Friday, July 30, 2010

Leave Her To Heaven

John M. Stahl, 1945 (8.6*)
Exotic locations, the impeccable beauty of Gene Tierney, and the Oscar®-winning cinematography of Leon Shamroy (one of his four Oscars®) make this one of the most beautiful films to view in color. The film begins on a train in New Mexico, where an author, played by Cornel Wilde in an understated performance, meets a gorgeous young woman, Tierney, who's reading his latest novel.

The two fall in love amid the beautiful scenery of Rancho Jacinto in the mountains near Taos, New Mexico, with Tierney dropping her present fiance, a rising young lawyer well-played by Vincent Price, and proposing to Wilde after just a couple of days of dazzling him with her beauty. In one unforgettable scene, he witnesses her scattering her fathers ashes on horseback high up on a mountain plateau at dawn with her mother and cousin.

The marriage shifts to Warm Springs, Ga (where I work, about a mile from the location in the film!) to Wildes' polio stricken young brother David, played by Darryl Hickman of Dobie Gillis on tv fame. They then all move to Deer Lake, Maine, to Wilde's hidden fishing lodge, so the newlyweds really get little intimacy. Tierney's character grows increasingly possessive of her husband, even becoming jealous of her cousin, and half-sister, on her infrequent visits, played by Jeanne Crain, who holds her own vs. Tierney's onscreen beauty - the two actually resemble relatives.

This is really basic film noir, even if wrapped in a colorfully trimmed package. We watch major characters deteriorate as they turn lemonade into lemons, and are eventually shocked by unexpected events of mental cruelty. This was one of Shamroy's four Oscars®, and the impeccable art direction also received an Oscar® nomination, as did Tierney, who received the only Oscar® nomination of her career, losing to Joan Crawford. A must-see for fans of 40's glamour and film noir classics, from a novel by Ben Ames Williams.


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These are the individual film reviews of what I'm considering the best 1000 dvds available, whether they are films, miniseries, or live concerts. Rather than rush out all 1000 at once, I'm doing them over time to allow inclusion of new releases - in fact, 2008 has the most of any year so far, 30 titles in all; that was a very good year for films, one of the best ever.

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