Leave her to Heaven
Directed by John M. Stahl
Written by Jo Swerling based on the novel by Ben Ames Williams
This film is named after a quote from Hamlet. Nice. (The ghost of Hamlet’s father telling him not to judge his mother, but let God deal with her sins.)
Okay but I want to travel on the train shown at the start of this film, which looks exactly like a very long and comfy lounge with armchairs and sofas and lamps and curtains, it looks very pleasant. Actually the houses this movie is set at look lovely as well. Very homey.
This feels very much like a Hitchcock film, what with the trains and the people being told they resemble other people, femme fatales, the lush landscapes and the wittiness of the characters. This isn’t at all a bad comparison.
I realised as I watched this but that this film is a prototype for all the ‘women gone murderous’ films like Fatal Attraction or Gone Girl. There’s a lot of this in Gone Girl, in retrospect. It’s a great film. You’re trying to work out what she’s going to do next and thinking breathlessly ‘no, she wouldn’t!’ and then of course she does. Compelling stuff and a great psychological thriller which didn’t go the way I expected.
Shout out to having writers in movies. I love seeing writers in movies. I mean, there’s not much about his work or process, just that he is busy typing away a lot of the time. It’s good fun, and of course it’s all important plot points along the way. I’m leery of putting too much detail in here because I want to urge my friends, all my readers, to watch this. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone talking about this film and it’s great.
Does it make me love the people? Yes, especially Ruth. Ruth is MVP. I like Dick a lot, and actually although she’s cold and calculating and evil, Ellen is a great character. She’s so compelling to watch.
Bechdel test: Yes, a few times. At least when Ruth and Mrs Berent talk about Ellen and later when Ellen and Ruth talk about how Ruth wants to go on holiday to Mexico.
Mrs. Berent: There’s nothing wrong with Ellen. It’s just that she loves too much.
State of Mind: Impressed, that was compelling and gripping and interesting. I guess the characterisation of the women isn’t too unusual now, I wonder if it was a little groundbreaking when it came out. Or maybe it’s just standard Noir characterisations. The point is that this is a beautifully made film and I recommend it to everyone. I’ll definitely watch it again. It sticks with you, this film.