The Heiress : I don't think Austin was a terrible father.

I don't think Austin was a terrible father.

I noticed a lot of people here find Austin a terrible father and I was wondering why. He surely was really harsh when he told to Catherine she had nothing attractive, only money, but he was emotionally stressed, I guess. He passed all movie trying to open the daughter's eyes and she just keep on being "blind".

I'm sorry, but I think he was better than Lavinia. At least he was sincere. He knew Morris only wanted the money and very likely would hurt Catherine's feelings as the time goes by, why would he allow it?

Lavinia did the opposite. She wanted to see her niece happy, of course, but as I said, very likely Morris would her hurt her if they had married. It was not an intelligent think to do. Actually, it was kinda desperate. Why should Catherine marry Morris if he didn't love her?

Anyway, I love this movie, just really wanted to express my opinion. :)

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Re: I don't think Austin was a terrible father.

No, if Austin were a loving father he would have shown Catherine a very convincing case of Morris's duplicity instead of making Catherine's plainness the center of his argument. He would have had Morris investigated and found some jilted girls in his wake, tons of unpaid bills, many witnesses to his bad character. If he still couldn't dissuade her, he would have changed his will so that his fortune would go to Catherine and Morris's eldest child upon the child's 21st birthday or something like that. He would say "Go ahead and marry him, but I'm sorry I can't pay for a fancy wedding." And that would have been the end of Morris, and Catherine would see that her father was right.


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Re: I think Austin was a terrible father.

YES!!!

A loving father would have said, "My dear, this man is not worthy of YOU. YOU are too good for him. He does not deserve YOU."

Instead, he told her, "Morris could have any girl he wanted, you fool! You don't have what it takes to attract a man!"

Catherine was right. He didn't want her to marry, not really. He wanted her around, so he could continue to punish her for her mother's death.

Re: I think Austin was a terrible father.

I find it shocking that anyone can think Dr. Sloper is a good father. He is cruel, thoughtless, and verbally abusive. He forces poor Catherine to languish in the shadow of her dead mother, is loath to pay her a genuine compliment (they are always sarcastic, backhanded, or have a criticism attached), and he can't even show her simple affection. Remember when he jingled his keys in her face to wake her when she was napping? What an ugly, passive-aggressive gesture. Most parents would gently shake your shoulder. He can't even be bothered to touch her, he has to jingle his keys.

And happybkwrm is right, Dr. Sloper made the whole Morris debacle Catherine's fault even though, for the millionth time, IT WASN'T. Dr. Sloper pulled the classic "kick the victim and run" routine. Hell, a good father would have tracked down Morris and given him hell, but instead Catherine gets the brunt of Dr. Sloper's cruelty.

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Re: Austin wasn't such a bad guy.

Wow, we could not have taken in those scenes more differently.

I found his "I'll be as honest with him as he is with you" flat-out sardonic.

And his reference to her mother's success in wearing that color in comparison to Catherine absolutely punctured her. He walked out of the room either not noticing or not caring or both.

It's clear throughout the movie that she's a massive disappointment to him, and suffers in comparison to her mother in every way. Good lord, he actually calls her "a mediocre and defenseless creature with not a shred of poise"; and says, "Only I know what I lost when (her mother) died - and what I got in her place".

He despises his own daughter.

That doesn't mean he doesn't make the occasional effort to be polite or pleasant (his complimenting her dress). But his tone is transparent. He's not talking to an adult, and he's not talking to someone with whom he genuinely empathizes. He's making happy mouth noises, period - and occasionally with a very clear undertone of mockery.

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Re: I think Austin was a terrible father.

TOTALLY agree with you! Strange how differently people see the same thing

Siri

Don't Make Me Have to Release the Flying Monkeys!


Re: I think Austin was a terrible father.

While this is certainly a tribute to the complexity of James's psychological insight, it is also a testament to the incredible performance by Ralph Richardson, who is this film's greatest asset. Always great to watch, and perhaps never more so than in "The Heiress."

Re: I think Austin was a terrible father.


Remember when he jingled his keys in her face to wake her when she was napping? What an ugly, passive-aggressive gesture. Most parents would gently shake your shoulder. He can't even be bothered to touch her, he has to jingle his keys.


