Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, October 24, 2013


Gene Tierney
LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN (1945). Director: John M. Stahl.

"Nothing ever happens to Ellen."

Author Richard Harland (Cornel Wilde) meets a beautiful woman on a train, Ellen (Gene Tierney), who's reading one of his novels but doesn't recognize him despite his book jacket picture. (That should have been his first clue.) The two turn out to have the same destination, the home of a mutual friend named Glen (Ray Collins). Ray is also hosting Ellen's adopted sister [actually her cousin], Ruth (Jeanne Crain), and their mother, Mrs. Berent (Mary Philips). Although Ellen is engaged to Russell Quinton (Vincent Price), she and Richard quickly fall in love, and get married. At first Ellen does everything she can to ingratiate herself with Richard's crippled younger brother, Danny (Darryl Hickman), but when she decides that she wants to be alone with Richard, her actions become much darker, to put it mildly ... Wilde is fine, Tierney just short of excellent, Price is okay, and Crain isn't always up to her more dramatic moments, but Leave Her to Heaven is quite absorbing. If there's any problem with the movie it's that the final courtroom segments drag and are a little too unrealistic [Price, the rejected fiance, is the prosecutor, and keeps badgering witness after witness without anyone objecting], but there's a very well-done drowning murder sequence halfway through the movie. Another memorable sequence has Ellen scattering her father's ashes in the mountains on horseback. Alfred Newman has contributed a strong score as well. Stahl also directed the 1932 Back Street and many others.

Verdict: The Bad Seed's older sister [although it was made earlier]. ***.

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