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Leave Her to Heaven Reviews

Page 1 of 11
Bob S

Super Reviewer

April 4, 2007
Loved it!
Pierluigi P

Super Reviewer

May 16, 2013
Gene Tierney succeeds playing against character, substituting her angelic presence for a childish, treacherous and venomous femme fatale. Noir in blazing technicolor, beautifully shot.

Super Reviewer

January 16, 2009
Gene Tierney's character gets my vote as the most cold-hearted, sociopathic, beautifully packaged villain to ever grace the silver screen. On a scale of pure evil she's right up there with Hannibal Lector and the shark from Jaws.

Super Reviewer

September 5, 2010
This is probably Tierney's best performance ever! If you're a fan you must see this movie.
Cindy I

Super Reviewer

July 5, 2009
You think you have a spiteful girlfriend? No you don't. Let Gene Tierney show you how it's done. She beautifully WICKEDLY plays a woman in love with Cornel Wilde and goes to greater and greater lengths to keep him all the herself. And when she thinks she's about to lose him? She goes even farther. Nope, even farther than that.

The rest of the actors -- Wilde, Jeanne Crain, Dwayne Hickman and Vincent Price -- are fine in this film, but it is Tierney who makes it. Several times in the film she goes into this creepy blank-eyed stare that completely weirded me out.

There are a couple of things about the film I wasn't fond of -- the flashback narration I felt didn't work as well as if the film had been told straight, and I didn't like the closing frames. But the film is well-worth watching, if only for Gene Tierney's performance.

Super Reviewer

January 7, 2008
"leave her to heaven" could be considered iconclastic to gene tierney's divine woman image she has flashed in "laura" that also fathoms the depth of her acting scale. and tierney's irresistibly sugary charm is the best asset to blaze the shivering black humor of "leave her to heaven".

tierney plays a woman who falls head over heels in love with a writer who resembles her dead father. she obtains his love with her passionate but tactful courtship, then he marries her. afterwards all she schemes is to acquire the absolute intimacy exclusive of others, so she paranoidly resorts to murder and intented miscarriage to gain her little privacy with her hobby, and eventually she could go so far as to her own demise.

the first half of the flick is delusive with stale backset of a perfect household cozy atmosphere, tweedy wilderness, shimmering moonlight, and also a fair womanly creature awaits the prince charming she yearns for over the cliff. the deceased rot is only foreshadowed with the suggestive paternal fixation of tierney's bereft affections on her passed father. she behaves submissively pleasant with all her flirtatious hints to her beloved man. everything seems like a lyrical dream of ideal romance for anyman made of flesh and blood.

under the microscope, tierney's true self zooms in, a pathological manipulator whose love is as lethal as arsenic, but horridly coated with honey. she's literarily the pretty poison which lures you to swallow downward your throat insidiously, just like a serpent which crawls nearby then grasp you with her fatal bite clandestinely. her love is devoted but monstrously possessive that leads her to eliminate every possible candidate to distract her husband's focus upon her.

the electra complex is the main drive in tierney's character, as a daughter, she wants to devour her father's love all by herself, then as a mature woman, she obsessively seeks substitute from another man with similiar appearance. just like a girl who refuses to fledge into genuine mental ripeness but persistents on sheltering in the castle of the perennial paternal tenderness, the ultimate daddy's girl.

as one proverb in india's buddha textbook, a woman with honey in her mouth usually scatters poison in her heart. "leave her to heaven" shall be the best example. after viewing this flick, abrasive vixen like joan crawford (or bette davis or barbara stanwyck) would seem leastly perilous since danger is written soundly on her face. as a matter of fact, people should respect women with such candid expressiveness. don't you agree??
William S