Lol yeah, that was strange. I was thinking, "What's she supposed to be? A daughter or a trained pet dog?"

Re: I think Austin was a terrible father.


Remember when he jingled his keys in her face to wake her when she was napping? What an ugly, passive-aggressive gesture. Most parents would gently shake your shoulder. He can't even be bothered to touch her, he has to jingle his keys.


Lol yeah, that was strange. I was thinking, "What's she supposed to be? A daughter or a trained pet dog?"

Re: I don't think Austin was a terrible father.

I agree with the OP. I have posted here years ago. Returned here now by accident. Years ago I was in the minority about the doctor. Here is one of my posts back then:


OK, so the Doctor insults Catherine ONCE in a tirade. (A few other slights are explainable in the Doctors' favor.) He was exasperated and reached the breaking point -- he had taken her to Europe to forget Morris, and she still said she was going to marry him. The Doctor said that "for months" he made an effort "not to be unkind" to Catherine, but then let it all out in that one scene -- that she has nothing to offer a man other than money, that she only embroiders well. Big deal, so he made a mistake there, but he said the truth about Morris, which Catherine was blind to see (she once said something obtuse like "I am everything he wants in a woman"). She was a grown woman. She had a mind and experiences with many people in her circle. Why couldn't she be understanding of her father's exasperation? Anyway, in the very next scene with her, the Doctor corrects his heated remarks: Catherine tells the Doctor that Morris deserted her, not the other way around. The Doctor then tells Catherine that Morris is a scoundrel she is fortunate to be rid of. The Doctor says: "you'll find some honest, decent man some day;" "You have many fine qualities;" that her fortune will make "it possible to choose [a husband] with discretion." " That seems OK to me. What more could he have said? Meanwhile, her boycotting her dying father is horrible and unforgivable.

(The other scene where the Doctor was harsh to Catherine: in the red dress scene, he says "but your mother was fair and dominated the color..." Harsh, I'll admit, but before that, in the same scene, he was gracious and told Catherine that she is "never a disturbing person" when she wants to see him and asks "Am I disturbing you, Father?" When he sees her in the dress, he says,"Is it possible this magnificent person is my daughter?. .... .... You are sumptuous, opulent. ... ... ... Look like a person with an $80,000 income!" Only when Catherine and Lavinia bring up the subject of the late mother and red did the Doctor make the harsh remark about her mother dominating the red color.)

(Also the Doctor spent much time trying to instruct Catherine himself and in showering her with outside socializing influences (best instructors, family, etc.) He implored family members to socialize her, accompany her about and beseeching her to join in on their doings. He could see that she was a "social mess" and tried every way he knew to correct it. This shows the Doctor's concern for his daughter. Also, with all the outside influences on her, it is hard to blame the Doctor for how she turned out.

Sorry for the long post. It makes me madder the more I see this great movie. To me the Doctor is the best person in the movie, and both Morris and Catherine are horrible people. On one hand we have the Doctor -- OK, so he is a little cold and sarcastic. So he expects too much of dull, introverted Catherine; he should have finally given up trying to socialize her long ago, I guess, and loved her unconditionally. But any normal parent would be concerned about and eager to educate such a shy child, who had to be unhappy with such shyness, withdrawal and awkwardness. That showed some love. I don't think he hated her or even came close to that.

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Re: I don't think Austin was a terrible father.

He blames her for her mother's death.

He despises that she's not a carbon copy of her "dazzling" mother.

He tells her she has NOTHING to attract a man but money.

He doesn't love her.

Re: I don't think Austin was a terrible father.

I agree with you.

We only see a short period of these characters' lives. What we don't see are the years before during which Dr Sloper had to have been criticizing Catherine at every turn, all because he holds her responsible for the death of her "perfect" mother. Cruel words are never forgotten.



The Fabio Principle: Puffy shirts look best on men who look even better without them.

Re: I don't think Austin was a terrible father.


We only see a short period of these characters' lives. What we don't see are the years before during which Dr Sloper had to have been criticizing Catherine at every turn, all because he holds her responsible for the death of her "perfect" mother. Cruel words are never forgotten.


