Leave Her To Heaven (1945)
Reviewed on 2010 September 1
Overblown but still well-done classic about a crazy woman who will do anything to keep her man’s eyes on her and nobody else.
Ellen Berent (Gene Tierney) decides it’s love at first sight when she spots author Richard Harland (Cornel Wilde) on a train. We know from the beginning that Ellen is crazy, based on the way she stares at him and laughs it off, comparing Richard to a young version of her father. Richard apparently never heard of an Electra complex and paid more attention to her luminous blue eyes instead of the way she was staring at him, because he isn’t even alarmed when Ellen throws aside her fiance (Vincent Price) for him. Poor Richard is the last one to see the psychosis in Ellen.
The film struck me for how bold it was for 1945. Crazy is one thing; an Electra complex is a whole other level of envelope-pushing. Ellen is a piece of work all right, and Tierney played her perfectly. There are a few weaknesses here — it’s a little unclear on exactly how Richard falls in so quickly with Ellen’s family — but it’s still a good film, even if it veers a bit into soap opera territory. It was worth watching just to see Vincent Price, especially towards the end, in a rare role as someone who was nasty without stepping into Grand Guignol territory.
Three chocolate morsels.