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.
An adventuresome young man goes off to find himself and loses his socialite fiancée in the process. But when he returns 10 years later, she will stop at nothing to get him back, even though she is already married.
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
On 22 May 1944, after Twentieth Century-Fox purchased the screen rights to the novel, a Hollywood Reporter news item speculated that the studio would cast Tallulah Bankhead and Ida Lupino in the film. 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 »
I don't think I agree with those who have designated 'Leave Her to Heaven (1945)' a film noir. This Technicolor picture and it's surprising how much the presence of colour can distort the tone of a film feels much closer to the claustrophobic domestic melodramas of the same period, such as Hitchcock's 'Rebecca (1940)' and 'Suspicion (1941),' and Cukor's 'Gaslight (1944).' But there's one important difference. By reversing the gender roles, and placing the power in the hands of the wife, director John M. Stahl here creates a formidable femme fatale, personified by the lovely and luminous Gene Tierney. The vibrant Technicolor photography is certainly pleasing to the eye, and the saturated colours add a perhaps-unintended touch of the surreal, but the dazzling colour palette distracts from and obstructs the film's darker themes. As much as I wouldn't like to deprive myself of Tierney's sparkling green eyes, I think that, in terms of atmosphere, 'Leave Her to Heaven' would have worked better in black-and-white.
The film starts off in the classic noir style: told in flashback, the story opens with popular author Richard Harland (Cornel Wilde), who meets an alluring woman, Ellen Berent (Tierney), on a train. Ellen quickly charms Richard with her dazzling looks and strong personality; soon, despite her own engagement to a prominent lawyer (Vincent Price), she has proposed their marriage, an offer he finds impossible to refuse. Here, 'Leave Her to Heaven' takes a distinct turn in storytelling approach, abruptly shifting its attention to Ellen's perspective, at which point we begin to recognise that perhaps she isn't as lovely as her new husband has been led to believe. The new couple move to Richard's secluded lakeside lodge, where they must also care for his crippled younger brother, Danny (Darryl Hickman, giving one of those "excited boy scout" child performances that were popular in the 1940s). As the weeks go by, Ellen's near-obsessive love for Richard begins to brood anger, hatred and jealousy, culminating in the cruelest of acts.
Tierney's character initially elicits an amount of sympathy, especially given Richard's apparent inability to recognise his wife's desperate need for privacy and intimacy in their relationship. However, it doesn't take long before her behaviour, fuelled by suspicion and paranoia, becomes entirely contemptible, and there's no longer any trace of the charming enchantress we saw in 'Laura (1944).' Ellen's psychosis is an intriguing one: she was obviously obsessed with love for her own father what Freud called "feminine Oedipus attitude," or Electra complex and, following his death, subsequently fell in love with Richard, who bears a remarkable resemblance to him. Such is her passion for her father, through Richard, that she cannot bear to share him with anybody; thus, her mania stems from the simple notion that "she loves too much." Ellen's murders are shocking in their own low-key simplicity, and Tierney, who received her only Oscar nomination for the role, carries out her evils with an icily-impassive face. But, geez, even this chilling portrayal can't make me stop loving her.
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