Leave Her to Heaven (1945) starring Gene Tierney, Cornel Wilde, Jean Crain, Vincent Price
reviewed by The Masked Reviewer
Richard Harland (Cornel Wilde) elopes with a charming young socialite Ellen Berent (Gene Tierney). Only to find her family surprised by his appearance more than the sudden marriage. All seems to be going well for the happy couple until Richard decides to invite his little brother Danny (Darryl Hickman) to Ellen’s special summer home. Danny’s visit changes into Danny moving in permanently. All Ellen wants is to live a quiet happy life with Richard. Richard doesn’t understand that so he also invites her mother, and cousin to live with them for the summer. Ellen can’t stand this invasion of privacy anymore. You must watch Leave Her to Heaven for yourself. Because it has one of the finest portrayals of madness in film. This is an excellent film.
Cast of characters
- Ellen Berent Harland (Gene Tierney, Laura): This may be Gene Tierney’s greatest role ever. Ellen is a complex character that is sympathetic, yet monstrous at the same time. She is clever, charming, sweet, and elegant. But as you learn more about her, and her obsession you see her calm, calculating mind, and her vicious protectiveness. Even as she commits terrible acts, you still sympathize with her. She is lovable and relatable, but she is also violently insane.
- Richard Harland (Cornel Wilde, The Greatest Show on Earth): The “prolific” award winning author that marries Ellen. His books may be brilliant, but he is not.
- Ruth Berent (Jeanne Crain, O. Henry’s Full House): Ellen’s cousin who has not-so-subtly fallen in love with Richard.
- Mrs. Berent (Mary Philips): Ellen’s refined mother that knows what’s going on but no one ever listens to her warnings.
- Danny Harland (Darryl Hickman): A friendly young man that only wants to help.
- Russell Quinton (Vincent Price, The Last Man on Earth): Ellen’s former fiancee, and her only real friend, he doesn’t know about Ellen’s madness. He is the real victim in my opinion. He deeply loves Ellen but is used by her at every turn. Her family never thought of warning him about her mental state. He is hurt the most when he learns the truth about his beloved.
Leave Her to Heaven is a noir film shot in technicolor, the warm colors add to this dark tale. In the beginning, it’s warm, and inviting, but as the story slowly reveals its true colors it becomes a nightmare. The cinematography is beautiful and captures the loveliness of the film’s settings.
The problem with Leave Her to Heaven is the character, Richard. He is so naive it is unbelievable that a grown man would act the way he does. His thoughtless actions start most of the problems. When Ellen tries to explain how his rash actions are hurting her all he does is complain how she is being a poor hostess, and that she needs to cheer up. My dislike of the character Richard has no reflection on Cornel Wilde, he did a great job with what he was given.
Most of the characters are enjoyable, the scenery is beautiful, the camera work is excellent, the scenes are paced perfectly, and the story is fascinating.
I rate it 4/5 stars
Leave Her To Heaven is a stylish psychological thriller starring Gene Tierney as Ellen. She’s the stunningly beautiful wife of handsome writer Richard Harland, played by Cornel Wilde. Ellen panics as her perfect marriage unravels and Harland’s work and invalid brother demand more and more of his attention. Her husband becomes unnerved by her compulsive and jealous behavior. And when the people close to him are murdered, one by one, it is obvious that this dream marriage has become a full-fledged nightmare. Based on the best-selling novel by Ben Ames Williams. This film won the Oscar(r) for Best Cinematography (Color) and received three other Academy Award(r) nominations: Best Actress for Gene Tierney, Best Sound Recording, and Best Art Direction (Color)/Interior Decoration.
Editorial review of Leave Her to Heaven courtesy of Amazon.com
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 fiancee 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 BuÃ±uel loved it. –Richard T. Jameson