Super Reviewer

September 19, 2007
Don't be fooled by the sugar coated first half of Leave Her to Heaven: The cute and romantic way the leads meet, Gene Tierney's luminous beauty (quite something in Technicolor), and the way everyone seems SO happy! It's almost cornball. But it's easy not to spot that this particular angel cake contains one or two razor blades beneath the sweet icing!
There is the occasional hint at the wickedness bubbling below the surface - the appearance of Vincent Price, her jealousy, her unnatural fixation with her dead father (not to mention the breathtaking scattering of his ashes), but nothing prepares you for the first jarring cut of those hidden blades.
Up until the first shocking realisation of Ellen's wickedness I was on her side - after all she only wants to be alone with her man, Richard (Cornel Wilde looking as bland as ever - Technicolor making him a lovely shade of beige!) And her crushed expression when her whole family turn up at their love-nest is so perfect it makes me laugh out loud that Richard can't see it! - they are already sharing with Richard's invalid brother (who says "Gosh!" FAR too much) and Richard's friend (the rather annoying Chill Wills). When the mother admits to Ellen's sister that they shouldn't have come, you think "Hell, yes!" they ARE on their honeymoon!!
Well she has had enough and resolves to do something about it and when it happens... your jaw hits the floor! (This is a woman who is quite unhinged) Then she does it again and again! She will stop at nothing to stop anyone getting close to her man.
There are moments of pure cinema here and Tierney captures the moment perfectly - even when she is hidden behind sunglasses her monotone delivery and glacial expression says it all and the scene with the staircase, she knows what to do and her eyes tell you everything you need to know about what she's thinking.
Gene Tierney is a stunningly beautiful actress and quite often she is dismissed as a serious performer because of this but under the right director she can be electric. Her films with Otto Preminger are a case in point and she is also good in The Ghost and Mrs Muir. This for me though is her finest hour.
By the end of the film I wonder to myself how bad Ellen really is - yes she does really wicked things - but she is obviously ill and her jealousy of her husband, as it happens, is ultimately justified! And yet no-one does anything to help her! Her mother especially, many times in the film, shows signs of knowing something is amiss.
You decide - is Ellen Berent a monster or a victim??
Stephen M

Super Reviewer

November 3, 2007
A marvellous film noir which transcends two of the general constraints of the genre by a) eschewing cityscapes for majestic rural locations, chiefly Maine and New Mexico, and b) being shot in glorious Technicolor. The plot is pretty twisted, there's a wonderfully melodramatic court scene climax, and the corny but romantic ending is the icing on the cake. One of the most stunningly photographed films ever made.
Michael G

Super Reviewer

November 9, 2006
Not the most amazing movie I've ever seen but if nothing else its an instructional film for avoiding psycho girlfriends.
John B

Super Reviewer

November 20, 2013
Similar to her turn in Laura, Gene Tierney shows up in this equally great melodramatic performance. One of the first film noirs in colour from what I understand, it is a post war masterpiece.
Anthony V

Super Reviewer

May 20, 2008
Gene Tierney plays a character deeply disturbing on so many levels. One of the greatest female psychopaths put on film!
Critique Threatt
Critique Threatt

Super Reviewer

May 12, 2010
This genuinely perverse and fascinating film noir, filmed in incredibly rich Technicolor, is the tale of a woman's obsessive desire to possess her husband, exclusive of anyone else in the world. Ellen Berent and her husband, writer Richard Harland, move to his lodge in Maine. In order to be completely alone with him, Ellen makes the handyman go away and stands by as Richard's attention-grabbing, crippled brother drowns in the lake. Pregnant Ellen also purposely miscarries their child. When Ellen's sister Ruth visits, Ellen's paranoia and jealousy catapult her to confess to Richard that she was responsible for the "accidents." Sickened by Ellen's confession, Richard decides to leave her for good. Ellen's next plan of action is quite possibly the ultimate revenge ever carried out by a jilted, crazed lover.

Overall a little bit slow(not much going) in the plot but starts to pick up speed during the third act and the darkness of Gene Tierney. Great visuals that would please audiences today.

