110 minutes

Director: John M. Stahl

Producer: William A. Bacher

Cinematography: Leon Shamroy


Leave Her To Heaven. A film filled with gooey sentiment, a cringe worthy ending and a terrible support cast (even Vincent Price hams it up).


In lieu of all these clangers, why is Leave Her To Heaven one of the most spellbinding and disturbing films I’ve ever watched?

In part it’s down to the fact that this is a filmic curiosity.


  • It’s a film noir yet shot in brilliant Technicolor.
  • It’s filled with physiological terror out in the open not indoors.
  • It introduces the most chilling femme fatale character committed to film yet it’s made at a time when American family values were at its most saccharinely sweet.


Basically speaking, it’s a film that just should not be born into its surroundings. It shouldn’t exist in the time and place that it’s been made.



To backtrack a few steps, ‘Leave Her To Heaven’ tells the story of a successful novelist, Richard Harland, being lured by Ellen Berent into her web of insecurities. As Ellen’s possessive behaviour develops, anyone who vies for Richard’s affections is ruthlessly pruned away without him being in the know.

Similar themes of jealous femme fatale spouses have been played out in the very good but overlooked ‘Play Misty For Me’, ‘Fatal Attraction’, ‘Single White Female’ ‘The Hand That Rocks the Cradle’ and the completely ignored but one of Pauline Kael’s top films from the 90’s ‘The Last Seduction’ starring the disaffecting Linda Florentino.

What’s compelling about Leave Her to Heaven is the intensity with which Gene Tierney plays the lead femme fatale role.



Who, you say?

Gene Tierney was possibly the most overlooked Golden Age actress, who starred in just a smattering of films before her downward spiral caused by mental illness. Without writing too much about it she underwent Shock Therapy, which made her all the more distant and devoid of reality. The intensity of the performance I can’t help but wonder is Gene Tierney leaking some of her own Id into the role.

Leave Her to Heaven is certainly a treat – and the swimming scene is possibly the single most disaffecting scene I’ve have the (dis)pleasure to watch since I’ve started this blog.




Tips and Trivia about Leave Her To Heaven (1945)

  • One of Martin Scorsese’s favourite films of all time.
  • The swimming scene left the child actor with Pneumonia.
  • Like Gene Tierney? Try watching Laura (1944).


Can’t find it? You can buy it here.



Other Links for Trivia and Info on Leave Her To Heaven (1945):

Wikipedia entry



Rotten Tomatoes



IMDB entry



IMDB Trivia page






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