Movie: Leave Her To Heaven (1946)
Starring: Gene Tierney, Cornel Wilde, Jeanne Crain.
Story: A writer (Wilde) meets a beautiful stranger on a train (Tierney) while journeying through New Mexico. A romance ensues, followed by a series of disturbing and very tragic events.
Mr. Robie: “Those trout were in a stream a couple of hours ago. That’s something you wouldn’t see in Boston.”
Mrs. Robie: “Perhaps not, but on the other hand, our codfish…”
Mr. Robie: “I was born and raised in Boston and I yield to no one in my passion for codfish!”
Dick Harland (Cornel Wilde): “Mrs. Robie, I’m what you’d call a salmon man.”
Menu: Trout, codfish or salmon–with a Southwestern or Mexican twist. Coffee.
Last Friday I re-watched Leave Her To Heaven, best described by many as a “Technicolor film noir”. I’ve seen it four times. On the first three viewings, I was transfixed by the beauty and chilling evilness of Tierney’s troubled character, Ellen, the dramatic and brilliant Alfred Newman score, and the amazing colors. This time, the production design, including the intricate interior sets, and the beautifully composed shots (the cinematography won a well-deserved Oscar) are what really struck me. The Robie family’s New Mexico hacienda, their Bar Harbor cottage, and Dick Harland’s “Back of the Moon” lodge contain a stunning richness of detail.
As a random example, look at the still frame above, in which a jealous Ellen, holding her husband’s newly-published book, confronts her half-sister Ruth. Jeanne and Gene are framed in front of the window, the drapes parted evenly between them. Crain’s (pure) white and blue dress references the white and bluish flowers she’s arranging, as well as the blue of the book cover, while the orange flowers are a perfect match for the orange in Tierney’s outfit. Then there are the flowers to the left of the window. Finally, speaking of that book cover, is a sombrero sometimes just a sombrero, and a “deep well” just that?