The Book & the Movie: Leave Her to Heaven (1944) / Ben Ames Williams | John M. Stahl (1945)

Leave Her to Heaven (1945)
Director: John M. Stahl
Writers: Jo Swerling (screenplay), Ben Ames Williams (novel)
Stars: Gene Tierney, Cornel Wilde, Jeanne Crain, Vincent Price

The title is taken from a line from William Shakespeare's "Hamlet".

“Leave her to heaven, and to those thorns that in her bosom lodge, to prick and sting her.” 

 William Shakespeare, “Hamlet” - Act 1, Scene 5

The original choice for the role of Ellen was Rita Hayworth, who turned it down.

”Probably half a million people had read the book, or would; but to see some stranger engrossed in one of his novels was an experience of which he never tired, and particularly when as in this case the reader was almost extravagantly beautiful. […] He looked at her again to confirm this impression and saw that she had fallen asleep! The book lay unheeded in her lap, her relaxed hands barely holding it there. Her head was tipped to one side against the back of her chair, and she was sleeping like a child. […] 
When the unheeded book slipped off her knees to the floor, thus rousing her, he leaned forward to pick it up - observing as he did so that her ankles were exquisite. She accepted the book, nodding, speaking a quiet word. ‘Thank you.’ For a moment when she spoke he met her eyes, and saw them, though still warm with sleep, widen in a quick surprise; and when he opened Victory again, he felt her watching him.” 

Ben Ames Williams, Leave Her to Heaven, 1944

 "When I looked at you, exotic words drifted across the mirror of my mind like clouds across the summer sky."
Russell Quinton: I loved you. 
Ellen Berent Harland: That's a concession. 
Russell Quinton: And I'm still in love with you. 
Ellen Berent Harland: That's a tribute. 
Russell Quinton: And I always will be. Remember that. 
Ellen Berent Harland: Russ, is that a threat?

“- What’s wrong with her?
 - There’s nothing wrong with her. She just loves too much.”
“To be lonely is one thing, but to be alone is another. There is no loneliness so acute as that of a man upon a pillory, facing ten thousand eyes; but to be alone is to be free, free from the eyes and tongues that watch and question and condemn.” 
 Ben Ames Williams, Leave Her to Heaven, 1944
“Now she was at once more awake than she had ever been in her life before and at the same time more at peace.”
Gene Tierney on the set of Leave Her to Heaven (1945)

"As much as any part I played, Ellen had meaning for me as a woman. She was jealous in a sad and destructive way. Jealousy is, I think, the worst of all faults because it makes a victim of both parties. Although treated subtly in the book, and the movie, Ellen was without a doubt insane. She believed herself to be normal and worked at convincing her friends she was. Most emotionally disturbed people go through such a stage, the equivalent of an alcoholic hiding the bottle.”

Gene Tierney

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