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John M. Stahl
Gene Tierney, Cornel Wilde, Jeanne Crain
Writing Credits:
Jo Swerling

A writer falls in love with a young socialite and they're soon married, but her obsessive love for him threatens to be the undoing of them both.

Rated NR

Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1
English PCM 1.0
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 110 min.
Price: $39.95
Release Date: 3/24/2020

• Interview with Film Critic Imogen Sara Smith
• Trailer
• Booklet


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Leave Her to Heaven: Criterion Collection [Blu-Ray] (1946)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 26, 2020)

Being in love sure is great, isnít it? And itís especially wonderful when somebody loves you right back. However, things arenít quite so rosy when that other person loves you just a wee bit too much, a subject at the heart of 1946ís Leave Her to Heaven.

The movie starts with a quick and intriguing set up, as we see Richard Harland (Cornel Wilde) return home to Deer Lake, Maine after two years in prison. From there, we launch into a flashback and see Richard meet gorgeous Ellen Berent (Gene Tierney) on a train.

Both of them end up in New Mexico at Rancho Jacinto along with Glen Robie (Ray Collins) and Ellenís family: mother Margaret (Mary Philips) and cousin/adopted sister Ruth (Jeanne Crain). The Berents are there to scatter the ashes of their dead patriarch.

Though Richard sees an engagement ring on Ellenís finger, they get to know each other better and clearly fall for each other. Eventually she tells Richard that sheís taken off her engagement ring ďforeverĒ, which leads to some tension when Ellenís ex-fiancť Russell Quinton (Vincent Prince) comes to see her.

Nonetheless, Richard and Ellen get married and go to Warm Springs to visit Dickís sick brother Danny (Darryl Hickman). Dick and Danny want to go back to their Maine home called Back of the Moon, but Ellen resists the notion. They all head back to Maine anyway, as Ellen wonít mention her reticence to Dick.

As time progresses, Ellen demonstrates increased signs of instability. She feels jealous over Richardís relationships with others and wants him all to herself. This creates more and more problems and leads Ellen to some extreme measures as the film moves toward its climax.

While I enjoyed Heaven and think itís a worthwhile experience, I canít claim to feel bowled over by it. On the positive side, the movie opens with a moderately intriguing set-up, as we know the flashback story will go down a negative path.

This keeps us involved since we may have suspicions about where itíll go, but the film keeps us off-balance enough to make things tense. The structure acts as a taut ďticking bomb under the seatĒ, as we wait for an explosion to eventually occur.

Unfortunately, the story moves awfully slowly, as it doles out plot points parsimoniously and only occasionally grants us real moments of intrigue. For example, tidbits related to Ellenís father or her engagement remain vague enough to pique our interest.

It just takes the movie an awfully long time to get where its going, and the filmís final act really drags. The movie doesnít end with a bang, as it instead whimpers along after the flickís major dramatic twist occurs.

That zinger is a doozy and demonstrates Ellenís pathology well. I really like the performance from Tierney, as I think sheís the best thing about the movie.

Yes, she acts in a broad manner much of the time, but she brings a nicely coy and mysterious air to Ellen. We see something odd beneath the surface but she waits to let out the truth. This leaves us curious to figure out if Ellenís simply just a little jealous or if thereís something more serious at work.

Unfortunately, the other characters are consistently less interesting. Richard is something of a cipher, as he presents very little personality. He lacks depth or intrigue, so we empathize with his predicament to a degree but donít much care what happens to him.

Despite some lackluster characters and slow pacing, Leave Her to Heaven creates enough twists and turns to maintain our attention. The film takes some unanticipated paths and benefits from a coldly alluring performance from its lead. Heaven doesnít qualify as a classic, but itís an entertaining diversion.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B/ Bonus C-

Leave Her to Heaven appears in an aspect ratio of 1.37:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This was a positive presentation.

Sharpness seemed more than adequate. A bit of softness impacted some wider shots, but these failed to create notable concerns. Overall delineation appeared accurate and appealing.

Jagged edges and shimmering failed to create concerns, and I witnessed no edge haloes. With a nice layer of grain, I detected no issues with noise reduction, and print flaws remained absent.

The movie came with a broad palette, and the Technicolor stock gave the tones vivacity and impact. Inevitably, skin tones tended toward the brownish tint typical of Technicolor, but I felt the other hues appeared lively and full.

Blacks seemed dense and tight, while shadows offered nice smoothness and clarity. This became a solid transfer for an old movie.

The LPCM monaural soundtrack of Heaven also worked well. Speech seemed reasonably accurate and distinct, with no issues related to intelligibility or edginess. Music came across as fairly bright and lively, though dynamic range seemed limited given the restrictions of the source.

Effects were similarly modest but they showed good clarity and accuracy within the confines of nearly 75-year-old stems. This was a more than adequate auditory presentation for an older movie.

How did the Blu-ray compare to the Fox DVD from 2005? That disc included a pretty awful stereo remix, so the PCM monaural version here became a considerable improvement.

The 2005 DVD also included a lossy mono track. The 2020 Blu-ray offered somewhat superior audio when compared to that, though the limitations of the source meant the BD didnít provide a major step up in sound quality.

Visuals showed nice upgrades, as the 2020 Criterion looked tighter and cleaner. It also lost the mix of print flaws from the DVD. In all ways, the 2020 Blu-ray became a fine upgrade over the 2005 DVD.

In addition to the filmís trailer, the disc provides an Interview with Film Critic Imogen Sara Smith. During this 26-minute, 33-second piece, Smith discusses director John M. Stahl as well as genre domains and aspects of Heaven. Smith gives us a good view of Heaven.

A booklet offers art, credits and an essay from author Megan Abbott. It becomes a decent addition.

Note that the Criterion disc omits materials from the DVD. It loses a fairly good audio commentary as well as a gallery and newsreels.

Occasionally slow-paced and melodramatic, Leave Her to Heaven nonetheless manifests a generally intriguing tale. We get an alluring performance from its leads and intriguing plot twists, all of which are enough to make it keep our interest. The Blu-ray brings good picture and audio but compared to most Criterion releases, it skimps on bonus materials. Despite the paucity of supplements, the Blu-ray becomes a nice rendition of a pretty interesting movie.

To rate this film, visit the original review of LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN

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