USA, 1945, 110 minutes
Sat, Apr 26 / 5:45 / Castro / LEAV26C
Sun, Apr 27 / 6:00 / PFA / LEAV27P
Nothing I’ve seen in a cinema is more beautiful, more depthless, yet more impenetrable than the emerald eyes of Ellen Berent in Leave Her to Heaven. This damaged and dangerous woman is one of the most compelling characters of Hollywood’s Golden Age. In an Oscar-nominated performance, gorgeous Gene Tierney, fresh from her captivating titular performance in Laura, embodies a femme fatale far more magnificent and malignant than film noir’s garden variety. She is the personification of a distinctly feminine psychopathology. Successful novelist Richard Harland (Cornel Wilde), a straight arrow about to be irreparably bent, meets Ellen on a train. She takes him home to her family. They marry, despite hints that something isn’t right with Ellen. In wedlock, Richard bridles under Ellen’s smothering devotion. When his attention strays to his younger brother Danny (Darryl Hickman), or Ellen’s sister Ruth (Jeanne Crain), there is, quite simply, hell to pay. Glossy and melodramatic on its soap opera surface, this black-hearted film contains two of the most disturbing scenes of aberrant psychology ever displayed in a Hollywood film. And what a display! This extraordinary 35mm print, restored by the Academy Film Archive in cooperation with Twentieth Century Fox, with funding provided by The Film Foundation, features some of the most astounding Technicolor imagery you will ever see. Director of photography Leon Shamroy won a well deserved Oscar for his work. Sauntering in her Cassini wardrobe through the grandeur of New Mexico and Maine, Gene Tierney proves an equally spectacular, and doubly treacherous, force of nature. Jo Swerling’s screenplay was based on the novel by Ben Ames Williams.
Both screenings will be preceded by a brief presentation by Schawn Belston, Vice President of Asset Management & Film Preservation at Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, on the restoration of the film. Presented by The Film Foundation and American Express.
The Film Foundation and American Express have created the Preservation Screening Program to provide public access to motion pictures that have been preserved or restored with funding from the foundation. Through this new program, today’s moviegoers are connecting with film art and culture of the past, developing an appreciation for our shared cinematic history and the importance of film preservation.
Special thanks to the Film Noir Foundation. Sponsored by American Express and The Film Foundation.