Leave Her to Heaven (1945)

“There’s nothing wrong with Ellen. It’s just that she loves too much.” Filmed in beautiful Technicolor and told in flashback, this eclectic film noir stars the absolutely gorgeous Gene Tierney in arguably her best performance as “Ellen Berent,” a mentally ill femme fatale whose obsessive love for her husband, writer “Richard Harland” (Cornel Wilde), and insane jealousy lead to tragedy: “I’ll never let you go. Never, never, never.” The terrifying incident that involves Richard’s handicapped kid brother “Danny” (Darryl Hickman) attempting to swim across the lake while followed by Ellen in the rowboat and Ellen’s “fall” from the stairs are simply two of the most disturbing scenes in film history. Directed by John M. Stahl, the film was based on the 1944 novel of the same name by Ben Ames Williams and adapted for the screen by Jo Swerling. The stellar cast includes Jeanne Crain as “Ruth Berent,” Mary Philips as “Mrs. Berent,” Ray Collins as “Glen Robie,” Gene Lockhart as “Dr. Saunders,” Reed Hadley as “Dr. Mason” and Chill Wills as “Leick Thome.” Also look for Vincent Price as Ellen’s jilted fiancé, “Russell Quinton,” who also serves as district attorney in the final courtroom scene (love the brilliant, rapid-fire cross examination!). The film won an Academy Award for “Best Cinematography” (Leon Shamroy). In addition, Tierney was nominated for a “Best Actress” Oscar but lost out to Joan Crawford (Mildred Pierce). The film’s title is derived from a line in William Shakespeare’s Hamlet: “… leave her to heaven, and to those thorns that in her bosom lodge to prick and sting her.”

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