leave her to heaven, 1945 (dir. john m. stahl, starring: gene tierney, cornel wilde)
leave her to heaven is part melodrama and part noir. the subject matter and acting definitely make it a noir film. the lighting and cinematography doesn’t quite fit the genre, though. the dialogue and the score bring the melodramatic elements. ellen (gene tierney) meets novelist richard (cornel wilde) on a train. there is instant chemistry and the two leads do a great job of portraying that. ellen loves richard very much, bordering on the obsessive and possessive side. her mother says that “she loves too much.” she will stop at nothing to have richard all to herself. her jealousy over the other people in richard’s life is a bit extreme. she gets a look on her face that makes one anxious. what is she going to do? there is a particularly chilling scene that takes place on the lake between her and richard’s younger brother, danny. i think she could have very well been nominated for the oscar for this scene. it’s captivating to see how far she will go in the name of love. gene tierney commands attention and you can’t take your eyes off her. she looks like a more beautiful olivia wilde. she gives a wonderful performance as this femme fatale. you have to forgive some of the melodramatic acting choices for that was typical of the time and the genre. although, the over dramatic musical score is hard to forgive even though it, too, is characteristic of the genre. it was almost silly.
other highlights include the setting and camera work and vincent price. the film is set in maine, new mexico, georgia, and bar harbor and some of the exterior shots are amazing. the scenery is grand and striking and captured in brilliant technicolor. the film did receive an academy award for best cinematography (color). vincent price known for his roles in horror films was an added bonus as russ, ellen’s ex-fiance and lawyer. he is intense in the courtroom questioning scenes towards the end of the movie. that trademark voice making the climactic summation all the more powerful.
overall, a very cool old movie.
rating: 9/10 (one point deducted for that silly over dramatic score and some weak plot points)