Reviews — August 2
“The Heiress” originated nearly 70 years earlier in the novel “Washington Square” by Henry James. In 1947, it was adapted as a stage play and, in 1949, made into a terrific film by William Wyler, who would go on to direct a wildly different movie called “Ben-Hur.”
Olivia de Havilland is simply awesome in the title role — the socially awkward daughter of a wealthy but emotionally distant father. She falls for a dashing young man (Montgomery Clift) who is objectionable to the father because he doesn’t have enough money. Is the fellow really after her inheritance, or does he love her? Or perhaps both? To his credit, Clift makes it a tough call.
This is a thoroughly engrossing, albeit emotionally claustrophobic film.
All the better if you haven’t read the book, because there are surprises, and they build to a genuinely powerhouse climax. De Havilland, who played a supporting role to Scarlett O’Hara in “Gone with the Wind,” showed here that she could easily carry a film. She’s in virtually every scene, and she’s brilliant.
“The Heiress” (1949) Directed by William Wyler. Starring Olivia de Havilland, Montgomery Clift, Ralph Richardson, Miriam Hopkins, Vanessa Brown, Mona Freeman and Selena Royle. Unrated. 115 minutes.
“The Price of Blood” is Declan Hughes’ third novel in a series about troubled, hard-drinking private detective Ed Loy (whom everyone refers to as “Ed Loy,” never simply as “Ed”).
Ed Loy lives in a world where it’s not only appropriate, but expected, to settle differences with one’s fists. For example, a prisoner he helped convict gets out and holds him at gunpoint, then drops the gun and pummels him; Ed Loy punches back, breaks the guy’s nose, and they’re on amicable terms again. Fists fly again when his closest friend confesses to a past relationship with Ed Loy’s new squeeze; they it’s over and they’re buddies again.
Maybe it’s a guy thing.
So it comes as no surprise that there’s plenty of violence in “The Price of Blood.” And not just fighting; a key part of the story focuses on child abuse carried out by the people whose job it was to protect orphans — priests as well as social workers. The story also deals with incest and how it can tear a family apart for generations.
And just to add interest, there’s an element of horse racing. A famous trainer experiments with bloodlines, breeding outstanding horses to each other despite their common parents. The result is a magnificent filly with a fatal weakness, an arrogant breeding error that foreshadows events in the trainer’s own life.
The action takes place over a few days right before and after Christmas, when the world should be at its most peaceful. Ed Loy’s world definitely is not peaceful; probably it never is.
“The Price of Blood” is subtitled “An Irish Novel of Suspense,” as if that wouldn’t be immediately obvious — maybe the publishing company thinks Americans are too thick to know where Dublin is; maybe it just wants to cash in on the popularity of other Irish writers.
Either way, the subtitle isn’t necessary — and Hughes’ style and story is certainly good enough to stand up on its own. I’m happy to have found a new author to add to my list.
“The Price of Blood” by Declan Hughes, 2008, HarperCollins.