Leave Her to Heaven

1945 film by John M. Stahl

Leave Her to Heaven is a 1945 American film noir about a writer who falls in love with a young socialite and they're soon married. But her obsessive love for him threatens to be the undoing of them both, and everyone else around them.

Gene Tierney as Ellen Berent Harland
Cornel Wilde as Richard Harland
Directed by John M. Stahl. Written by Jo Swerling, based on the 1944 novel by Ben Ames Williams.
Hers was the deadliest of the seven sins.  taglines

Ellen Berent Harlan

  • Father used to say it was like riding across the front lawn of heaven. We made a pact to bring our ashes here when we died. 'If you die first,' I told him, 'I'll bring yours here. If I die first, you'll bring mine.' Yet, I know now, people you love don't really die.
  • 'Every book's a confession,' my father always said. Course, you have to read between the lines.
  • I have no intention of hiring a cook or a housekeeper or any other servants....Ever...I don't want anybody else but me to do anything for you. I want to keep your house and wash your clothes and cook your food....And besides, I don't want anybody else in the house but us....Ever.
  • I assure you, I don't want to shirk any responsibility. I'm thinking only of Danny, and I - no, that isn't true. I'm thinking a little about myself, too. I know you'll understand, Dr. Mason. I gave up my honeymoon to come here so that my husband could be with his brother. But he's been working, and the burden's been on me. I've spent hours here every day. I was glad to do it. It was no sacrifice at all. I love Danny as much as he does and I'm just as happy as he is that Danny's doing so well. But after all, he's a cripple. [pause] I'm sorry. I didn't mean to say that...I didn't mean it. I'm afraid I haven't been too well myself lately.
  • [describing her nightmare] We were out in the skiff, my husband and I, and he jumped in for a swim. But I was too lazy, so I just rowed after him. Somehow I was afraid, and when we got to the middle of the lake, I thought it was time for him to get back into the boat. So I decided to call out to him, but I had no voice. Suddenly, Richard went under, not diving, but the way seals do, just sort of settling in the water. Then he came up again, and one of his arms flung out to me as if he were trying to call to me. I tried to row to him, but the lake was like glue. The boat wouldn't move. My arms were paralyzed. Then he went down again. And this time he stayed down.
  • I hate your chapter. I hate all your chapters. They take up too much of your time...After all, it isn't as if you had to write for a living. I've got more than enough for both of us, and darling, it's the dearest wish of my heart to support you....Oh darling, I didn't know it could be so wonderful here, Back of the Moon....Every minute. If only it weren't so crowded.
  • Not that I mind chaperones, not in the least. But there's Danny's room on one side of us and Thorne's room on the other side. And the wall's as thin as paper, and the acoustics disgustingly perfect....Do you know ever since we've been married, we've never been alone, not for a single day?
  • I keep forgetting you can't draw a deep breath in this room without being heard all over the house. Let's change the name of the place from Back of the Moon to Goldfish Manor.
  • This baby's making a prisoner of me....I can't do anything. I can't go any place. I don't even see my husband... I don't want him to see me this way.
  • Is anything wrong, Richard? You look so strange. You've been avoiding me, going off by yourself. Where do you go? What do you think about? Whatever it is, can't you share it with me? We haven't done that for a long time - shared things. Ever since Danny. You've never forgiven me for that, have you? You've always blamed me. You did tell me not to let him swim the lake unless you were with us but, but we wanted to surprise you. Danny was so happy planning to surprise you. He'd been doing so well. He swam three-quarters the day before and he was sure he could make it. The water was so warm. I thought there was no danger. I must have looked away for a moment, and then when I looked back, Danny was sinking. I pulled at the oars and then lost one. And then I grew panicky. It was like a nightmare!

Richard Harlan

  • It'll be the truth and nothing but the truth. Any resemblance to flattery will be sheer coincidence...While I was watching you, exotic words drifted across the mirror of my mind as summer clouds drift across the sky...Watching you, I thought of tales in the Arabian Nights of myrrh and frankincense and... patchouli.
  • My wife was not murdered. She killed herself...Ellen was capable of anything....Yes, she was that sort of monster. A woman who sought to possess everything she loved - who loved only for what it could bring her. Whose love estranged her own father and mother. Whose love possessed her father until he couldn't call his soul his own. Who, by her own confession to me, killed my brother, killed her own unborn child - and who is now reaching from the grave to destroy her innocent sister. Yes, she was that sort of monster.


  • Glen Robie: Well, of all the seven deadly sins, jealousy is the most deadly.
  • Glen Robie: He got two years. But Ellen had lost. I guess it's the only time she didn't come out first.
  • Mrs. Berent: There's nothing wrong with Ellen. It's just that she loves too much. Perhaps that isn't good. It makes outsiders of everyone else. But she can't help it. You must be patient with her. She loved her father too much.


Ellen: You're a bachelor. Thirty years old. You were born and raised in Boston and you went to Harvard, where you edited the Lampoon. When you graduated, you went to Paris and you studied painting for a while. You have a lodge in Maine called 'Back of the Moon'. Before you went in for writing novels, you were a newspaper man. Your favorite sport is fishing, and you speak French and Spanish quite well.
Richard: Shades of Sherlock...If you'd lived in Salem a hundred years ago, they'd have burned you.

Ellen: Why did you come for me tonight?
Richard: You knew I was coming up there tonight. You were waiting for me, weren't you?
Ellen: And you came, didn't you?

Ellen: [about her ex-fiancee, Russell Quinton] Why do you hate him?
Richard: Because you knew him.
Ellen: [chuckling] That's nice. You're gonna hate everybody I know?

