Leave Her to Heaven

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Leave Her to Heaven (1945)

Directed by John M. Stahl

Written by Jo Swerling

Based on the novel Leave Her to Heaven by Ben Ames Williams

Starring: Gene Tierney, Cornel Wilde, Jeanne Crain, Vincent Price

A gorgeous socialite (Tierney) reveals a violent jealousy soon after marrying a successful novelist (Wilde).

This 1945 film is based on the 1944 novel of the same name, written by Ben Ames Williams (The Strange Woman). John M. Stahl (The Walls of Jericho) directed the film using the adapted script written by Jo Swerling (The Pride of the Yankees). The cast features an incredible list of talents beginning with Gene Tierney (Laura), Cornel Wilde (The Greatest Show on Earth), Jeanne Crain (State Fair), and Vincent Price (House on Haunted Hill).

Ben Ames Williams’ novel was a success in 1944, and Hollywood sought to capitalize in 1945. Jo Swerling adapted the novel, crafting a wonderful script that creates a rich world where entitled people live. The dialogue is written with an edge that at first feels playful, but later reveals much more intense emotions. Overall, this is a unique story that could’ve easily fallen into forgettable melodrama were it not for the great writing.

Gene Tierney leads this talented cast with a performance that is unforgettable. Her character is charming and passionate, and also cold and pathetic. She also has great chemistry with Cornel Wilde, giving their relationship a strong base that the story builds upon. Wilde is also great, evolving his character from optimist to lost soul with great skill. Jeanne Crain and Vincent Price also add good work to the film.

Film noir is often associated with big cities, dark alleys, and rough characters. This film tosses those expectations aside, inserting nature, posh people, and sunlight. The overall experience is a wonderful one, as the beautiful Technicolor cinematography juxtaposes perfectly with a dark and painful tale.

This film was nominated for four Academy Awards. The nominations included Best Actress (Tierney), Best Art Direction – Color, and Best Sound – Recording. Cinematographer Leon Shamroy (Cleopatra) took home the win for Best Cinematography – Color.

Fans of the film noir genre should make sure to see this one. It tells a familiar tale in such a unique and unfamiliar way. The acting is great, and the visuals are excellent. I give this one 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Rating: Passed

Runtime: 110 minutes

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