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Deliberatepixel / Noir Monday: Leave Her to Heaven

Noir Monday: Leave Her to Heaven

Leave Her to Heaven Three weeks into this, I almost forgot it was Noir Monday. See, this is why I can't be trusted with an ongoing series.

But anyway. There's been quite a few movies made in the noir tradition since the advent of color, but Leave Her to Heaven, in all its Technicolor glory, is the classic example.

Like the other noirs I've discussed (The Dark Corner and The Strange Love of Martha Ivers), Leave Her to Heaven revolves primarily around a woman character - unlike the others, though, Gene Tierney as Ellen is all-around pretty reprehensible. She's beautiful, yes (one of the most unmentioned beauties of all time), but as Ellen she's also insecure, demanding, and literally insanely jealous. She breaks off her engagement with a strangely normal Vincent Price to marry novelist Cornell Wilde, then systematically "gets rid of" every one who threatens to come between her and her husband, including members of her own family, and is willing to destroy herself to do so. Even though Ellen might spring from a typical noir stereotype of the scheming femme fatale, she's portrayed with much more delicacy. Unlike the stereotypical noir women, who are evil without much explanation as to why, little clues about Ellen drop throughout the film about her psychological background (including hints at a disturbingly intense relationship with her late father) and how it developed her into who she is, and, by extension, why she's driven to do what she does.

While it stretches the traditional definition of noir, Heaven makes up for by being a genuinely twisted little drama, and, frankly, what seems to me a greatly underrated one - although Martin Scorsese, in his documentary A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese through American Movies also waxes poetically about it. There is a recent remastered DVD release out there now, so go forth and rent/buy away.



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