington Square

Film, TV or theatrical adaptations

Ruth and Augustus Goetz adapted the novel for a very successful play, The Heiress, originally performed on Broadway in 1947 with Wendy Hiller as Catherine and Basil Rathbone as Dr. Sloper, and revived a number of times since.

The play was adapted for film in 1949, and starred Olivia de Havilland as Catherine, Ralph Richardson as Dr. Sloper, and Montgomery Clift as Morris. William Wyler directed. It was nominated for eight Academy Awards and won four. Both play and movie hewed closely to the novel and cribbed many of the best lines directly from James' dialogue. However, the Goetz version does make a few changes to the story and to the character of Catherine, making her angry enough to refuse to see her father on his deathbed, and clever enough to devise a ruse to revenge herself on Morris.

In 1972 Mexican director Jose Luis Ibañez made a movie version of this novel called Victoria (based on his own adaptation with Jorge Font) and starred Julissa, Enrique Alvarez Félix, Guillermo Murray and Rita Macedo. However this film got moderate reviews because such adaptation takes place in a modern Mexico City, in addition to many other liberties with the original text. [5]

Polish director Agnieszka Holland made another major movie version in 1997, starring Jennifer Jason Leigh, Albert Finney, and Ben Chaplin, with Maggie Smith as Mrs. Penniman. While this film also takes some liberties with the original text, it is in the main a more faithful adaptation.

The novel was adapted as an opera by Thomas Pasatieri in 1976.[6]


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