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Leave Her to Heaven (1945)

Not Rated  |   |  Drama, Film-Noir, Thriller  |  20 December 1945 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 7,379 users  
Reviews: 115 user | 71 critic

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 them and everyone else around them.



(screenplay), (novel)
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Won 1 Oscar. Another 4 nominations. See more awards »



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Complete credited cast:
Russell Quinton
Mary Philips ...
Mrs. Berent
Dr. Saunders
Dr. Mason
Leick Thome


Novelist Richard Harland and socialite Ellen Berent meet on a train to New Mexico. They are immediately attracted to each other, soon fall in love and decide to get married, about which everyone they know is happy except Ellen's fiancé back home, politician Russell Quinton. However, Richard and Ellen's love for each other is different than that of the other as Ellen demonstrates in the manner which she tells everyone of their impending marriage. Ellen's love for Richard is an obsessive, possessive one, much like the love she had for her now deceased father, who Richard physically resembles. Ellen wants Richard all to herself and resents anyone who even remotely takes a place in his life and heart, even if his love for that person is not a romantic one. These people include most specifically Richard's physically disabled teen-aged brother Danny Harland, Ellen's own adopted sister Ruth Berent, and a young man neither has gotten a chance to really know yet. After time, Richard learns to ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Hers was the deadliest of the seven sins. See more »


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

20 December 1945 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Que el cielo la juzgue  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)



Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The PCA approved a November 29, 1944 draft of the film's screenplay, while strongly cautioning the studio about the depiction of Ellen's forced miscarriage: "It will be absolutely essential to remove any flavour...that Ellen plans to murder the unborn child merely because she is misshapen. It should be definitely established that her reason for murdering the child is that she thinks that the newborn will replace her in her husband's affections. This is important in order to avoid any of the flavour that is normally connected with what could be termed 'abortion.'" A February 7, 1945 script draft was disapproved because of an inference that "Ellen" and "Richard" had "an illicit sex affair" before their marriage. The studio was again cautioned about the miscarriage, and the PCA approved a later screenplay. See more »


Ellen is watching Danny drown and she turns to see Richard coming toward the lake house, which is some distance away. However, when Richard jumps into the lake and begins swimming, Ellen and the boat are very nearby. See more »


Richard Harland: When I looked at you, exotic words drifted across the mirror of my mind like clouds across the summer sky.
See more »


Featured in M*A*S*H: House Arrest (1975) See more »


Chickens in the Garden
aka "Treat My Daughter Kindly"
Sung by Chill Wills
See more »

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User Reviews

Incest through a third party.
14 August 2003 | by See all my reviews

The melodrama of which Stahl was one of the masters throughout the thirties had muted,probably because the importance of the film noir in the following decade."Leave her to heaven' is as much a film noir as a melodrama.What's particularly puzzling is the color.

Like some Lang ,HItchcock or Tourneur works ("secret beyond the door" "spellbound" or "cat people",for instance) ,this is par excellence a Freudian movie.The heroine has never solved her Oedipus complex :she has always been in love with her father -dig the scene when Gene Tierney rides her horse as she throws her father's ashes away.

The love she could not make with her father ,she will make it through a third party: a husband who resembles her dad.

This could be fine.She loves her husband to the exclusion of all others .But there are others ,and they are all living threats.So these intruders will be enemies.The scene when Tierney sees her family coming through binoculars can be compared to an attack of Indians or bandits when the hero is alone in a remote fort in an adventure film ,as Bertrand Tavernier pointed out in "50 ans de cinéma américain".

Had the heroine preserved her intimacy -and how stupid her husband was not to have understood that!-,maybe nothing would have happened.THe color,which might seem irrelevant in a film noir ,is actually necessary because "back of the moon" ,the island in the middle of the lake is a paradise ,soon to become a lost paradise,then a living hell.

A probably never better Gene Tierney outshines every other member of the cast ,which is first-rate though.Little by little,we see her become a monster ,and the actress's performance is so convincing (along with a superb script from which a lot of today's writers could draw inspiration) that it gives her horrible crimes an implacable logic.Like in a Greek tragedy.

"Leave her to heaven " is by no means "romantic trash" .It's the crowning of Stahl 's career in which he transcends both melodrama and film noir.

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