Her love might kill both of them!
Writer Richard Harland meets beautiful socialite Ellen Berent on a train traveling through New Mexico. A whirlwind courtship and marriage follow. At first things look rosy for the new couple. But little eccentricities and odd behavior start to add up to trouble.
Ellen is beginning to obsess dangerously about Richard. She exhibits signs of being a dangerously controlling, abusive personality, not wanting any of his friends around and isolating them from everyone they know. She also becomes highly manipulative and will literally do anything to break any contact he has, that she can’t control. Several people warn Richard that Ellen has displayed this behavior before.
This dangerous obsession soon leads to death and destruction as the situation flares out of control. The drowning of Richard’s younger brother brings the conflict out into the open and Richard has to face what his wife has become. Things only go downhill at this point and become more about simple survival for those trapped in Ellen’s wake.
Leave Her To Heaven is a cautionary tale of the dangerous power of love and the destruction that obsession can cause. One feels sorry for and at the same time, a little scared of Ellen. This is the kind of role that defines a dramatic actress’ career and Gene Tierney really comes out of her shell on this one. This film was released 1 year after Laura and her performance is shockingly different to the elegant, calm and likable Laura.
Gene Tierney’s portrayal of Ellen is haunting, beautiful and terrifying at the same time. An especially shocking scene involving the death of Richard’s disabled younger brother Dannie. You can see the subtle play of emotions across her face as she considers her options before leaving him to die.
Jeanne Crain is lovely as Ellen’s adopted younger sister who sees the madness unfolding but is helpless to stop it.
Jeanne Crain (L) and Gene Tierney (R) Cinematography fans will note their placement in the scene as well as the camera’s position.
Vincent Price gives his usual good performance as Prosecutor Russel Quinton, Ellen’s jilted fiance.
Vincent Price in good form.
The film was shot in color, but it feels like it should be in black and white. The dark tone of the story contrasts strongly with the strikingly beautiful technicolor and feels almost antagonistic to it. Visually, the film looks almost like a painting or an illustration from a children’s book. At the same time, a whirlwind of emotions and dark designs make this a darker story than most film noir films. Fans of the film Fatal Attraction will find a lot of similar themes in this one.
Verdict 4 Gavels out of 5
Dark storytelling contrasts with bright colors. A gorgeously shot but very dark and disturbing film about the dangers of obsessive love. Highly recommended to both film noir fans and fans of romantic films wanting something a little darker than typical in the genre.