I agree. He was a bitter, cynical, and arrogant man, who had a severely diminished capacity to love. The irony is, he had much to do with the creation of the "dull" and very insecure daughter, whom in ways he despised for just those qualities.

But I do think he loved her, in his limited way. He really didn't want her to marry a man he knew would only bring her unhappiness.

Re: I don't think Austin was a terrible father.



We only see a short period of these characters' lives. What we don't see are the years before during which Dr Sloper had to have been criticizing Catherine at every turn, all because he holds her responsible for the death of her "perfect" mother. Cruel words are never forgotten.


I agree. He was a bitter, cynical, and arrogant man, who had a severely diminished capacity to love. The irony is, he had much to do with the creation of the "dull" and very insecure daughter, whom in ways he despised for just those qualities.

But I do think he loved her, in his limited way. He really didn't want her to marry a man he knew would only bring her unhappiness.


I agree about Austin Sloper.

As I said in another post: I think Sloper does love his daughter with the natural emotions that come between parent and child. Even Catherine never said her father never "loved" her, she said he never "liked" her. There is a difference. You can be protective and caring over a relative even if you don't personally admire their character or qualities.

Re: I don't think Austin was a terrible father.

Venus, I agree. Dr Sloper's essential nature was restrained but cruel. His character type wasn't and isn't rare among successful physicians.

MDs used to cultivate facades of 'caring' needed to win and maintain a happy patient base. But in this era when most MDs are salaried corporate employees instead of responsible for the success of private practices, we're seeing less of doctors showing 'kind attentiveness' for vulnerable patients and more of the clipped detachment which MDs used to conceal.


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Re: I don't think Austin was a terrible father.


He doesn't love her.



I disagree. I think Sloper does love his daughter with the natural emotions that come between parent and child. Catherine never said her father never "loved" her, she said he never "liked" her. There is a difference. You can be protective and caring over a relative even if you don't personally admire their character or qualities.

Re: I don't think Austin was a terrible father.

R u kidding he was a douce bag.. He was worse than Morris... Putting her down saying he couldve have any woman he wants why would he want you that;s mean and cause of those words she never married Morris. The dad was comparing her to her mom saying she was ugly and a loser.... All she had was her money... That's it.. I felt like punching him the whole movie.

Re: I don't think Austin was a terrible father.

Catherine said it best. When asked how could she be so cruel she replies "I learned from the masters." She was, I am sure, referring to Morris, but more so she was referencing her father, who has spent her whole life belittling her and putting her down. It is inconceivable to me how anyone could look more favorably upon Austin than anyone else in the film, even Morris.

Masterful film with many fine performances and one of the greatest of all time by Olivia de Haviland.

Re: I don't think Austin was a terrible father.

yes he tried to open her eyes and he was right about Morris but he didn't do it because he cared for her, he was only thinking about his money.. he was terribly cruel and didn't even bother to apologise later, also it was probably his fault that Catherine had such a low self-esteem
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Re: I don't think Austin was a terrible father.

It was his money he cared about not Catherine. The Doctor never showed any affection or love towards her. He constantly criticized her because she wasn't like his perfect wife. When he did give her complament is was a backhanded one. He refused to accept her. When she said her dress was same color as her mom there was no reason for him to say something like your mom dominated the color yet the "great father" saying she wasn't good enough. When it would of been easy enough to say how lovely she looked and how her mom would be proud. She was clearly trying to please her father. She was never up to his standards. Its obvious she has been criticized her whole life. Even her Aunt took up for her. Catherine father didn't need to be so cruel to her, and yet again put her down as if she was dirt. He could have convinced her another way. Or just let her live her own life. Some people just need to see for themselves to understand. Morris treated Catherine the way she always wanted. Even though it was fake. She was didn't see he did not loved her. She had never had her father treat her nothing like filth. When handsome charming man comes along who (even though its fake) acts as if she loves her and show her affection its understandable she falls for his lies, because she had never had that kind of attention from other males, or her father who seems to enjoy putting her down as if she was dirt on his shoe. The great doctor should have showen her love when she alive. It's his own fault she didn't go to see him.

Re: I don't think Austin was a terrible father.

Isn't this a wonderful script, with a wonderful cast and direction, based on the magnificent Henry James: we can all see, with reason, different aspects of all the characters, and discuss them and ourselves!

