Leave Her To Heaven (Bilingual)
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Though she is engaged to a politician (Vincent Price), Ellen (Gene Tierney) lures the handsome Richard (Cornel Wilde) into marriage after knowing him just a few days. But Richard learns from her sister (Jeanne Crain) and mother (Mary Philips) that Ellen's selfish, possessive love has ruined other people's lives. When his own brother drowns while in Ellen's care and she has an accident that kills her unborn child. Richard grows increasingly suspicious of her unsatiable devotion.
Leave Her to Heaven is one of the most unblinkingly perverse movies ever offered up as a prestige picture by a major studio in the golden age of Hollywood. Gene Tierney, whose lambent eyes, porcelain features, and sweep of healthy-American-girl hair customarily made her a 20th Century Fox icon of purity, scored an Oscar nomination playing a demonically obsessive daughter of privilege with her own monstrous notion of love. By the time she crosses eyebeams with popular novelist Cornel Wilde on a New Mexico-bound train, her jealous manipulations have driven her parents apart and her father to his grave. Well, no, not grave: Wilde soon gets to watch her gallop a glorious palomino across a red-rock horizon as she metronomically sows Dad's ashes to the winds. Mere screen moments later, she's jettisoned rising-politico fiancé Vincent Price and accepted a marriage proposal the besotted/bewildered Wilde hasn't quite made. Can the wrecking of his and several other lives be far behind? Not to mention a murder or two.
Fox gave Ben Ames Williams's bestselling novel (probably just the sort of book Wilde's character writes) the Class-A treatment. Alfred Newman's tympani-heavy music score signals both grandeur and pervasive psychosis, while spectacular, dust-jacket-worthy locations and Oscar-destined Technicolor cinematography by Leon Shamroy ensure our fixed gaze. Impeccably directed by the veteran John M. Stahl (who'd made the original Back Street, Imitation of Life, and Magnificent Obsession a decade earlier), the result is at once cuckoo and hieratic, and weirdly mesmerizing. Bet Luis Buñuel loved it. --Richard T. Jameson
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Top Customer Reviews
However, the movie itself is what we used to call in grade school, nasty. Gene Tierney plays an amoral woman who will stop at nothing--and it just gets worse and worse--to keep Cornel Wilde all to herself. The other reviewers have characterized her as psychopathic, and she must be, to be so obsessed with Cornel Wilde of all people! He doesn't really do anything to deserve all this attention from her, except for a tell-tale detail: he resembles her late father, whose ashes Gene spreads all over New Mexico while bouncing somewhat suggestively on her horse. So there's this ever-so-slight suggestion of incest at the beginning of the movie, although we never really go much more into it.
Still, campy cult film that it is, I enjoyed this movie until she went out on the lake with Corne's crippled brother--that's the nasty part, I'm afraid. She encourages him to swim beyond his endurance and lets him drown in front of her. Now, although she goes on to do some other awful things throughout the movie, this one scene was too upsetting for me, reminding me of the scene in the original "Frankenstein" between the monster and the little girl he kills. It's too discordant, frankly; while the rest of the movie is kind of absurd in its campiness, this is something very different, very sadistic. In fact, because of that one scene, I can never really recommend this movie to my friends, although I wistfully mention the wonderful photography. So, if you are beyond being disturbed by mistreatment of the vulnerable, you'll be able to enjoy this movie quite thoroughly; if not, be prepared to fast-forward when they hit that lake.
The stunning Gene Tierney, probably one of the most beautiful actresses ever to grace the screen was reaching her peak in early 1945 when this film went into production having already filmed the classic "Laura" two years earlier. With "Leave Her To Heaven" she got her one Academy Award nomination playing the disturbed and manipulative Ellen Berent a priveledged young lady who sets her sight on something and never lets up until she has obtained it. In this instance the object of her affection is Richard Harland (Cornel Wilde)a successful writer who she meets on a train and later marries. The film chronicles her slow descent into an obsessive need to keep Richard to herself at the expense of family, friends and even human life. Her psychopathic need to keep her husband to herself finds her jilting her current fiance (Vincent Price) without so much as an explanation, alienating Richard's friend Leick (Chill Wills), deliberatly loosing her unborn baby, and in the most disturbing and indeed most famous scene in the film, allowing Richard's younger brother to drown in a lake. This last scene never fails to upset me when viewed and Gene Tierney is chillingly scary in the scene hidden as she is behind dark glasses while the boy is drowning in front of her.Read more ›
If deficient from point of view of original story richness, we can still enjoy this film. And dig that gorgeous stoney lakeside house filling the screen!
I'm surprised there isn't a larger cult following for this brilliantly colored, yet strange movie. Its romantic plot would appeal to the grandma/auntie/housewife/lovestruck set; and its more noirish themes are dark enough to appeal to cult film fans and film noir fans alike.
I love this film. I have seen it three or four times. If your taste is for visually compelling American film, you should surely own this gem. The only people I might suggest steer clear, are Schwarzenegger fans and lovers of obtuse special effects. There is another kind of compelling beauty here.
Seen within the context of its times, it is easy to understand why LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN was one of the great shockers of its day. Based on a popular novel by Ben Ames Williams, the film tells the story of Ellen Berent, a woman who seems absolutely flawless in every way imaginable: she is beautiful, intelligent, and of good social background. But she is also a psychopath who marries novelist Richard Harland (Corniel Wilde) because he looks a bit like her dead father, to whom she had an obsessive attachment--and once married she determines to have him completely to herself, even if that means destroying any one with the slightest claim on his affections.
Seen today, LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN has a clunky feel to it: the script has all the nuance of a wrecking ball in full swing. But the film still fascinates by virtue of the visual beauty (it won an Oscar for color cinematography) that overlays its very direct story of darkest evil, with Gene Tierney's performance as Ellen the pivotal point. Tierney was never more breath-takingly beautiful, and although her performance lacks nuance it is surprisingly powerful in its simplicity.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
The story dulls a little bit, but the cinematography is absolutely beautiful.Published 13 months ago by Sara
Ai retourné le dvd car il n'était pas bilingue anglais/françaisPublished 14 months ago by Jacques Brunet
The movie "Leave her to Heaven" is a wonderful psychological thriller. The cast and script are great It, and performances great too. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Alderson
Have watched this movie many times already and thoroughly enjoy it every time! What I like about this film is that although Gene Tierney's character is absolutely stunning and that... Read morePublished on July 4 2013 by maple leaf
By its very definition, "film noir" (meaning, dark film) does not encompass Technicolor productions. A shame, since Darryl F. Read morePublished on March 5 2005 by Nix Pix
This 1945 Technicolor "film noir" happens is the most visually beautiful picture that has ever been photographed. Read morePublished on Feb. 11 2004
Since others have very eloquently outlined the intriguing plot and described the talents of the beautiful but ultimately tragic Gene Tierney already, I will only add that if you... Read morePublished on Aug. 31 2003
While working for an internet used book service I happened to get my hands on the book on which this movie was based. Read morePublished on May 24 2003
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