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Leave Her to Heaven

Leave Her To Heaven (John Stah,1945)

John M. Stah
Cast: Gene Tierney, Cornel Wilde, Jeanne Crain
Genre: Film Noir, Drama, Thriller

A writer meets a young socialite on board a train. The two fall in love and are married soon after. But her obsessive love for him threatens to be the undoing of both of them...and everyone else around them too.

It had been years since I last seen this. I have to say, I was even more impressed with this the second time around. It's not your typical 1940s Hollywood film, it has a quality to it that's hard to describe.

It's a slow burn, like sipping on a glass of fine brandy. At first it's easy, mellow and smooth. Slowly there's a growing sense that something is amiss with Ellen (Gene Tierney)...but she's so beautiful in another worldly way, that we're drawn to her like a moth to a flame. Richard (Cornel Wilde) is an innocuous man, and it's easy to be in his shoes and fall for Ellen. Who wouldn't?

I love the way the film really takes the time to develop the relationship between the two. So many films rush from the first meeting, to being in love in the very next scene. The strength of Leave Her to Heaven is the way the film never rushes the story.

No one but Gene Tierney could have played this part. She gives Ellen grace, beauty and a strange ethereal quality that makes Ellen attractive and yet reprehensible all at the same time.

The other thing I love is the look of the film. The art direction is sublime. The theme of aqua is used often in the film and is associated with Ellen. In set design, aqua is considered a 'cool color' and Ellen is cold as she is beautiful.

I love the care the director put into the scenes, one that stands out is the stair case scene. We see Ellen take her time getting dressed, she picks out aqua shoes and dresses in an aqua & white print negligee, which matches the wall paper. All of this, for a particular event in the movie. This simply scene of getting dressed, expresses the mindset of Ellen.

I love this film.