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Leave Her to Heaven is one of the most unblinkingly perverse movies ever offered up as a prestige picture by a major studio in the golden age of Hollywood. Gene Tierney, whose lambent eyes, porcelain features, and sweep of healthy-American-girl hair customarily made her a 20th Century Fox icon of purity, scored an Oscar nomination playing a demonically obsessive daughter of privilege with her own monstrous notion of love. By the time she crosses eyebeams with popular novelist Cornel Wilde on a New Mexico-bound train, her jealous manipulations have driven her parents apart and her father to his grave. Well, no, not grave: Wilde soon gets to watch her gallop a glorious palomino across a red-rock horizon as she metronomically sows Dad's ashes to the winds. Mere screen moments later, she's jettisoned rising-politico fiancÚ Vincent Price and accepted a marriage proposal the besotted/bewildered Wilde hasn't quite made. Can the wrecking of his and several other lives be far behind? Not to mention a murder or two. Fox gave Ben Ames Williams's bestselling novel (probably just the sort of book Wilde's character writes) the Class-A treatment. Alfred Newman's tympani-heavy music score signals both grandeur and pervasive psychosis, while spectacular, dust-jacket-worthy locations and Oscar-destined Technicolor cinematography by Leon Shamroy ensure our fixed gaze. Impeccably directed by the veteran John M. Stahl (who'd made the original Back Street, Imitation of Life, and Magnificent Obsession a decade earlier), the result is at once cuckoo and hieratic, and weirdly mesmerizing.

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FX2222626 Leave Her to Heaven DVD (Gene Tierney/Cornel Wilde/Jeanne Crain/Vincent Price) $14.98 $13.49