Blu-ray Review: Leave Her to Heaven

STUDIO: Fox/Twilight Time | DIRECTOR: John M. Stahl | CAST: Gene Tierney, Cornel Wilde, Jeanne Craine, Vincent Price
BLU-RAY RELEASE DATE: 5/14/2013 | PRICE: Blu-ray $29.95
BONUSES: commentary, Fox Movietone News, isolated score
SPECS: NR | 110 min. | Melodrama | 1.33:1 | DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

Long championed by Martin Scorsese (Hugo) and a platoon of cinephiles as one of the great film noirs luxuriously garbed as an A-list Twentieth Century Fox melodrama, 1945’s Leave Her to Heaven makes its Blu-ray debut courtesy of Twilight Time.

Leave Her to Heaven movie scene

Gene Tierney is all about Cornel Wilde in Leave Her to Heaven.

Gene Tierney (Laura) has never looked more stunning as the alluring but erratic Ellen, a knock-out obsessed with her late father who falls madly in love with Richard Harland (Cornel Wilde, Gargoyles), a novelist who strongly resembles and apparently behaves like Ellen’s dear old dad. Rushing the two into marriage after she breaks off her romance with a rising D.A. (Vincent Price), the elegant Ellen soon begins to display intense feelings of jealousy and obsession, which doesn’t make things any easier—or safer—for her new husband, his disabled younger brother (Darryl Hickman), and her sweet half-sister (Jeanne Crain).

Based on Ben Ames Williams’ bestselling novel, Leave Her to Heaven is a forerunner to Fatal Attraction and other women-on-the-edge flicks of later years. And it’s a really juicy one, led by Tierney’s elegantly simmering performance, Leon Shamroy’s Oscar-winning cinematography (which comes off at its palette-perfect best on the Twilight Time Blu-ray) and director John Stahl’s precisely composed set-ups. Again, the film’s general story, natural settings and lustrous Technicolor give it the initial feel of a straight melodrama, but it’s overall mood and leading lady’s dangerous obsession (that remain potent until the final frame) land it squarely in noir territory.

Scorsese, who sites Leave Her to Heaven’s cinematography as an inspiration for his own New York, New York and Tierney’s costumes as the basis for Kate Beckinsale’s Ava Gardner garb in The Aviator, introduced a restored version of the film at the New York Film Festival several years back. He’s clearly a diehard fan – check it out:

This Twilight Time title is available directly from distributor Screen Archives.

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About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.