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.
Barbara Vining, a teen-age girl in a small English town falls in love with her teacher Stephen Barlow, who has no interest in her other than as a pupil and has done nothing to encourage her... See full summary »
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
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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