Washington Square (film) In 1850s New York, shy and awkward Catherine Sloper, the daughter of a wealthy and distinguished physician, and favored by neither beauty nor brilliance, is tottering into spinsterhood when she falls wildly and tempestuously in love with the smooth and dashing wastrel, Morris Townsend. She is encouraged by her incurably romantic and sympathetic aunt Lavinia. Catherine is heir to an imposing fortune, and her father, who does not hold a high opinion of his daughter, is highly suspicious of the young man’s intentions, feeling that he is only after her money. He does not see how a man of such youthful charm could possibly be in love with his daughter. Thus, Catherine is forced to make a fateful choice that will affect her happiness and the rest of her life. A Hollywood Pictures film in association with Caravan Pictures. Directed by Agnieszka Holland. Released in New York on October 5, 1997, and in an additional limited number of cities on October 10. Stars Jennifer Jason Leigh (Catherine Sloper), Albert Finney (Dr. Austin Sloper), Ben Chaplin (Morris Townsend), Maggie Smith (Aunt Lavinia Penniman), Judith Ivey (Aunt Elizabeth Almond). 115 min. From Henry James’s classic novella, which had previously been adapted for Broadway in 1947 and William Wyler’s 1949 film, The Heiress, with Olivia de Havilland winning an Oscar for her portrayal of Catherine Sloper. Since Washington Square in New York City no longer looks anything like it did in the 1850s, the filmmakers turned instead to classic Union Square in Baltimore, Maryland, for their location filming.