Rage to Live, A (1991): Walter Grauman’s Melodrama, Starring Suzanne Pleshette

Walter Grauman’s trashy melodrama, A Rage to Live is based on the novel by John O’Hara, who also wrote Butterfield 8, which featured Elizabeth Taylor in her first Best Actress Oscar, in 1960.

Suzanne Pleshette, at the height of her popularity (after appearing in Hitchcock’s “The Birds”) plays Grace Caldwell, a newspaper heiress whose numerous affairs damage the reputation of her wealthy Pennsylvania family’s image.

Going on a vacation to the Bahamas by her widowed mother Emily (Carmen Mathews), Grace gets involved with can’t waiter, which leads to her mother’s fatal heart attack. Back home, Grace meets and then marries Sidney Tate (Bradford Dillman), vowing to end her sexual promiscuity.

But her libido proves stronger than her will power. A tryst with a construction worker results in a scandal when her lover dies in a drunken car wreck. Complicating matters even more is Sidney’s belief that Grace is also having an affair with his friend, Jack Hollister (Peter Graves).

The Production Code was still in force in 1965, so the movie could not have been as frank as the book in its graphic depiction of sex.

The film earned an Oscar nomination for black-and-white costume design, but did not win.

Oscar Nominations: 1

Costume design (black-and-white): Howard Shoup

Oscar Awards: None

Oscar Context:

The winner was Julie Harris for the costumes she designed for Julie Christie in “Darling.”  The other nominees were Edith Head for “The Slender Thread,” Moss Mabry for “Morituri,” and Bill Thomas and Jean Louis for “Ship of Fools.”