Saturday, June 16, 2012

Leave Her To Heaven. 1945

Delirious Delirium. On a streamlined Technicolor drenched train going to New Mexico, a young author (played by the very handsome Cornel Wilde) catches the very lovely Gene Tierney reading his latest novel, and starts swooning and mooning all over the place. Gene looks up from her reading and is mesmerized by the sheer beauty of Cornel Wilde and before you know it, they are flirting wild and wooly 1945 style and Gene tells Cornel how much he reminds her of her dear dead daddy, of course when her daddy was young and not dead and acting as if she doesn’t realize that Cornel is the author of the book.  This is the pivotal line and scene of this hot house woman’s movie with a blood red streak running through it, and it warns us the audience that there is going to be a lot of trouble and plot coming down the line. Off to a cute start the two realize that they are visiting the same person in New Mexico played by Ray Collins and that Gene is meeting her family there to spread around the desert the ashes of her father who died a few years before, thus setting up one of the great camp scenes of the entire decade.  Gene early one morning madly rides out on a horse to the desert throwing her father’s ashes all over the place looking beautiful and possessed as she does the throwing. Collins who is a lawyer friend of everyone (and who tells the story in a flashback) lives in this fantastic house with a swimming pool carved what looks like out of the side of a mountain that abuts the house, and looks like it just goes on forever and ever. Water plays a big symbolic role in this movie. Gene Quickly gets her shinny red fingernails into Cornell and within the hour she dumps her boring fiancée played with over cooked hilarity by the hammy Vincent Price and marries Cornel. Off to the side is her standoffish mother, who knows more about her daughter than we do, and her sweet half sister played by Jeanne Crain who of course is secretly in love with Cornel. Soon bad things start to happen; all instigated by Gene who we finally realize is fucking nuts, and is jealous of anyone who throws her lovely lovey dovey even a glance including her innocent virginal half-sister and Cornel’s dependent sweet young disabled brother played with earnest adulation for big brother Cornel by Darryl Hickman.  Gene is acting crazy jealous and in another one of the great camp scenes of the 40’s, she lets little brother drown one lazy afternoon while they are out rowing on a lake in Maine. Tierney who got her only Oscar nomination for this film no doubt impressed the academy with this  scene in which she dons her sunglasses to block out her eyes from us as she coldly watches little Darryl get a cramp and disappear under the water. This ain’t no nice Laura from the year before and more nasty and nutty behavior follows with Gene wearing fabulous clothes, hats, robes, and shoes and I promised myself that I would not give away any more  of the plot of this overripe tomato that ends in a ludicrous trial. This is a film that has to be seen to be believed. Directed by John M. Stahl who was known for his women’s movies including the original Imitation Of Life and Magnificent Obsession, both later remade in the 1950’s by Douglas Sirk.  Winner of the Oscar for Color Cinematography.         


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