Russell: I wanted to be among the first to congratulate you on your forthcoming marriage.
Ellen: Well, we hadn't planned to announce it for a while, but since you've let the cat out of the bag. Darling, this is Russell Quinton. My fiancee, Richard Harland.

Russell: Perhaps you don't think I'm good enough for you or romantic enough. I know people thought I was marrying into the Berent family for reasons, but that's not true. I want you to know that I had only one reason. I want you to know that I was in love with you. I'm not a man who loves often, Ellen. I love once.
Ellen: That's quite a concession.
Russell: I loved you. And I'm still in love with you.
Ellen: That's a tribute.
Russell: And I always will be. Remember that.
Ellen: Russ, is that a threat?

Ellen: Darling, will you marry me?
Richard: Why, you unpredictable little... [She forcefully kissed and embraced him]
Ellen: And I'll never let you go. Never, never, never.

Richard: What's happened to you? You're deliberately whipping yourself into a fit of hysterics....Ellen, what's got into you?
Ellen: Oh, darling, forgive me. I'm sorry. I can't help it. It's only because I love you so. I love you so, I can't bear to share you with anybody.

Ellen: He's dropped his work. He's dropped everything. I'm losing him, Ruth. I'll die if I lose him.
Ruth: Perhaps, perhaps if you went back to the lodge, just the two of you.
Ellen: No, he hates it now, everything about it. He never wants to set foot there again. And he doesn't want to go back to Boston. If I only knew what he was thinking. You've always helped me, Ruth. Help me now.
Ruth: A little time, Ellen, you'll see. He's had a great loss. There's a great emptiness in his life. If he only, if he only had a child of his own.

Ellen: You're looking very well, Ruth. I've never seen you so happy. Tell me, do you think Richard loves me?
Ruth: Well, now, that's a silly thing to say.
Ellen: Oh, I know in the beginning he loved me. But I'll tell you something funny. He never liked me.
Ruth: He loved you, but he never liked you?
Ellen: That's right. We've never really been friends, like you and he. He likes you. Tell me, has he found a nickname for you yet?
Ruth: Well, not exactly. Sometimes he calls me 'the gal with the hoe,' to kid me about my gardening.
Ellen: He used to call me 'Patchouli.' [She looks at the mirror reflection of her pregnant self] Look at me. I hate the little beast. I wish it would die.
Ruth: Ellen!
Ellen: Shocked, aren't you? If you were having the baby, you'd love it. Well, I never wanted it. Richard and I never needed anything else. And now this.
Ruth: How can you say such wicked things?
Ellen: Sometimes the truth is wicked. You're afraid of the truth, aren't you, Ruth?
Ruth: No. You're the one who's afraid.

Ruth: When we were kids, you used to torment me every way you could think of. You can't do that anymore.
Ellen: [suspiciously] Is it Richard?
Ruth: I'm going away because I can't stand living in this house any longer. The whole place is filled with hate. Your hate.
Ellen: Not hate. Love, Ruth. Richard's love for me. All these weeks, I was in the hospital helpless. You had him here in the house to yourself. But it didn't do you any good, did it? He still loves me. He loves me more than ever. That's what you can't abide. That's why you envy me, isn't it?
Ruth: I don't envy you, Ellen. All my life I've tried to love you, done everything to please you. All of us have: Mother, Father and now Richard. And what have you done? With your love, you wrecked Mother's life. With your love, you pressed Father to death. With your love, you've made a shadow of Richard. No, Ellen, I don't envy you. I'm sorry for you. You're the most pitiful creature I've ever known.

Richard: You got rid of everybody else, your mother, Ruth, Thorne. There was only Danny left. What were you thinking of? You never really cared for him. You only pretended to. What happened? Did he refuse to leave?...Was that why you killed him?... You're a perfect swimmer and the boat was so far away, and he was going down for the third time. You killed him. You let Danny drown, didn't you? Didn't you?
Ellen: Yes, I let him drown, and I'd do it again! I didn't want him around. I didn't want anyone but you.
Richard: I knew it. I must have known it all along but I kept pushing it out of my mind. I couldn't believe it. I didn't want to believe it. How could I? You loved me, you said. Wanted only to make me happy.
Ellen: Yes, that was all I ever wanted, Richard. Your happiness, only that. I didn't mean to let Danny drown. I didn't plan it, I swear I didn't. But when he went under I thought if he never came up, I'd have you all to myself. I thought if he was gone, you'd have only me. And while I was thinking that, he was gone. I was sorry then, and frightened. I tried to find him, tried honestly, tried hard. But it was too late. Why don't you kill me, Richard? You could so easily, you know.
Richard: And the baby. You never wanted it, did you?
Ellen: No. Don't you see? I didn't want anyone around. Only you. I wanted to be just with you. I couldn't stand having anyone between us. Oh, I love you so, Richard. I love you so.

Ellen: I'm going to die.
Richard: Don't talk like that, Ellen. You're going to be all right.
Ellen: No. And you mustn't feel sorry for me. I'm not afraid. Only... Only, promise me one thing. I want to be cremated. Like my father. And my ashes scattered in the same place. Remember?
Richard: I remember.
Ellen: Promise?
Richard: Of course, I promise. Anything you like, only...
Ellen: Richard! I'll never let you go, Richard. Never. Never. Never.


  • The sin she committed in the name of love could not be judged by man...or punished by law!
  • The picture that is the sum total of all human emotions!
  • Hers was the deadliest of the seven sins.
  • For love she would give anything...even her life...or destroy anything... EVEN THE LIFE OF ANOTHER!


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