Grace Caldwell (Suzanne Pleshette) is a young Pennsylvanian woman living with her widowed mother. The two lead an easy life with a positive lifestyle and wealth. Within the community, Grace can easily gain the attention of any man she desires and will often enjoy male company. On the other hand, Grace’s mother is no fool and often bites her tongue regarding the many relationships and poor choices that Grace makes. Her mother worries about Grace’s future and hopes she can control herself before it’s too late. While Grace’s mother would never say it to her face, Grace is becoming a problem child, and it’s no secret to those around her that her daughter can easily be seduced.
However, things begin to change for Grace when she meets a real estate broker named Sidney (Bradford Dillman), and the two fall deeply in love. It’s not long until Sidney declares his love and wants to marry her. While Grace confesses her past desires and dark history with multiple men, Sidney doesn’t back down and has a heart filled with forgiveness. Grace accepts the proposal and even promises to be an excellent wife to Sidney. As time passes, we see Grace enjoying married life and being a mother to a single child. However, it’s only a short time until a young man from Grace’s past reenters her life, and she becomes fond of all the attention he provides, including his desire for her. Can Grace control and reject the temptation that has surfaced before her, or will she deceive her loving family?
A Rage to Live is best described as a drama with performances and a plot outline that feel like midday soap opera. Most of the film hinges on Grace’s wrestling with temptation regarding men, even more once she marries Sidney. The film also explores trust. As the film progresses, even when Grace’s intentions are innocent and harmless, loved ones and friends around her still doubt her due to the reputation she once had, which adds to her inner torment.
The visuals, such as locations and costume designs, are enjoyable. As a character, sadly, Grace isn’t overly likeable. Watching a character make continuous mistakes and poor choices makes the entire film a painful experience, mainly because supporting her is impossible. Like the story, performances all around feel like a soap opera with over-the-top lines of dialogue or characters who enjoy a good whinge on-screen. The story is predictable and obvious, with a climax that feels unrewarding.
Overall, watching a woman wrestling with her temptation towards men has some appeal as a story. However, when the leading character is deeply painful to watch and continually makes poor predictable choices, A Rage to Live becomes highly frustrating with an unrewarding climax. Performances, mainly from the lead, are over the top. Even with pleasing visuals, solid locations and costume designs, there’s sadly not much to praise, and the entire film feels extremely average, like a midday soap opera.