Super Reviewer

September 4, 2008
A glorious technicolored film noir yet with some of the darkest subject matter of the genre. Gene Teirney is just amazing as the cold, possesive villian. The stand out moment in the film is about half way through, involving Teirney's character and her crippled brother-in-law. I won't say too much about it incase to spoil it, but the combination of the tranquil, luscious exterior setting and Teirney's expressionless face makes for one of the most sinister scenes in film.
April 10, 2012
an excellent psychological thriller. Gene Tierney is both charmingly beautiful and dangerously sinister, while Cornel Wilde is ideally cast as her unwitting lover and victim. the writing is crisp, the characters are solid, and the acting is terrific. the courtroom scene at the end got a little out of hand, though....for as bad as Vincent Price's character was as a lawyer, the judge was almost as bad for letting him get away with badgering his witnesses. overall an enjoyable round of mind games with a satisfying conclusion.
January 14, 2012
Judging against the overwhelming positive response to this movie, I am surprised and confused. Gene Tierny plays a woman who falls in love with an author. As they get married we see a little bit of manipulative behavior turn into outright selfishness and later to psycopathic craziness. Gene is mostly one note throughout this performace. Her manic behavior no more driven than her more pleasant scenes. As the male lead, Cornel Wilde is aloof and clumsy. Vincent Price puts in a quick and good performance, even if his courtroom scene is written overdramatically and less than believable.

At 111 minutes, the film is about 30 minutes too long. So many scenes are drawn out with inexplicable non-action like setting the table and walking slowly from one place to the other. The saving grace for this movie is reflected in it's Oscar win, Cinematography. The on location shoots in Technicolor are pretty awesome. Also impressive and fun to watch from a historical perspective is the wardrobe. A great representation of the times.

I'm sure the movie is getting some of its praise from the awful acts of the lead. They are great ideas for drumming up controversy. But I do not see the value in the way these ideas were written or performed.
February 18, 2009
A great movie - Gene Tierney nevef more beautiful. And she plays a 'evil' person indeed - delicious. One of my cheesy favorites!!
May 28, 2011
ok All I can say is I hated this woman for a long time after see this because I fell for her. Good looks.
September 22, 2010
Leave Her To Heaven is a Technicolor masterpiece and a smart film noir movie cleverly disguised as a 20th Century Fox romance film so popular at that time. Gene Tierney plays Ellen Berent a coldly jealous and manipulative sociopath who will stop at nothing and let no one get in her way. What she wants is wealthy author Richard Harland played by Cornell Wilde. Anybody who threatens their relationship including Harland's crippled kid brother and Ellen's own unborn child, then she has no problem eliminating so she can have her man. Gene Tierney is unbelievably beautiful in this film which makes it that much more hard to believe that her character can be so incredibly evil. A true film classic from Hollywood's golden age.
March 31, 2010
Good and evil with no shades of gray

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I recommend purchasing the DVD of "Leave her to Heaven" in order to listen to Darryl Hickman's recollections of working on the film as a 14 year old child actor, playing the part of Danny Harland, the crippled brother of the protagonist, Richard Harland (played by Cornel Wilde). Whether you agree or disagree with Hickman's comments, they remain fascinating and will give you insight into the making of this film.

Hickman recalls that director John Stahl treated him very poorly halfway into the making of the film. In the most famous scene in the movie, where Gene Tierney's character Ellen, allows Danny Harland to drown in the lake, Hickman states that he was forced to shoot many takes of the scene, swimming in ice cold water and freezing cold temperature. It was so cold that Hickman's stunt double refused to shoot the scene and Hickman was forced to act in the scene himself. At one point, Hickman got a cramp in his leg and he sensed that he was beginning to drown; Stahl ignored Hickman's pleas but fortunately an assistant on the set realized that the kid might be in serious danger and pulled him out of the water. The scene in the lake took almost three weeks to shoot. Hickman says Tierney was completely cold to him and seemed to support Stahl in his lack of support of the sensitive child actor.

