Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Leave Her to Heaven (1945)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Leave Her to Heaven (1945)

In John Stahl's brilliantly saturated, Technicolored melodramatic noir (told in flashback), one of the few noirs shot in color, about a menacing, father-fixated, unstable, and deranged, darkly alluring femme fatale:

  • the opening sequence - the return of author-writer Richard "Dick" Harland (Cornel Wilde), home after serving a two-year prison sentence to his lakeside lodge in Maine; he was greeted by his defense attorney, Glen Robie (Ray Collins); as Dick rowed away, Robie commented: "Well, of all the seven deadly sins, jealousy is the most deadly"
  • the beginning of the film's flashback - the meeting of beautiful socialite Ellen Berent (Oscar-nominated Gene Tierney) with her captivated, soon-to-be future husband - 30 year-old bachelor and novelist Richard Harland, on a train in New Mexico
  • the strong intent of psycho-insanely-jealous, father-obsessed, neurotically-possessive, and heartless femme fatale Ellen to marry Richard - and her vow that she would stop at nothing to make the man she loved her exclusive possession: ("I'll never let you go. Never, never, never"); soon after when her behavior became extreme, she apologized for her obsession in him: "Forgive me. I'm sorry. I can't help it. It's only because I love you so. I love you so, I can't bear to share you with anybody"
  • the frightening murder scene orchestrated by Ellen, who was calmly watching from a rowboat as her novelist husband Richard's younger paraplegic brother Danny (Darryl Hickman) (and her own brother-in-law) tired and drowned in the Maine lake directly in front of her, on a bright and sunny day; she registered no reaction on her heartless face as he sank below the water and never reappeared
The Heartless Drowning-Murder of Ellen's
Younger Brother-in-Law Danny
  • the scene of pregnant Ellen detestfully looking at herself in a mirror: "Look at me. I hate the little beast. I wish it would die"; she told her foster sister Ruth (Jeanne Crain): "Shocked, aren't you? If you were having the baby, you'd love it. Well, I never wanted it. Richard and I never needed anything else. And now this." Ruth replied: "How can you say such wicked things?" to which Ellen admitted: "Sometimes the truth is wicked. You're afraid of the truth, aren't you, Ruth?"
"Look at me. I hate the little beast. I wish it would die"
"How can you say such wicked things?
"Sometimes the truth is wicked..."
  • the further sequence of Ellen's plotting to rid herself of her problem (and her unborn child) - she changed into a longer blue robe and high-heeled blue slippers, emerged from her bedroom, and stood at the top of the long flight of stairs; she realized she could choreograph and fake a tripping fall by deliberately catching her left blue slipper under the loose rug - she flung herself forward with a scream to purposely abort her unwanted child by miscarriage
  • Ellen's final jealous scheme when her suspicious husband threatened to leave her - to suicidally poison herself by mixing up, in her adoptive sister Ruth's bathroom, a deadly potion of powdered poison (arsenic), in order to frame Ruth Berent as her killer
  • Ellen's deathbed scene, when she breathlessly requested of Richard that he scatter her ashes with those of her father: ("I'm going to die...And you mustn't feeI sorry for me. I'm not afraid. Only, only, promise me one thing. I-I want to be cremated. Like my father, and my ashes scattered in the same place. Remember?....Richard! I'll never let you go, Richard. Never. Never. Never")
  • in the subsequent scene, a trial hearing was held regarding "cold, brutal premeditated murder"; recently elected Boston-area district attorney Russell Quinton (Vincent Price), Ellen's previous jilted and vengeful fiancee, was serving as the state's DA prosecutor in a case against the defendant Ruth Berent - ("The State will prove that on the afternoon of September 5th at a picnic attended by Ellen Harland, her mother and her adopted sister, that Ellen met death as a result of poisoning. The State will prove that the sugar with which Ellen that day sweetened her coffee was mixed with poison and that she met death by reason of that poison. The State will prove that the defendant had both motive and opportunity to commit this dreadfuI crime. And the State will prove that the defendant, Ruth Berent deliberately and maliciously plotted and carried through the murder")
  • pretending to be a victim before her death, Ellen wrote a letter and sent it to Russell; it clearly stated her fears that Ruth was threatening to kill her; in a dramatic scene during the trial, Richard was forced to read it outloud: (Dear Russ, I am writing this letter to you because we once meant a great deaI to each other and there is no one else to whom I can go for help. Richard is leaving....It was after I left the hospitaI I first began to sense a change in my husband. At first I thought it might be due to the loss of our child and then the truth, the awfuI truth, began to dawn on me. The reason for the change was Ruth. Russ, they love each other, and want to get rid of me. When Richard suggested a divorce, I went to Ruth and begged her to give him up. She said she intended to have him and would stop at nothing. I told Ruth I would never give Richard a divorce, and it was then she threatened to kill me....Russ, I know she means it, and is capable of it. She will kill me the first chance she gets (read twice)...I'm afraid to stay in the house, but I can't leave without Richard. I'd rather die than give him up. I don't know what to do or where to turn, except to you, Russ. Please help me. Ellen")
Ruth's Confession: "Yes, yes, I am in love with him. I think I've always loved him."
Richard's Denouncement of His Monstrous Wife Ellen
  • during the trial - Ruth did confess to innocently loving Richard (but not with evil intentions toward Ellen); on the stand, Richard testified to the extreme depths of Ellen's insanity and her dual confession to two murders: ("My wife was not murdered. She killed herself...Ellen was capable of anything....Yes, she was that sort of monster...Who, by her own confession to me, killed my brother, killed her own unborn child - and who is now reaching from the grave to destroy her innocent sister. Yes, she was that sort of monster")
  • the result - Richard was sentenced to two years in prison as an after-the-fact accessory - because he had not reported the extent of Ellen's depraved crimes to authorities

Opening Sequence - Ex-Con Richard with Lawyer

Introduction of Ellen Berent on Train in New Mexico

Ellen to Richard: "I'll never let you go. Never, never, never"

An Apology For Her Single-Minded Obsession: "It's only because I love you so"

Plotting Her Own "Accidental" Miscarriage

Plot to Suicidally Poison Herself and Frame Ruth as Killer

Deathbed Scene: "I want to be cremated...I'll never let you go!"

Ruth on Trial for Murdering Ellen - Prosecuted by Ellen's Ex-Fiancee Russell Quinton

Richard Forced to Read Ellen's Incriminating Letter


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