Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Cinema Tuesdays {Leave Her to Heaven}

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From 1945, Leave Her to Heaven is so named after a quote from Act 1 of Hamlet, where the Ghost advises Hamlet to leave his mother out of his revenge bloodbath so that she may be judged after she dies. After watching the film, I think that it should have been called Send Her to Hell instead.
From what I have read on the internet, people have a great deal of difficulty pinning down what type of genre this film falls under. Some say it's Film Noir in colour, others say that it's a dramatic thiller. I would say that it's a Noir-ish horror picture.
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Gene Tierney earned her only Oscar nomination for playing Ellen and she really did earn it. If only she had been given for roles like this one, instead of just playing the beautiful good girl.
Ellen is young, beautiful, wealthy, mentally ill and she always gets what she wants. On the train to New Mexico she meets Richard, a young, successful writer, who just happens to be the spitting image of her recently dead father. Ellen was in love with her father and obsessively attached and devoted to him. Naturally, she sets her sights on Richard, who just happens to be spending the weekend at the same ranch as Ellen, her mother and sister Ruth are.
Ellen courts Richard and aggressively proposes to him. Poor Richard is blinded by her beauty and ignores the cryptic warnings of Ellen's family and friends and soon they marry with Ellen vowing to "Never leave you. Never!!!".
Ellen plans to spend the rest of her life alone with Richard, cut off from the rest of the world as much as possible. Only things get in the way of Ellen's plan. Like Richard's devotion to caring for his young, crippled brother. And her mother and sister dropping by for a visit. And Richard insisting on spending a few hours a day writing his new novel. Silly Richard, working to earn money to live on.
Gene Tierney is fantastic in this role. She uses her soft voice to show the maliciousness and creepiness of her character. Over the course of the film, Ellen goes from being a beautiful Daddy's girl who "loves too much" to a way too devoted wife and then she slowly spirals downwards from being angrily miserable, then unreasonably paranoid, then a vindictive bitch, then homicidally jealous to finally just plain psychotic, as evidenced by her crazy eyes above.
In sharp contrast to the dark subject matter and that chilling scene on the lake is the eye-popping use of Technicolor and the gorgeous Forties outfits. The beauty of the costumes and sets and the stunning use of colour make up for the disturbing plot and Ellen's crazy eyes.

And I so want Gene Tierney's hair style in this film.

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Gorgeous blue club car. I love train travel, don't you?
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Vincent Price (before he was Vincent Price) is fantastic as Ellen's jilted boyfriend and he is positively theatrical is the final courtroom scene.
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See Richard, I'm the perfect wife. And I'll never leave you. Ever!
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I like to watch you sleep, my precious. You look so much like Father, if only the cabin walls weren't paper thin and your crippled brother didn't have the room next to us.
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Pink pants, you don't see that every day.
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Poor Richard. If only you had gone after Ruth, the sane gardener sister, you wouldn't be realizing that there's something wrong with Ellen.
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No one has ever looked cooler whilst rowing a boat.
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I can see you my darling
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Why are you all looking at me?
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Closet shot!
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Pretty wallpaper
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Would you believe that these are Ellen's house slippers?
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Couldn't find the trailer, so instead here's the train scene. Ellen seems normal here, right?

1 comment:

kim said...

I love this movie. I have it on DVD. She is so evil in this one. The title of the movie has always confounded me!