DVD Review HTF REVIEW: Leave Her To Heaven

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Michael Osadciw, Feb 23, 2005.

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  1. Michael Osadciw

    Michael Osadciw Screenwriter

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    FOX STUDIO CLASSICS PRESENTS

    LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN





    Studio: 20th Century Fox
    Film Year: 1945

    U.S. Rating: NR
    Canadian Rating: PG

    Film Length: 110 minutes
    Genre: Drama

    Aspect Ratio:[*] 1.33:1
    Colour/B&W: Technicolor

    Audio:[*] English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono[*] English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo[*] Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 mono
    Subtitles: English, Spanish
    Closed Captioned: Yes
    SLP: US $14.98






    Release Date: February 22, 2005



    Film Rating: [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Starring: Gene Tierney (Ellen Berent), Cornel Wilde (Richard Harland), Jeanne Crain (Ruth Berent), Vincent Price (Russell Quinton), Darryl Hickman (Danny Harland)

    Directed by: John M. Stahl
    Written by: Ben Ames Williams & Jo Swerling


    Hers was the deadliest of the seven sins.



    Leave Her To Heaven is number 26 in the FOX Studio Classics DVD line-up. Gene Tierney stars as the woman who loves too much. In fact, it is her love that destroys the lives of others in this 1945 FOX Technicolor classic.

    During his visit at a friend’s New Mexico ranch, writer Richard Harland falls for another guest; the beautiful Ellen Berent (Tierney). She has come with her mother and half-sister to visit this mutual friend for a sort of ceremony; Ellen will scatter the ashes of her deceased father at this place since it was his favourite place to be. Ellen is also unhappily engaged to a politician named Russell Quinton (Price), an arrangement made by her father before he passed away. It doesn’t take much to change Ellen’s mind out her marriage once she learns of Richard’s admiration for her.

    One evening, without notice, her fiancée surprise visits the ranch on the eve of the anniversary of her father’s death. With Richard at her side, she is quick to mention she has already decided to marry the popular author and back out of her previous arrangement. This is news to both Richard and others in attendance. This does not go over well for Quinton and swears that he will always love her when others fail to show it.

    After their marriage, a retreat is made to a cottage in Maine where Richard is able to clear his mind and write another book. The two of them are accompanied by Richard’s younger brother Danny; a very polite and happy boy who is trying to overcome his disability of being crippled. But Ellen is becoming increasing selfish for what she thinks is a lack of attention towards her. Danny needs attention every day leaving Ellen to care for him for a few hours while Richard is hiding in his room writing during the day. To add insult to her internal injury, her sister and her mother are invited to the cottage for a visit – all of this takes time away from Richard and all Ellen wants is him all for her. In her mind, no one is allowed to spend more time with Richard but her.

    She defends this selfish attitude by thinking she’s just given him all her love. But sometimes love destroys too. Her so-called loving behaviour has caused friction within her mother and sister, and they even blame the death of her father on her. Ellen’s love also brings out her dark side. One by one Richard’s loved ones are murdered by his wife; actions that she believes are justified to turn all of his attention to her.

    In a story when a man thinks the perfect wife has become his perfect nightmare, Leave Her To Heaven is not a far-fetched concept. There are so many people who crave love from others or feel that there is never such thing as giving too much love. The reality is that one can give too much love; it’s too overwhelming for the other person. The results for these people are usually devastating as people grow distant from their selfishness and clinginess.

    This film won the 1945 Oscar for Best Cinematography (color) and was nominated for three others: Best Actress (Gene Tierney), Best Sound Recording, and Best Art direction/Interior Decoration (color).


    VIDEO QUALITY
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    I will say this is an absolutely gorgeous looking DVD from start to finish. I was amazed at the depth perception now seen on this restored film and you can thank the clean-up done to this print. There are virtually no distracting artefacts on this picture. Aside from the few dirt specs appearing throughout, film grain is virtually undetectable. Leave Her To Heaven is presented in a 1.33:1 aspect ratio and I see little to complain about on this 35mm film restoration.

    At first sight, the colours from this Technicolor picture jump out from the screen. I think they jumped out to me because I wasn’t expecting that much colour definition; but there is was! Contrast is also exceptional. The bright daylight scenes out on the Back of the Moon took me by surprise. I felt like to only thing preventing me from believing the image was reality is the resolution limits of the DVD format! I wanted to jump in that lake it looked that good! The only tough part of this film is the way it simulated night scenes only during wide shots with the large rocky terrain. Black levels aren’t always deep and foreground images have poor shadow detail.

    Compression artefacts are not to be concerned about and there is a hint of edge enhancement in a few scenes, but not noticeable in the rest of the film. Details far into the backgrounds are a little blurred but this is more likely due to a limitation of film used in 1945. This is another excellent job in remastering classic films. It’s seeing successful restorations like this that make me want to own every classic film and watch them over and over again.


    AUDIO QUALITY [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    The soundtrack is available in Dolby Digital 2.0 mono and Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo. The audio has some rolling background noise that is common on older soundtracks. It is consistent throughout the film and mostly noticeable at louder volume levels. This is a dialogue driven film and the dialogue stands out clearly and has the occasional clicks and pops. When Ellen is clearly falling further into her madness, the beating music draws us in to her deranged state of mind. The opening theme sounds very epic and almost barbaric foreshadowing the tragic events to follow. There is a little strain with the dynamics to the music in the mono recording, but Dolby Digital audio does an adequate job bringing it to our homes. Overall, I am happy with the results present here.

