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Critics reviews
Leave Her to Heaven
John M. Stahl United States, 1945
Ellen, in short, is as much a mystery as Laura is—but while Preminger delivered that mystery with precious little stylistic adornment, Stahl uses cinematographer Leon Shamroy’s voluptuous Technicolor palette and Alfred Newman’s operatic music to express its twisted main character’s impassioned psyche.
September 07, 2016
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Tierney’s performance—everything from her long, lean figure to her quivering, exotic expressions—was undoubtedly the best of her career.
November 18, 2015
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it is precisely the mismatch between the film’s gorgeous surface and its insidious cruelty that makes it, if not perhaps “plausible,” supremely disturbing and unforgettable. As she lies dying from swallowing arsenic—a scheme to frame her foster sister for her murder—Ellen’s face is bathed in white-gold light, a seraphic halo illuminating her final, diabolical crime.
October 22, 2015
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Stahl poses his characters in front of lavishly appointed settings — Southwestern ranches and New England cabins — whose colors, like Tierney herself, seem to bulge against their outlines.
July 01, 2015
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Although the color is as radiant as the emotions are hyperbolic, Stahl’s restrained direction yields a powerfully dreamlike quality—at times, the camera seems transfixed by Tierney’s gaze. Female self-sacrifice is replaced by selfishness, and romantic passion is distilled in the image of Tierney’s character scattering her father’s ashes while on horseback.
June 17, 2015
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Domestic to a psychotic fault, she sets her sights on destroying everything that would keep him away from her, positioning Leave Her to Heaven as a noir outlier, a sick-joke inversion that riffs off the creeping disengagement men invariably feel when forced into monogamy. Good luck with that happy ending behind the moon, Mr. Author.
May 28, 2013
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…No one would categorize [Leave Her to Heaven] as horror. Yet John Stahl’s Leave Her to Heaven contains one of cinema’s greatest monsters, and she is driven to destruction with such single-minded, inhuman ferocity that it seems downright supernatural.
October 29, 2012
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What if the film is actually a subversive critique of society’s repression of women? …The film possesses a subterranean commentary every bit as scathing as a Douglas Sirk melodrama, should one care to look for it.
January 14, 2011
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