Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, May 1, 2014


Ray Milland and Joan Fontaine
SOMETHING TO LIVE FOR (1952). Director/producer: George Stevens.

Alan Miller (Ray Milland) is a recovering alcoholic with a wife, Edna (Teresa Wright), and son. An elevator boy (Harry Bellaver) he knows calls him in to council a drunken hotel guest whom Alan assumes is male, but turns out to be a woman; Alan nevertheless decides to speak to her. Jenny (Joan Fontaine) is an actress who is letting alcohol strip her of her career and her dignity. Almost against their own wishes the two discover a mutual attraction, but there is the problem of Alan's marriage -- and his torment over his conflicted feelings ... Some contemporary critics saw Something to Live For as pure schmaltz, but for the more romantic-minded, it's an interesting picture with very good [if not necessarily great] performances from the leads. Teresa Wright with her expressive face offers a sensitive portrait of the wife who knows more than Alan realizes, and there's nice work from Richard Derr [When Worlds Collide] as an obnoxious, self-centered director with whom Jenny was once involved. Paul Valentine and Douglas Dick are also in the cast in smaller roles. One could argue about which classical composer influenced Victor Young the most, but his lovely score for the film is a decided asset. The ending may seem a little abrupt and simplistic, but it works beautifully. Stevens also directed Giant and many, many other notable films.

Verdict: While this is certainly not on the level of Brief Encounter, which it resembles in some ways, it is a worthwhile romantic picture. ***.

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