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Leave Her to Heaven(1945)

Beauty and evil walk hand in hand in this sumptuous Technicolor melodrama starring Gene Tierney as a woman who carries love and devotion to deadly levels. On the strength of her popularity in Laura (1944), Twentieth Century-Fox head Darryl F. Zanuck cast her in her meatiest dramatic role at the time as a socialite whose obsessive love for her writer husband (Cornel Wilde) leads her to fire his family servants, along with a number of dastardly deeds involving his disabled brother and the couple’s unborn child. Cinematographer Leon Shamroy reflected her pathological passions in the picture’s heavily saturated color scheme, which would influence the films of Douglas Sirk, Martin Scorsese and Todd Haynes. Shamroy’s work was honored with the Oscar for Best Color Cinematography. Tierney, whose great beauty often overshadowed her acting prowess, threw herself into the role of the mentally unbalanced heroine, winning her sole Oscar nomination for the performance. Although the film was met with only mixed reviews upon release, it was Fox’s top-grossing picture of the ‘40s. Contemporary critics have elevated the film, pointing out its subversive depiction of post-war domesticity as a trap and hailing Tierney as one of the most underappreciated actresses of Hollywood’s Golden Age. (d. John M. Stahl, 110m, 35mm)

Nitrate projection made possible through support of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, Turner Classic Movies, and The Film Foundation in partnership with the American Cinematheque and the Academy Film Archive.

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