Alan (Ray Milland) receives an urgent call one evening from an elevator operator who stresses that someone needs his help and support, given his past and current involvement with Alcoholics Anonymous. When Alan arrives on site, he learns the person who needs help is the famous stage actress Jenny Carey (Joan Fontaine). At first, Alan hesitates to assist Jenny as he usually only helps fellow men. However, given that he’s made the journey and that the call was about a matter of urgency, he agrees to speak with her.
Alan quickly confirms that Jenny does suffer from Alcoholism. He tactfully manages to help Jenny through the evening without drinking and even takes her to dinner, ensuring she eats a nice meal. As conversations are shared, it’s evident that these two have a lot in common. After a successful night of support, Alan returns home to his wife and two children and tries to continue his life. However, it’s only a short time until Alan and Jenny see each other again and begin having a secret love affair. Will Jenny and Alan reject their feelings for the sake of Alan’s marriage?
Something to Live For is best described as a drama film. I enjoyed witnessing our lead wrestle with personal demons and desires, which they both know will be bad for them in the long run. Craving an alcoholic drink or seeing Alan and Jenny desiring one another are examples of temptation they share with disastrous consequences, primarily because Alan is married. Alan also suffers from extreme pressure with his work in marketing, which only pushes him to seek a form of escape to try and take his mind off all the worries surrounding him.
I enjoyed the film immensely for several reasons. The dialogue between our two leading characters is excellent, and the actors played these characters wonderfully. Due to the dialogue, you genuinely believe these characters, their struggle with temptation and their love for each other. When Alan sees more of Jenny, he acts more like a young boy, excited and ready for adventures, as if he is discovering love for the first time. As the film progresses, we also see him becoming more creative at his workplace. Visually, I found this film great, with the costumes and set designs taking viewers to another time and place. My only general issue with the film is its finale, which seems ambiguous and vague, leaving viewers to decide on specific plot details. While I sometimes appreciate this in cinema, it would have been more rewarding if the film was bolder with finer details, particularly surrounding the leading characters who commanded the screen for the entire duration.
Overall, this classic film is highly recommended if you enjoy a story surrounding forbidden love. The film is dialogue heavy, and every word spoken is done so well that the characters are compelling, particularly when it comes to their wrestling with their temptation for one another. The pacing is great, and I enjoyed seeing our leading characters progress and change dramatically as the runtime continues. With so much greatness here, I am disappointed by the film’s final moments, which decided to be vaguer and more ambiguous about key plot details. Viewers are left to determine Jenny and Alan’s fate. Nevertheless, this film captured my heart and left a lasting impression.