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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 »


William Keighley


W. Somerset Maugham (based on: "The Sacred Flame") (as Somerset Maugham), Ralph Block (screen play)


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Complete credited cast:
Josephine Hutchinson ... Stella Trent
George Brent ... Colin Trent
Colin Clive ... Maurice
Peggy Wood ... Nurse Wayland
Henrietta Crosman ... Mrs. Trent
C. Aubrey Smith ... Major Licondra
Leo G. Carroll ... Dr. Harvester
Phyllis Coghlan Phyllis Coghlan ... Alice
Claude King ... Mr. Pride
Nella Walker ... 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


A daring story - a superb cast - a gripping motion picture everyone should see.




Approved | See all certifications »






Release Date:

26 January 1935 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Sacred Flame See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The W. Somerset Maugham play this film is based on, "The Scarlet Flame", opened on Broadway on November 19, 1929 at the Henry Miller Theatre and ran for 24 performances. A revival in 1952 also ran for only 24 performances. See more »


In the theater when Maurice takes Stella's right hand during the tender moments while the closing aria is being sung. There is a handkerchief in Stella's hand yet when she releases his hand out of our sight the handkerchief is missing as she goes into her purse for a new handkerchief. See more »


Version of The Sacred Flame (1929) See more »


Tristan und Isolde
(1865) (uncredited)
Written by Richard Wagner
The ending is performed at the opera, with the singing role of Isolde unidentified
See more »

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User Reviews

Great acting carries the day here...
18 November 2012 | by AlsExGalSee all my reviews

... and although the story might even seem clichéd today, during the first days of the enforcement of the production code I'm surprised this one got past the censors.

Stella (Josephine Hutchinson) marries free spirited wealthy aviator Maurice Trent (Colin Clive), and all seems well until one day a plane crash steals Maurice's ability to walk and apparently even to sit for long periods - you never see him in a wheelchair. He's either in bed or in a kind of rolling bed.

Maurice's doctor (Leo G. Carroll as Dr. Harvester) and family friend (Aubrey Smith as Major Licondra) decide to hide the truth from Maurice - that he will always be as he is. This is because Maurice had such a love of life prior to the accident that they are afraid of his reaction if he finds out existence is to be a prison for him, perhaps into old age.

Maurice takes his bitterness and depression out on his nurse - and then apologizes - telling her he must release his bitterness on her so that his wife sees only his sunny side. Maurice also invites his brother Colin (George Brent) to make an extended visit and keep his wife entertained with nights on the town that he would be having with her if not for his invalid condition, which at this point he still considers temporary.

Stella falls for Colin, and both wrestle with the right thing to do. She could stay with Maurice - who could live perhaps for decades - but she doesn't want her affection for him to turn to resentment. She could follow her passion and go with Colin, but that would be an abrupt crushing blow to Maurice coupled with the certainty that he will soon know his condition is permanent. Any decision has both a kindness and a cruelty to it from the aspect of its effect on Maurice. How does this play out? Watch and find out.

Considering the production code's strict enforcement during this time the film is particularly daring in the sense that it deals realistically and sympathetically with the impact on the soul of being suddenly transformed from a vigorous person into an invalid with no hope.

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