What a movie to review on Valentine's Day!
A woman becomes outrageously possessive of her husband to the point of murder. Yes, the wife (Gene Tierney) cannot stand guests or relatives taking up her husband's (Cornel Wilde) time, so she makes them feel unwelcome. If someone does not take the hint, death is next.
It's a gruesome film made all the more disturbing by setting up the story as something that could happen in your neighborhood to seemingly well-adjusted people.
At the time, the Ben Ames Williams novel upon which the movie is based was often advertised as "the story that makes jealous women blush for shame." But is this story really an indictment of over-possessive females or a journey into the life of an unexpected psychopath?
Gene Tierney is calm and cool throughout. It makes me shiver to think of her stoicism as she destroys her victims. But it has you thinking, what would cause this antisocial behavior in the first place? She's devoted to her late father, then she meets a man who resembles him. Right away, like a tick on a hound dog, she makes her move and transfers whatever possessiveness of dad onto this new man.
They made some hair-raising films back then, didn't they?
- Imitations of Life: A Reader on Film & Television Melodrama by Marcia Landy, particularly the chapter on Leave Her To Heaven and post-war females getting mixed messages about thier identity, leading to schizophrenic behaviors.
- The Bad Seed (1956) - Another movie about a psychotic female murderer in suburbia, this time she's a child.