    English audio is available in 2.0 mono and 2.0 stereo. My words of advice are to stay with the mono soundtrack. It is focused on screen between the two speakers and is much better than the splashy stereo version that lacks focus entirely. Dialogue and sound effects sound pulled to the sides and beyond the speakers’ outsides for a simulated stereo effect. This is not stereo; it’s butchery to the well focussed monaural soundtrack.

    For your info, I happened to roll across the Spanish soundtrack and found a few scenes to have different/alternate music than what is on the English soundtrack. Cueing is different as well; in one particular scene near the beginning of the film when Richard walks off at night searching for Ellen on her stroll, there is the sounds of silence of the New Mexico terrain compared to a sweeping score on the Spanish audio track. Ruth’s song on the piano prior to this scene is also different on the Spanish soundtrack. There are probably other distinctions, but I don’t normally compare this.


    SPECIAL FEATURES [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    An audio commentary by Time Magazine movie reviewer Richard Schickel and actor Darryl Hickman (who played Danny) is included on this DVD. Schickel sticks to facts about the movie and the era while Hickman reminisces about the making of the film and his relationship with the cast and crew.

    Like other FOX Studio Classics, there are two Movietone News snippets. Included here are the Film Premier (0.55s) and the Oscar Presentation (1m25s).

    There is about a minute and a half of restoration comparisons, the trailer for the film, and a still gallery. Trailers for other FOX Studio Classics such as
    The Three Faces of Eve, The Snake Pit, In Old Chicago, and The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie are also included.


    IN THE END…

    Based on the best selling novel by Ben Ames Williams, this psychological thriller makes for great film noir entertainment. Wonderfully acted, decently paced, Leave Her to Heaven is a fantastic FOX Studio Classics release that demands all of your attention.

    Michael Osadciw
    05.02.23
     
  2. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    Last weekend, I watched this dvd and I thought the video presentation was beautifully done. Gene Tierney never looked better.






    Crawdaddy
     
  3. Paul_Scott

    Paul_Scott Lead Actor

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    bought this yesterday and hopefully will get the chance to finally watch it tonight.
    ever since i put together my HT three yrs ago, this was one of the films i most anticipated seeing (for the first time) in it.
    couple of times i was seriously tmepted to catch it on tv, but no...had to hold out. "someday it will be on disc and i can watch it properly".
    whether i end up liking it or not, its going to be great to finally scratch that itch.

    to get this and "A Letter..." both on the same day was a dream come true.
    and the packages that Fox put together for these, and the under $10 retail price...

    absolute Bliss
     
  4. Herb Kane

    Herb Kane Screenwriter

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    My copy arrived just today – can’t wait to give it a spin.

    Without belaboring the point, and in light of the re-vamping of the FSC line, I can’t help but think that Leave Her To Heaven should have been one of the first releases in the new Fox Film Noir line. I’m glad to have it either way however and here’s hoping that both lines continue to do well. I, for one, will continue to purchase every single title from each line. Thanks Fox.

    Great review Michael, as always.
     
  5. Bradley-E

    Bradley-E Screenwriter

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    Fox started off with DVD very shaky but has become a TOP provider of DVD's. They really are awesome!
     
  6. Jaime_Weinman

    Jaime_Weinman Supporting Actor

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    Great looking movie, great DVD, so-so commentary. Schickel is kind of unenthusiastic, and while Darryl Hickman has some good stories to tell, he also has this incredibly pompous and condescending attitude toward the pre-Method acting of the '40s. Like he tells us that "Miss Tierney is 'indicating,' playing the externals instead of finding the character and letting it come from within." Whatever, dude. Stanislavski is dead. [​IMG]
     
  7. GerardoHP

    GerardoHP Supporting Actor

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    Totally in agreement. Hickman comes across as a chip-on-his-shoulder self-promoter.

    I also found Schickel's commentary a bit lacking and way too blaze about the story and performances. Shouldn't they get people who are a bit more enthusiastic about the movie on these commentary tracks?

    Oh, yeah, but the film looks GORGEOUS!
     
  8. Rob_Ray

    Rob_Ray Screenwriter

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    You have to remember that Darryl Hickman is an acting teacher today so he's pointing out perfect examples of all the little tricks actors use, including the ones that are frowned upon today, as if his primary listening audience will be acting students. And he blames the director as much as he does Miss Tierney for the "indicating."

    Indeed, this commentary should be interesting listening to acting students. I found it fascinating as a first-person account of the filming, especially his personal memories of the other cast members (especially Gene Tierney) and the director, shaded by the wisdom he acquired over the ensuing years. For example, Gene Tierney was very aloof not giving at all to the other actors. Now, he sees what she was up against, tackling a difficult role with an uncaring director and is more understanding of her moods.
     
  9. GerardoHP

    GerardoHP Supporting Actor

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    After watching the film last night with the audio commentaries on, I revisited Gene Tierney's autobiography and was not too surprised to find that she credited John Stahl's direction with getting her Academy Award-nominated performance out of her.
     
  10. Mark Zimmer

    Mark Zimmer Producer

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    Actually, I thought that Hickman's dual background as an acting teacher and as a participant made him a particularly astute commentator. He does accurately point out some false notes in Tierney's non-Method performance, but also acknowledges that in some respects it's right for the character to hit some false notes, so the whole thing really does work. And he has a fine appreciation for Chill Wills, who essentially just plays himself, so I don't consider him really all that pompous. I thought he gave one of the best commentaries I've heard in a long time. Schickel, on the other hand, I could have done without, since he likes to narrate all too often.

    My review at dOc:

    http://www.digitallyobsessed.com/sho...w.php3?ID=6972
     

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