Directed by: John M. Stahl
Genre: Drama, Romance, Noir
Runtime: 110 Minutes
Leave her to Heaven was released in 1945, not long after WWII ended. At the end of WWII several films based on addiction and obsession where released and this was one of them. With brilliant award winning performances, Leave Her to Heaven is a story about a mad with love woman. I checked this one out because I heard Vincent Price was in it, and I have seen a good lot of his films now, so he caught my attention. So this is a pretty old film, but is in beautiful colour. The film is about a woman mad with love of her husband that she goes to extreme lengths to stop others getting in the way. The film shows that love isn’t always a good thing which is why I’m reviewing it. The first 15 minutes of the film where pretty boring, and the film is actually based on a man telling another man the story of the main character [I will explain properly later]. The acting is very well done, as it usually is with these classics, but for some reason I can see how classic Hollywood is spoofed. A lot of the time there is so much drama going on in these classic dramas, but I guess it’s in the genre title. Regardless of that, it’s understandable emotion and the film is pretty inventive and interesting to watch.
The film opens with our main character Richard Harland (Cornel Wilde), a novelist who has just arrived from Prison where he stayed for two years and is now on his way to his new wife [cleverly explained later]. In a flashback (which runs for almost the whole duration of the film) we see how Richard meets beautiful socialite Ellen Berent (Gene Tierney) on a train. Ellen falls in love with him, mainly because he so closely resembles her recently deceased father, to whom she was obsessively attached. Ellen is already engaged to another man (Vincent Price), but she jilts him and rapidly marries Richard, who at first is fascinated not only with Ellen's beauty, but with her exotic and intense manner. From there onwards it’s an emotional roller-coaster of Ellen’s mad love for Richard.
A Story of Love, madness and deceit
What I mean by that is how Ellen will go to extreme lengths to block out everyone to be with Richard. It gets to the point where she tries to get her own sister arrested. Halfway through the film, Ellen and Richard are married so they decide to go to the back of the moon, a relaxed location, and sort of a resort place where they get a cabin. Richard brings his younger brother, who is disabled from the hips down and this annoys Ellen during the time at the cabin. Eventually after Richard tries to surprise Ellen by inviting her sister and mother up –which doesn’t go to well- one day Ellen is with Richard’s brother Danny. They are at the river and Danny is trying to swim more than he can, with the help of Ellen who is clearly trying to end him and it’s one of the most intense moments in the film. She keeps encouraging him to swim more as she follows him along in her boat but soon he gets a cramp. He shouts for Ellen’s help, but Ellen just watches him drown with her sun glasses on. It’s one of the most powerful scenes in the film and just brought out how selfish and evil Ellen is. Mental illness never looked so seductive or bit with such a ferocious over-bite as from Gene Tierney's demented character
This film was nominated for 5 awards, and took home one of those awards for Best Cinematography. I think it is definitely worthy of that award as the chemistry of the film was magnificent. The interesting thing about films like this is you know nothing is done with computers or big ass camera equipment. The effort that people put into films back then is fascinating and it’s easy to see why this film is so powerful. It has terrific acting, great sets and of course a brilliant screenplay. In total Leave her to Heaven is a great film if you can appreciate and understand the message of the story and I just loved it!
Visuals & Editing: 7.9/10
Direction & Cinematography: 8.4/10
Direction & Cinematography: 8.4/10