Close Up

26 May 2024: Something to Live for


Something to Live for
George Stevens, 1952, 89 min

Introduced by Ehsan Khoshbakht

“This crowning jewel of American cinema, nearly as good as the best of Roberto Rossellini and Ingrid Bergman, is one of the least known masterpieces of the 1950s. Imagine Ray Milland’s alcoholic in The Lost Weekend rehabilitated, seasoned, married with two kids and holding down a nine-to-five job in advertising. Yet something is missing in his life, which has now come to resemble an advertisement. Serving a good cause in his spare time, when an Alcoholics Anonymous rescue call comes in, he rushes to help the troubled drinker only to discover it’s a she: Joan Fontaine as a has-been actress. He saves her, they fall for each other, she brings back the vitality to his life, which according to his own wife (played by Teresa Wright) has become far too sober. Afterwards their lives improve but the pain and loss remain. Dwight Taylor’s sensitive script, originally titled Mr and Miss Anonymous, was based on his mother, an actress and alcoholic. Stevens got on board when he was still editing A Place in the Sun. The direction, in its accomplished sense of cluttered space, entanglement and inescapabilty, is full of artistry. The vulnerable characters are trapped in bars, hotel rooms, offices, and elevators, searching for a romance that is lost before it’s found. The romantic dream fails but the stage show with which the film ends is just beginning. Is this a triumph for artificiality and conformity? Stevens’s dark and tender film leaves you with this thought as no other film does.” – Ehsan Khoshbakht

Never on Sunday is a series of screenings of rare classics, archive masterpieces, obscure delights and forgotten gems carefully curated and introduced by Ehsan Khoshbakht and taking place the last Sunday of each month at Close-Up.