Suzanne Pleshette’s Bad Girl

“You rich, lousy slut.” A Rage To Live is a titanic cautionary tale from the 1960s starring a ravishing Suzanne Pleshette… as a raging nymphomaniac. Based on John O’Hara’s novel, filmmaker Walter Grauman crafts one of the decade’s finest guilty pleasures, a searing melodrama sincerely presented for its day. Quickly made quaint and archaic by changing sexual mores only a few years after the sexual revolution transformed America, an insatiable woman’s desires produce disastrous consequences for her family.

Co-starring alongsides a young Suzanne Pleshette are Ben Gazzara and Bradford Dillman as two of her character’s many loves. A pre-Mission Impossible Peter Graves also plays a role. One of Pleshette’s few starring theatrical roles, her vivid performance proves she had what it takes to carry a film. Taking a variety of smaller but memorable roles like her turn in the uproarious comedy If It’s Tuesday, It Must Be Belgium, Hollywood was robbed of a great leading lady until she found her place on television.

A Rage To Live is absolutely essential for Suzanne Pleshette admirers

Grace Caldwell (Pleshette) tragically becomes a wanton young woman desperate for men’s affections while living with her wealthy widowed mother. Grace’s risky sexual behavior and growing affairs concern her brother Brock. Her brazen relationships wreak havoc in the lives of her family, endangering her mother’s health.

Things start looking up for Grace when she’s offered a stable marriage proposal by Sidney (Bradford Dillman), a man willing to overlook her checkered past. They love each other and move out to the countryside. When an old acquaintance from the past shows up played by Ben Gazzara, can Grace withstand temptation? The overwrought melodrama ends with a bang, a fitting cap to what slowly becomes a psychodrama filled with betrayals.

Few Hollywood films made before the late 1960s approach female sexuality quite like A Rage To Live. Rarely at the time would women like Grace be made the protagonist in the narrative, a deeply flawed person with real problems. It’s fashioned as a cautionary tale on the dangers of marital infidelity but there’s no doubt Grace’s compulsive “nymphomania” drives the somewhat lurid plot. Her affairs pump the suspense up with an inevitable release of scorching conflict and messy violence.

It’s hard avoiding the moralizing manufactured by A Rage To Live as a dated product of its time, almost alien today. Campy and overdone, that is part of the fun. What the movie does do well is portray Grace as both victim and perpetrator, a tragic life not entirely under her own control. Earning an Oscar nomination for costume design, the production was put together with real thought and passion.

A Rage To Live is absolutely essential for Suzanne Pleshette admirers but worth checking out even if her name doesn’t ring a bell for you.


What a beauty and stunner. A Rage To Live may be Imprint’s most impressively film-like Blu-ray presentation I’ve personally seen. The label out of Australia saves the drama from catalog obscurity in wonderful picture quality.

The 1965 MGM production features beautifully lensed black & white Panavision cinematography, incredibly crisp with lovely depth and definition. Imprint licenses the 1080p video from MGM, who struck a transparent 4K scan from the original camera negative with magnificent results. It’s amazing MGM has been sitting on this unfiltered film transfer.

The top-notch 2.35:1 presentation arrives on a BD-50, encoded in flawless AVC. The elements are in pristine condition, loaded with striking detail and clarity. A superb contrast and lush black levels provide perfectly consistent and even picture quality. Watch the shadow delineation carefully highlight Grace’s fall from grace, it’s genius.

Grain reproduction is immaculate. The ultra-sharp cinematography isn’t a gritty affair, fairly typical for the slow film stock and studio lighting favored by Hollywood during this era.

Considering the movie didn’t even merit a pressed DVD from MGM, Imprint’s BD is a nigh videophile experience whose video quality dwarfs all preceding versions.


The original monaural film soundtrack is crisply heard in pure 2.0 PCM. Boasting a score by legendary arranger and composer Nelson Riddle, not to mention a raging theme by famed piano duo Ferrante and Teicher, the film’s audio is a perfectly smooth studio concoction. The mix is pleasant to the ears, a drama mostly driven by dialogue.

The 1965 recording offers fabulous dialogue reproduction. A minute amount of hiss can be detected. Dynamics fit the sound design with moderate energy and clean higher frequencies.

Optional English SDH subtitles play in a white font partially outside the scope presentation.


A Rage To Live is #197 from Imprint’s increasingly impressive catalog. The Australian label does for the film what its own studio MGM neglected, creating a series of exclusive topical featurettes and special features for a film which demands it. The Suzanne Pleshette vehicle is making its worldwide Blu-ray debut, almost bypassing DVD entirely. MGM itself gave the drama only a mediocre DVD-R version in North America over a decade ago.

Coded for all regions, Imprint’s fantastic BD arrives in a clear case and is playable across the world. A limited edition slipcase is available on the first 1500 copies. It should be noted an announced commentary has not been included.

Author Neil Sinyard On The Career of Suzanne Pleshette (21:49 in HD) – The film historian takes a deep dive into the star’s career from movies to television in a wide-ranging featurette, discussing her character roles on several projects and how A Rage To Live fits into her filmography.

Paralyzed Segments: Suzanne Pleshette Tangled Up In Codes (16:49 in upscaled HD) – Daniel Kremer cobbles together an engaging featurette which notes Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon A Time In Hollywood’s possible connection to this film among other observations.

A Rage To Live Theatrical Trailer (02:29 in SD)

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided by the label for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For more information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page.

A Rage to Live
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A fascinating guilty pleasure starring a young Suzanne Pleshette concerns the dangers of nymphomania within the confines of 1950s sexual mores.

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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 40 full resolution, uncompressed HD screen shots grabbed directly from the Blu-ray:

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