LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN – Restored Film Noir Classic at SF International Film Festival

Gene Tierney and Cornel Wilde Star in 20th Century Fox 1945 Classic Thriller

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By Seán Martinfield
Sentinel Fine Arts Critic
Photo by Lynn Imanaka

The newly restored 1945 film noir classic LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN, directed by John M. Stahl and starring the stunningly beautiful Gene Tierney enjoyed its Bay Area premiere last night at the Castro Theatre as part of the 51st SAN FRANCISCO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL, now through May 8th. A reprise screening happens today, Sunday, April 27th at 6:00 pm at the PACIFIC FILM ARCHIVE.

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JOHN M. STAHL, Director

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GENE TIERNEY – Leave Her To Heaven, 1945

Nothing in cinema is more beautiful, more depthless, yet more impenetrable than the emerald eyes of Ellen Berent in LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN. This damaged and dangerous woman is one of the most compelling characters of Hollywood’s Golden Age. In an Oscar-nominated performance, gorgeous Gene Tierney, fresh from her captivating portrayal in LAURA, embodies a femme fatale far more magnificent and malignant than film noir’s garden variety. Successful novelist Richard Harland (Cornel Wilde), a straight arrow about to be irreparably bent, meets Ellen on a train. She takes him home to her family. They marry, despite hints that something is not quite right with Ellen. In wedlock, Richard bridles under Ellen’s smothering devotion. When his attention strays to his younger brother Danny (Darryl Hickman), or Ellen’s sister Ruth (Jeanne Crain), there is, quite simply, hell to pay. Co-starring as Ellen’s jilted fiancé and soon-to-be legal defendant “Russell Quinton” is the young and very dashing Vincent Price.

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CORNEL WILDE and JEANNE CRAIN

Glossy and melodramatic on its soap opera surface, this black-hearted film contains two of the most disturbing scenes of aberrant psychology ever displayed in a Hollywood film. And what a display! This extraordinary 35mm print, restored by the Academy Film Archive in cooperation with Twentieth Century Fox, with funding provided by The Film Foundation, features some of the most astounding Technicolor imagery you will ever see. Director of photography Leon Shamroy won a well deserved Oscar for his work. Sauntering in her Oleg Cassini wardrobe through the grandeur of New Mexico and Maine, Gene Tierney proves an equally spectacular, and doubly treacherous, force of nature. Jo Swerling’s screenplay was based on the novel by BEN AMES WILLIAMS.

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Vincent Price, Cornel Wilde and Gene Tierney

These screenings will be preceded by a brief presentation by Schawn Belston on the restoration of the film. Belston is Vice President of Asset Management & Film Preservation at Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN was restored by the Academy Film Archive in cooperation with Twentieth Century Fox, with funding by The Film Foundation. The Film Foundation and American Express have created the Preservation Screening Program to provide public access to motion pictures that have been preserved/restored with funding from the foundation. Through this new program, today’s moviegoers are connecting with film art and culture of the past, developing an appreciation for our shared cinematic history and the importance of film preservation.

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Visit Seán on YouTube:
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Seán Martinfield is a native San Franciscan. He is a Theatre Arts Graduate from San Francisco State University, a professional singer, and well-known private vocal coach to Bay Area actors and singers of all ages and persuasions. His clients have appeared in Broadway National Tours including Wicked, Aïda, Miss Saigon, Rent, Bye Bye Birdie, in theatres and cabarets throughout the Bay Area, and are regularly featured in major City events including Diva Fest, Gay Pride, and Halloween In The Castro. As an Internet consultant in vocal development and audition preparation he has published thousands of responses to those seeking his advice concerning singing techniques, professional and academic auditions, and careers in the Performing Arts. Mr. Martinfield’s Broadway clients have all profited from his vocal methodology, “The Belter’s Method”, which is being prepared for publication. If you want answers about your vocal technique, post him a question on AllExperts.com. If you would like to build up your vocal performance chops and participate in the Bay Area’s rich theatrical scene, e-mail him at: sean.martinfield@gmail.com.

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