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The Right to Live (1935)

Approved | | Drama | 26 January 1935 (USA)
Maurice and Stella Trent are happily married. When Maurice is crippled in an airplane crash, he and his mother send for his brother Colin to come help keep Stella busy. He is to show her a ... See full summary »



(based on: "The Sacred Flame") (as Somerset Maugham), (screen play)

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Complete credited cast:
Phyllis Coghlan ...
Claude King ...
Mr. Pride
Mrs. Pride
Halliwell Hobbes ...
Sir Stephen Barr


Maurice and Stella Trent are happily married. When Maurice is crippled in an airplane crash, he and his mother send for his brother Colin to come help keep Stella busy. He is to show her a good time during what promises to be a 5 month recovery before an operation will allow Maurice to walk again. Stella and Colin become very close, and things come to a boil when Maurice believes his life may not be worth living any longer after all. Written by Ron Kerrigan <mvg@whidbey.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

26 January 1935 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Sacred Flame  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


As Maurice helps Stella on with her wrap and they turn to exit the booth at the theater Maurice accidentally knocks his program off the booth ledge. Maurice is unaware his program falls down onto audience members below. See more »


Version of The Sacred Flame (1929) See more »


The Wedding March
(1843) (uncredited)
from "A Midsummer Night's Dream, Op.61"
Music by Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy
Background music after the wedding
See more »

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User Reviews

I am surprised this made it past the strong Production Code, but it's an amazingly good film about a topic that is usually taboo
17 April 2011 | by (Bradenton, Florida) – See all my reviews

I really can respect this film. In a Post-Code world where films rarely dealt with topics like this, it's an amazingly frank and effective film that must have ruffled some feathers when it debuted. After all, suicide and adultery were topics that were not supposed to be allowed by the very conservative years following the adoption of the strengthened Production Code in 1934.

The film begins with a couple falling in love and getting married (Josephine Hutchinson and Colin Clive). Sadly, shortly after their honeymoon, the husband is involved in an airplane accident a is paralyzed--permanently. However, his new wife is devoted to him and refuses to have a life of her own--and it pains the husband to see her doing this. He maintains a happy and hopeful demeanor but he realizes it can't go on like this. So, the husband manipulates the situation--inviting his brother (George Brent) to stay with them and deliberately puts his brother and his wife together on many opportunities. Not surprisingly, eventually Brent and Hutchinson begin having feelings for each other--but both are too decent to act upon this.

Then, not too surprisingly, Clive dies. It's ruled a death by natural causes, but his nurse insists that he was murdered--as some of his medicine is missing. And, sadly, the nurse is very vindictive towards the wife and makes a lot of trouble. It's obvious, then, that the nurse is doing this because she has strong feelings towards Clive. What happened and why did Clive die? Well, I don't think it's a huge leap to guess what happened, I love how this film brings up many moral dilemmas--ones without clear answers--ones religious and non-religious people might struggle with as well. Assisted or voluntary suicide, quality of life issues and the like are all important--and topics films are usually just too scared to deal with or address seriously. My advice is to watch this one--and have some Kleenex handy. It has excellent acting, wonderfully writing and couldn't have been improved upon in any significant way. A very sad but thought-provoking little sleeper--I know it sure got me thinking.

By the way, Josephine Hutchinson was very good and it's sad that she didn't make more a name for herself in films. As for Clive, even sadder is that within two years he was dead--from a combination of the effects of tuberculosis, pneumonia and alcoholism.

Also, that final scene between Clive and his mother (Henrietta Crosman) is one of the saddest yet wonderfully handled I've sen in years. Wow.....I'm all choked up as I sit here watching.

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