Leave Her to Heaven
Dir. John Stahl. 1945, 110 mins. 35mm. With Gene Tierney, Cornell Wilde, Jeanne Crain. The chilling story of a beautiful woman whose possessive love drives her to murder is filmed by Leon Shamroy in Technicolor so cloyingly luscious and compositions so immaculate that the cinematography feels perversely complicit in the heroine’s crimes. The mismatch between the film’s gorgeous surface—all pristine landscapes, warm soft light, and stylish rustic interiors—and its insidious cruelty makes it deliciously disturbing; Gene Tierney is unforgettably terrifying as the dream girl who turns out to be a nightmare. The strangely numb, affectless quality of this melodrama reveals a sterile, deadly perfectionism in the American ideal of the good life.
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