she was twenty-eight at the time, Suzanne Pleshette plays teenage
jezebel Grace Caldwell. One afternoon, as she changes out of her
school clothes, Grace is watched by her brother's friend Charlie
Jay (Mark Goddard of television's Lost in Space). After some
snappy banter with her uninvited admirer, she announces that she's
going to take a shower. "Maybe I could scrub your back?"
would be dull." Grace deadpans. Unwilling to take no for an
answer, Charlie wrestles her down onto the chaise lounge. Trying
to fight him off, she shouts, "I hate you."
you don't hate this." Charlie growls as he kisses her. Proving
that there is indeed a thin line between love and hate, Grace submits
to his brutish advances.
mother is worried about her daughter's behavior. After a prolonged
absence from a party one evening, she goes looking for Grace, only
to find her in the drive-way, in the backseat of a car. Grace explains
that she was "Just getting some air." In the backseat
of a Chevy?
mother confesses her concerns to the family doctor during a checkup.
With a rather progressive attitude, he espouses this child raising
gem, "When they're fifteen years old we tell them, sex is dynamite
touch it. Six or seven years later they come around, tell you they're
gonna get married, you say, ok fine
play with the dynamite."
Grace is partaking in some afternoon delight with Charlie Jay in
his basement rec room. After being caught by Charlie's mom (Brett
Somers of television's Match Game) Grace isn't ashamed, but
indignant, and walks out with her head held high.
tell your father what Grace Caldwell was doing here, that sweet,
refined, little slut." After an interrogation by his disciplinarian
father and ball-busting mother, Charlie side-steps responsibility
by telling them that he isn't the only one Grace has been with.
receiving a neighborly phone call, Grace's mother confronts her
about the affair. Knowing that it's no use playing the innocent,
Grace downplays the scandalous accusations. "We were necking,
just necking. I don't expect to get a gold star for that, but it's
a long way from what she's talking about."
clarification is in order, "What do you call necking?"
a wild animal backed into a corner, Grace lashes out, "I told
you nothing happened!"
well dear, I'll take your word for it." Though she knows very
well that her daughter has become the town tramp. Moments later,
Grace rushes downstairs to find that her mother has collapsed.
a doctor's exam, rest and relaxation is prescribed for her "condition".
Grace's older brother (much, much older, he smokes a pipe for crissakes)
comes home from Yale to handle the situation. He insists that she
reform or risk their mother's life. When asked about her affair
with Charlie Jay, Grace attempts to explain her sexual compulsions,
"I don't care how it sounds. When I feel that way, I can't
think of anything else. Doesn't matter who I am or what I'm supposed
to be. Nothing matters. I can't help it."
a country club Christmas soirée Grace is fixed up with reputable
Sidney Tate (Bradford Dillman). When a drunken Charlie almost ruins
their evening, Sidney gallantly defends her honor. After a tame
goodnight kiss, grace sums him up, "You're very nice Sidney."
on vacation in the Bahamas, Grace plays nursemaid to her ailing
mother. Despite a respectable beau back home, Grace begins to feel
that familiar itch, and she needs it scratched. She sneaks out of
her room for a moonlit rendezvous with a hotel employee. When Grace
returns she finds her mother on the floor, the victim of a fatal
a respectable mourning period, Sidney proposes marriage and Grace
decides to come clean about her past. "I've done some foolish
things, some bad things. They weren't meant to be bad but
I guess you know what I mean. I'm ready to give all my love to you
Sidney, but I had to tell you."
her white wedding (who is she kidding?) Grace manages to achieve
a certain level of suburban perfection, a husband, a country house,
and a son of her own. It even looks as if Grace has squelched her
sexual compulsions, until contractor Roger Bannon (Ben Gazzara)
arrives to do some handiwork.
a girlfriend picks her up for a day of shopping and sees the swarthy
looks Roger is giving Grace, she asks, "Grace is everything
do you mean?"
know." Yup, we sure do.
rainy afternoon, after a cozy ride into town, Roger confesses his
long standing obsession with Grace. "From the first time I
saw you I haven't been able to stop looking. Not that I wanted to
stop. Looking at you became one of the big pleasures in my life.
Maybe the biggest. And all that time, I've been wanting you. And
I guess I'll go on wanting you until they shovel me into the ground."
That's all she needs to hear. After a passionate afternoon in his
office, they begin a steamy affair.
seeing her flirt with newspaper editor Jack Hollister (Peter Graves),
Roger confronts Grace on the country road that leads to her house.
"I'm in love with you. Sure, I know, we started off like a
couple of animals, but it's not like that any more. Oh Grace I need
you." He sees a future for them, but she has no intention of
sacrificing her family. Grace takes off in her car, nearly running
him down. "Rich, lousy, slut!" he shouts after her.
at a roadside motel, Roger takes out his frustrations on an innocent
woman, "Whores! You're all whores!" He causes such a commotion
that the police are called and a car chase ensues. After taking
a turn too fast, Roger flips his truck and it explodes.
Hollister hushes up the true circumstances behind Bannon's death
to protect Grace. When he returns home to his lush of a wife Amy,
she lashes out at him, thinking he's late because he's sleeping
with Grace. With their relationship in shambles, Jack announces
that he's ending their marriage. "You're leaving me for that
tramp?!" Watch out Grace. As they say, hell hath no fury
next day, Grace prepares for the women's auxiliary charity event
that she's hosting. Word of Roger Bannon's half-mad ravings about
Grace on the night of his death eventually make their way to Sidney.
When he confronts her, she tearfully tries to make amends, "I
never loved him. Not for a second."
no love or regret here, you're just sorry you got caught. Well,
you said to hell with the rules, and to hell with me, so Grace
hell with you." After the charity carnival he's leaving and
taking their son with him.
big drama under the big top when Amy comes searching for her estranged
husband. Grace tries to take Amy outside, but angry and belligerent,
she wants everyone to hear her tale of woe, "Get your hands
off me, I'll say whatever I want."
to control the situation, Grace tells her to, "Shut up."
steal somebody's husband and she's supposed to shut up? You don't
have that much money you tramp!" Grace slaps her but good and
Amy crumples to the ground, a sobbing, emotionally broken woman.
the mistaken impression that she's had affairs with Bannon, Jack
Hollister and God knows who else, Sidney's had enough and leaves
to pack his bags. Grace runs after him, but is left alone to finally
realize that her search for physical love has destroyed the only
true love she has ever known. "Oh my God
the soundtrack swells to an orchestral cocophany of gothic strings
that bring to mind pain, suffering, and eternal damnation, this
moralistic prolog appears on screen:
Wise wretch! With Pleasures too refin'd to please;
too much spirit to be e'er at ease
purchase Pain with all that Joy can give
die of nothing but a Rage to live.
Rage to Live (1965) and Butterfield 8 (1960) are cinematic
siblings, of sorts. Both are based on books by John O'Hara, and
both tell the story of a tramp trying to achieve respectability,
only to ruin the lives of those she loves. Butterfield 8
is the more popular of the two because of Elizabeth Taylor's Oscar
win and her behind-the-scenes shenanigans with co-star Eddie Fisher.
But with moody black and white photography and a delicious performance
by Suzanne Pleshette, A Rage to Live deserves the same attention
as its Academy Award winning sister.
Rage to Live is
not currenlty avialble on video or DVD.
local listings for any TV airings.