The Heiress was the top of the line in production values for early 1950s studio films, from William Wyler's sharp direction to the costumes of Edith Head. The entire cast is excellent, particularly Olivia de Havilland, who makes believable the transition of her title character from weak-willed spinster to a much stronger person at the story's conclusion. World War II had forever changed the role of women in U.S. society, and The Heiress, in the guise of a period drama, carried the theme of women's increasing power in the postwar years. This is just one of several films from the era that were thus both excellent dramas and interesting allegories. The film won four Oscars, including de Havilland and Head, a team of set designers, and composer Aaron Copland.