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Leave Her to Heaven


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When Leave Her to Heaven was shown at the TCM film festival, not everyone had seen the film, and there were gasps from the audience during the lake scene.

 

Another problem with the courtroom scene is that Jeanne Crain acts (or rather, doesn't act) as if she's attending a garden party rather than being on trial for her life. This is the only weak part of the film, for all the reasons already mentioned.

 

Actually, I'm glad Sirk didn't get his hands on it. The film would probably have been bloodless and campier, but that doesn't seem more desirable than what Stahl accomplished. Sirk did remake three of Stahl's films, by the way, including Imitation of Life. Stahl's Magnificient Obsession is well-acted, but very static in direction--"stodgy," as one poster called it--and he definitely had learned a lot by the time he made Leave Her to Heaven. I agree with the sentiment that Leave Her to Heaven is so good you expect it to be by a more famous director. Leon Shamroy's cinematography also has much to do with the excellence of the film.

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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.*

 

John M. Stahl was a successful producer/director going back to the silent period. He had many big important and popular movies throughout the 30s and 40s. He was under contract to 20th Century Fox only from around 1943 until his death at the end of the decade, so he was hardly *'a minion of Zanuck'*. He had several huge hits here as well, including KEYS OF THE KINGDOM, and LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN. He may have been one of Zanuck's favorites after these back to back blockbuster hits, but this was soon undone after Zanuck fired him in 1946 from the studio's most expensive film (till then), FOREVER AMBER. Apparently his static pace and Peggy Cummins' unsuitability did him in, and was replaced by Otto Preminger.

 

I think LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN is great just as it is, the questionable courtroom scene notwithstanding. The placid pace of the direction is matched by Tierney's apparent placidness, which helps mask her true nature. And the Technicolor scenery (Gene included) and cinematography is spectacular.

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*However successful Stahl had been, his name somehow has been relegated to obscurity (at least with me, which is hardly a true test).*

 

There are many successful directors from the Hollywood studio system that had solid careers, but are now next-to-unknown. At best, they may be damned, by those who think that only auteurs are worthy of recognition, with faint praise such as "workmanlike" or "competent" or "craftsmanlike", or at worst, "hacks", "studio stooges", etc. This is unfair to the majority of them, because it denigrates and belittles their real contributions to contamporanous audiences', and our current enjoyment of many classic films.

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

> *However successful Stahl had been, his name somehow has been relegated to obscurity (at least with me, which is hardly a true test).*

>

> There are many successful directors from the Hollywood studio system that had solid careers, but are now next-to-unknown. At best, they may be damned, by those who think that only auteurs are worthy of recognition, with faint praise such as "workmanlike" or "competent" or "craftsmanlike", or at worst, "hacks", "studio stooges", etc. This is unfair to the majority of them, because it denigrates and belittles their real contributions to contamporanous audiences', and our current enjoyment of many classic films.

 

Arturo, preach on! I love the directors that Fox employed during the 40s for their musicals, dramas and noirs...most people remember names like Henry Hathaway and Otto Preminger but no one thinks of directors like Irving Cummings and Walter Lang who pumped out much of the films that kept 20th Century's books balanced during the WWII years.

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I had never seen this movie til TCm showed it, though I knew about the famous scene and I'd always wanted to. I greatly enjoyed it, though I'd have to agree with Alec Baldwin about Cornel Wilde doing too much Leading Man acting. I thought that Gene Tierney did a better acting job than I ever thought her capable. And I thought it odd how much Gene Tierney and Jeanne Crain looked related.

 

Mostly I appreciated that her caharcter was three dimentional. I thought her turn to murder was quite realistic. I for one also felt annoyed that the husband kept bringing people into the honeymoon and they never got any time alone, then never had any hope of it. Very interesting.

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LonesomePolecat wrote:

*And I thought it odd how much Gene Tierney and Jeanne Crain looked related.*

 

Interesting observation. Many years ago, I read in a movie encyclopedia (don't remember which, I may own it for all I know), where the writer stated that in his/her mind (or parallel universe) (s)he saw Gene Tierney, Linda Darnell and Jeanne Crain as sisters, with their individual attributes as sibling individualism (and conveniently all stars at the same time at the same studio).

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*I disagree. I think Sirk would've been the better director for this project.*

 

Well, 20th would not have thought so. Sirk would never have been offered this project. He was just getting started, and even with a couple of minor gems under his belt, he had no contract with Fox, and was not of a sufficiently high profile for them to have thought of borrowing him. With the studio's top dramatic actress in a big budget, high profile movie, they weren't going to entrust it to a relative newcomer (no matter what his later success and reputation at the beginning of the 21st century might be).

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