Ironically, Stahl's attitude toward Hickman changed half way through the shooting of the picture. It seems that the producer, Darryl Zanuck, saw the rushes of the drowning scene and told Stahl that it was the most powerful scene he had ever seen in the movies. Stahl started to call Hickman by his first name and no longer referred to him as "son", which Hickman regarded as an insulting epithet. Now Stahl started to refer to Cornel Wilde as "son" and Hickman relates that the director treated Wilde very poorly throughout the rest of the filming of 'Leave her to Heaven'. In fact, Hickman maintains that Wilde told Stahl after filming was completed that he would never forget how Stahl mistreated him. And Hickman also maintains that Tierney treated Cornel Wilde quite coldly, always taking the director's side in his disparagement of Wilde.

Hickman's claims that Tierney didn't think much of Wilde's acting abilities is borne out by Tierney's recollections in her autobiography, "Self-Portrait". Tierney refers to the scene in the library and writes: "The scene was difficult for Cornel, who was meant to be weak and couldn't quite bring it off." She adds that Stahl turned to Wilde at one point and said, "They (referring to gaffers on the set) all seem to understand how the scene should be played, why can't you?" Hickman felt that Tierney's abilities as an actor were limited. He felt she was an emotionally constricted person who couldn't open up to people in general. He's aware that Tierney later had to deal with bouts of mental illness but concedes he knows little of the details of her personal life. Tierney was a troubled person during her career as an actor which she readily admits in her autobiography. One important point that Hickman is apparently unaware of is that Tierney gave birth to a retarded child in 1943 which certainly had a deleterious effect on her mental health in later years.

The conflict between Hickman and Tierney may have been simply due to the fact that Hickman needed more support since he was only 14 years old at the time he was working on the picture. Tierney on the other hand was probably more of a no-nonsense type who didn't believe in socializing while she was on the set.

Leave her to Heaven was sumptuously filmed in the Technicolor of its day. The 2003 digital transfer restores the faded colors of an earlier print to the plush hues we see on the DVD today.

The big problem with Leave her to Heaven is that the first half is all exposition. It's extremely slow-moving and we only get hints that something dramatic is going to happen. Finally, we're rewarded with the machinations of Tierney's evil Ellen Berent Harland in the second half. The high points come in spurts: Ellen sitting in the boat, casually doing nothing as Danny drowns; the shocking scene where she intentionally throws herself down the stairs in order to abort her unborn child and her grand exit where she commits suicide in order to facilitate her half-sister being charged with murder. Even today, those scenes pack an emotional wallop.

Despite Ellen's gripping histrionics, the other principal characters played by Cornel Wilde and Jeanne Crain, the husband and the half-sister, fit the typical victim mold of melodrama and are too beatific and wooden to be considered at all compelling. Speaking of histrionics, Vincent Price is much too over the top as the District Attorney with his one-note (and much too angry) grilling of Cornel Wilde while he's on the stand in the courtroom.

Finally I couldn't understand why Harland gets two years for "withholding evidence". It's inferred that the "withholding of evidence" occurred earlier in Harland's testimony when he fails to inform the court that Ellen stood by and let his brother drown. But where is the proof that Ellen actually did nothing? The court only had Richard's take on what had occurred and certainly that testimony is not backed up by any independent witnesses.

Leave her to Heaven will be remembered for its stunning cinematography as well as its portrait of a demented 'femme fatale'. Aside from a few classic scenes, it's a film that plods along and only manages to capture your attention during its most salacious moments. Leave her to Heaven descends into the morass of victim-hood, suggesting that there is only good and evil in the world and no shades of gray.
July 31, 2009
A solid film noir with an amazing performance by Gene Tierney, in one of her greatest roles. This garnered her only Oscar nomination. Very interesting and suspenseful, great direction and superb atmosphere.
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