George Stevens is among the most celebrated filmmakers in American history with a brace of classics to his name, including Shane, The Diary of Anne Frank (1959), Giant (1956) and A Place in the Sun. A five-time Oscar nominee for Best Director, Stevens won for Giant.
Given that profile — and that Something to Live For arrived in the golden period of Stevens’ 1950s filmmaking, the year before Shane — you’d think it would be something of a sure bet. Sadly, you would be wrong. Via Vision’s Imprint label does a great job of unearthing lesser-known films, often resulting in great finds (Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains) but sometimes a few stinkers (1970’s Julius Caesar). Live falls among the latter.
Fantastic in Dial M for Murder and less so here, Ray Milland plays Alan Miller, summoned one night via Alcoholics Anonymous to help Jenny Carey (Joan Fontaine), an actress and fellow recovering alcoholic. In the 1950s, AA sponsors weren’t meant to be mixed-gender relationships. Live makes the case for that, as Alan falls for Jenny in a hot minute despite being married with two kids.
The carelessness with which Alan throws his family on the proverbial trash heap is quite something, and although the film aims for a tortured romance, it really doesn’t land at all. Atop is all is a ridiculous ending that puts everything preceding it through a shredder. At the time, a New York Times review called it “at first simply embarrassing. Then it is vexingly absurd.” I couldn’t agree more.
Regardless, it’s a world first on Blu-ray, and hardcore Stevens fans will rejoice at its transfer — a nice 1080p from a new 2K scan in 2022. There’s also a new audio commentary with film historians Daniel Kremer and David Del Valle, an interview with one of Stevens’ biographers, and subtitles. The packaging is Imprint’s standard nice slipcase. It’s a nice package; if only the film were more deserving.