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Leave Her to Heaven

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I totally agree with what Robert Osborne said tonight about the lake scene with Gene Tierney and Darryl Hickman. I remember seeing this movie as a pre-teenager (probably 45 - 50 years ago) on TV and I could never forget that scene. I searched a lot of years for that movie, with only that scene to go on! I am so grateful that I eventually found it again on TCM many years ago, and rarely miss it when it is on!

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Gene Tierney's beauty in that movie is almost frightening and it hypnotizes me each time I see that film, to the point where I immediately want more after it's over. She's like a drug.

 

Also, I've never seen another film with so many flowers in it. They're practically in every scene, even seen in reflections in mirrors. The film is pervaded with flowers.

 

Truly a unique and unforgettable movie experience.

 

My only complaint is that after Ellen dies, the film becomes dead as well, and we're left listening to Vincent Price screaming in the courtroom like an idiot. The cinematography in the courtroom is stunning, but without Tierney, the intensity of the film is over by that point.

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That's an interesting comment about Tierney's absence in the last 20 minutes of the film. I wonder if it would've worked better if the story began in the courtroom, and then we flashed back to them meeting on the train...?

 

This way, we would be building up to her to appearance on screen and knowing that something terribly wrong had happened. After her death, we could've returned to the courtroom for the verdict, then dissolved to two years later with Cornel Wilde being reunited with Jeanne Crain.

 

I do agree that Vincent Price badgers the witness and found it a bit corny that the other attorney never once objected.

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It does fall apart in the last act. Price's histrionics are only rivaled by those of Raymond Burr in A PLACE IN THE SUN. However, Price does build such a case against Crain that it's hard to believe that the jury bought the testimony of Wilde. Or maybe it was Crain's fainting that did the trick. Either way it's completely unconvincing.

 

Even worse is that Collins never objects to the fact that Tierney's former fiancee is the prosecutor. Shouldn't Price have removed himself from the case owing to a conflict of interests?

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It?s interesting that Ruth wound up alone with Richard, with both the brother and Ellen out of the way.

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My ultimate verdict on this film is that

 

I give it a 7 out of 10. I really like portions of it...I think several sequences are well-done. My favorite sequence is not the drowning but the pregnancy part and the losing of the baby. Maybe I like this part best because it's really where we see the triangle of Tierney-Wilde-Crain at its strongest. Crain has very little screen time up until this section.

 

But I kept thinking during the viewing that this would've been even better if famed director of melodramas Douglas Sirk had made it. It would've been a bit more artistic and tongue-in-cheek, which is what I think it needs. It is so ultra serious in spots that it becomes unintentionally funny and corny. But Sirk would've mocked that aspect of the script with his choice of Technicolor visuals, extreme camera angles and work with the actors to almost over-do some of the more histrionic moments. Under Sirk's direction, we would've seen a bit more camp with Vincent Price and we would've probably seen some sort of twisted camp with the crippled boy.

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> {quote:title=ClassicViewer wrote:}{quote}

> I do agree that Vincent Price badgers the witness and found it a bit corny that the other attorney never once objected.

 

Price's performance is ham-handed and way, way over the top. Some defense attorney Ray Collins is, when he doesn't even object to all of Price's badgering and asked-and-answered examination.

 

And as soon as Qutinton (Price) has Richard (Cornel Wilde) read Ellen's suicide note, which states explicitly that she'd "rather die than give up Richard," Quinton's whole case goes out the window, because it establishes an alternative theory of her death, namely that she killed herself based on a motive she lays out in her own words and handwriting. Any good defense attorney would then use that to plant reasonable doubt in the jury's mind.

 

But, as I said, Glen Robie (Collins) wasn't a good defense attorney (though neither is Quinton if he'd introduce the letter into evidence knowing that it contains as passage in which Ellen practically admits that she committed suicide). Good help must have been hard to find up in Maine in the 1940's.

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Yes, I think the writing of the courtroom scene is insipid. It's all about having both of them confess their love to each other on the stand, not about a murder at all. Just completely overwrought. And as you said, the evidence is as phony as it comes.

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I was wondering about John Stahl, too. I will have to look more closely at his filmography. But he's basically a minion of Zanuck as far as I'm concerned. I get a studio made product more than I get a director-inspired product with this one. Again, it would've been even juicier and much more delicious with Sirk behind the camera.

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The interesting thing about *Leave Her to Heaven* is of course the pathological nature of Ellen's character. She "loves too much", she "can't help herself". I don't know if anyone agrees with me, but, horrible and evil though she is, I feel sorry for her, and I think in some way we're supposed to, hence the title .

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Did anybody see the Loni Anderson tv version? What were they thinking??? That nobody had seen the original??? Didn't Carol Burnett do a send up of Leave Her? At least we could get some laughs...or maybe those who saw the Loni version had some giggles.

 

Robert and Alec's comments were in the form of an apology for Ellen. They didn't get that Ellen was just a tad sociopathic. Apparently they missed the part when Ruth reminds Ellen how Ellen tormented her "in every way" when they were children. Ellen - a grown up bad seed.

 

I did appreciate Bob's praise of Jeanne.

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> {quote:title=misswonderly wrote:}{quote}

> The interesting thing about *Leave Her to Heaven* is of course the pathological nature of Ellen's character. She "loves too much", she "can't help herself". I don't know if anyone agrees with me, but, horrible and evil though she is, I feel sorry for her, and I think in some way we're supposed to, hence the title .

 

I think you are right. Early in the film, her getting upset about all the people around her house all the time, the thin walls where the brother could talk to the husband and wife through the wall, and the lack of privacy, seemed quite reasonable to me.

 

I assume the book took more time to make the transition from her being simply upset to being crazy, or, perhaps it took more time revealing that maybe she had always been a little nuts and finally she went off the deep end.

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No, this is not a fantastic movie. Not when compared to the greats. But I like the diabolical nature of Tierney's character. The drowning scene makes my skin crawl. As a fan of courtroom drama, I don't mind that scene either. My brother refused to watch the movie because it looked like a melodrama. And?

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This thing goes beyond melodrama into over ripe drama. Yes, one could watch for

the subtle shadings of Ellen's mental state, if there are any, but I like to just assume

she's a nutso from the start, sit back, and enjoy the crazy Technicolor ride.

 

Poor William Talman didn't do very well either when up against Perry.

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> {quote:title=jamesjazzguitar wrote:}{quote}

> Collins wasn't a very good cop either in Perry Masion!

 

I never saw Perry Masion. But in Perry Mason, Ray Collins made a great Lt. Tragg. He was a ferocious vulture, until Perry proved him wrong. Then, he was, briefly, amiable.

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Like every government offical in Mason (yes no 'I' in team!), Tragg was a failure and without Perry no crime would ever get solved.

 

Don't get me wrong I loved Collins in the role (he was a fine character actor and was great in many movies), but as a cop, he was no better than the DA!

 

Edited by: jamesjazzguitar on Aug 16, 2010 1:32 PM

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Thanks for the explanation...I did not know that.

 

However, I hardly consider Tierney's character to be on the same level as Queen Gertrude. She commits equally heinous deeds but we are missing the incest dimension.

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One scene that really stood out to me was when Gene is talking to the doctor and she blurts out "but he's a cripple! " or something like that out of frustration. Maybe it will come to me in the next couple of days why that scene stood out for me. I have the DVD and plan on watching sometime this week.

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That same scene stood out to me also. I believe it is because this is one of the first overt clues she has too very different sides to her. The look of the doctor after she makes this comment commuicates to the viewer the same thing.

 

Edited by: jamesjazzguitar on Aug 16, 2010 3:11 PM

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