I think we do see evidence that Dr. Sloper is in the habit of being disappointed in Catherine's lack of brilliance - we hear this very clearly at the party where Morris first enters. The doctor and his other sister are talking together about how the doctor sees Catherine, and he admits that he can't help but compare her unfavorably to his lost wife. As I recall (I'll have to watch the movie again), the sister says that Catherine has very good qualities of her own and that Dr. Sloper should appreciate them.

Later on, another small moment comes around which shows how Dr. Slope falls short in tact, and how Morris counters this: while all three of them are together, after the "music scene", Dr. Sloper remarks that he gave Catherine music lessons, but that she had no gift (he may or may not have compared this with Catherine's mother; I don't remember). Morris then says that Catherine may not be able to play, but that she has an appreciation and sensitivity for music that is also a valuable gift. Watch Olivia light up Catherine's face when she hears this (and watch Richardson's marvelously understated and complicated silent reaction!).

Dr. Sloper is not a bad man; under other circumstances, he would not be a bad father; in the larger scheme of things, he isn't a bad father to Catherine. But he is not the "right" father for Catherine - he doesn't understand her and doesn't really make much of an effort to do so - he isn't really equipped to: he's been in mourning for all of Catherine's life.

Re: I don't think Austin was a terrible father.

Her father was sadistic towards her in the most socialised ways. He crushed her spirit every time it came alive. He was awful and his behaviour to his daughter, his only remnant of his beloved wife, was inexcusable.

A bird sings and the mountain's silence deepens.

Re: I don't think Austin was a terrible father.

He was emotionally cruel to Catherine and I despise him for it. That being said though if he truly hated her and had not the smallest piece of love for her why did he not give her up for adoption at birth?

He hated Catherine because most likely her mother died giving birth to her. Her mother was a beauty and it's obvious he loved her very much, some part of him blames Catherine for her death but another knows she is his daughter. He inflicts emotional cruelty on Catherine yet provides her with the best of everything, so in his own way he is being kind to her. He is one of the most fascinating and complex characters ever written in my opinion.

He also acted in her best interests in regards to Morris. He could see Morris was just after her money and wanted to protect her because she was a trusting innocent in the world.

A large part of him is monstrous but he does have a few good qualities. I can actually see him as having been quite a kind and protective father had his relationship with Catherine been better.


Go to bed Frank or this is going to get ugly .

Re: I don't think Austin was a terrible father.


That being said though if he truly hated her and had not the smallest piece of love for her why did he not give her up for adoption at birth?


Name one rich person who ever gave up their child for adoption, especially when the child was not illegitimate? Giving up a child for adoption would be considered a truly horrible thing to do under his circumstances, and he would have paid for that.

Re: I don't think Austin was a terrible father.

I don't think he was a terrible father either. He just had high expectations. If he were a terrible father he would have just let her marry Morris. But he knew that Morris will spend all the money and he couldn't have had Catherine living in debt.
He was realistic about Catherine. I mean, she really was naive, unattractive, with no social skills, no charm. Her only appeal was the money.

Re: I don't think Austin was a terrible father.

The Dr. Sloper haters on here sound like a bunch of kids, who say their Daddy hates them because he tries to make her see what type of person this fortune hunter is. I guess in their eyes, he should have just let her do what she wanted, and married the cad,that's real parental love, when you let the kids do what they want, no matter if it hurts them in the process.

Re: I don't think Austin was a terrible father.

Finally, Dr. Sloper is getting praise here as, not the worst father in the world. He was trying to get his daughter to see what kind of man Townsend was, but, of course her head was in the clouds, and she wasn't going to hear anything bad about him, because he flattered her, and all she wanted to hear was good things about herself, whether it was true or not. She became angry at her father because he finally told her how it was. Also, Dr. Sloper didn't disinherit her, either.

Re: I don't think Austin was a terrible father.

In the book, he DOES disinherit her. They should have kept that in the movie.

Re: I don't think Austin was a terrible father.

Despite the fact that she didn't run off with Townsend? Was there anything else that was different? I think they should have kept that in the movie, too. She ended up hating her father, and every other man as well. I'd say fend for yourself.
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