Make Haste to Live (1954)

90 mins | Melodrama | March 1954

Director:

William A. Seiter

Writer:

Warren Duff

Cinematographer:

John L. Russell

Editor:

Fred Allen

Production Designer:

Frank Hotaling

Production Company:

Republic Pictures Corp.
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HISTORY

The working titles of the film were The Outcast and Woman in the Fog . The flashback scenes, in which “Crystal” tells about her past in a dictated letter, are shown as a montage, accompanied by Dorothy McGuire's voice-over narration as Crystal, interspersed with some dialogue. Portions of the film were shot near Santa Fe, NM, according to production charts. An Oct 1953 HR news item reported that the Breen Office had approved Warren Duff’s screenplay after initially rejecting the novel by Gordon and Mildred Gordon, because it depicted the sheriff in the story taking the law into his own hands and killing the murderer. Despite conflicting information about an Aug 1953 release date, the MPHPD review indicating a Mar 1953 release date appears to be correct, as the New York premiere and reviews are dated Mar and Apr ... More Less

The working titles of the film were The Outcast and Woman in the Fog . The flashback scenes, in which “Crystal” tells about her past in a dictated letter, are shown as a montage, accompanied by Dorothy McGuire's voice-over narration as Crystal, interspersed with some dialogue. Portions of the film were shot near Santa Fe, NM, according to production charts. An Oct 1953 HR news item reported that the Breen Office had approved Warren Duff’s screenplay after initially rejecting the novel by Gordon and Mildred Gordon, because it depicted the sheriff in the story taking the law into his own hands and killing the murderer. Despite conflicting information about an Aug 1953 release date, the MPHPD review indicating a Mar 1953 release date appears to be correct, as the New York premiere and reviews are dated Mar and Apr 1953. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
10 Apr 1954.
---
Daily Variety
5 Oct 1953.
---
Daily Variety
18 Dec 1953.
---
Daily Variety
26 Mar 1954.
---
Film Daily
31 Mar 54
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Oct 1953.
---
Hollywood Reporter
23 Oct 1953
pp. 12-13.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Nov 1953
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Dec 1953
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Mar 54
p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
29 Apr 1954.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
10 Apr 54
pp. 2253-54.
New York Times
26 Mar 54
p. 16.
Variety
31 Mar 54
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
2d asst dir
Dial dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
COSTUMES
Cost des
MUSIC
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Makeup supv
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Unit mgr
Scr supv
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Make Haste to Live by Gordon and Mildred Gordon (Garden City, NY, 1950).
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
The Outcast
Woman in the Fog
Release Date:
March 1954
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 25 March 1954
Production Date:
26 October--late November 1953
Copyright Claimant:
Republic Pictures Corp.
Copyright Date:
4 March 1954
Copyright Number:
LP3823
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Sound System
Black and White
Widescreen/ratio
1.65:1
Duration(in mins):
90
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
16837
SYNOPSIS

In Candlewood, New Mexico, newspaper owner Crystal Benson fears that her past has come back to haunt her. Hearing strange sounds at night and sensing that someone is watching her, she asks Lafe, Candlewood’s kindly sheriff, to issue her a gun. To John “Hack” Hackenthal, her daughter Randy’s boyfriend, she gives an envelope containing $4,000, mysteriously asking him to keep it safe in case Randy needs it. While visiting archaeologist Josh Blake, the man she loves, at an abandoned Indian cliff dwelling he is studying, Crystal puts off answering his marriage proposal, but will not explain why. After Randy and Hack report that a strange man has been following them, Crystal uses the dictating machine in her office secretly to compose a letter to Randy, asking her forgiveness for what is to come and explaining the following: Nineteen years earlier, at her first dance, Crystal, whose real name is Zena Hale, is swept off her feet by the charming Steve Blackford. Despite her mother’s warning that he is a mobster, she marries Steve and lives with him in high style in a big house in Riverside, California. However, Steve’s increasing abusiveness and his involvement in gangland slayings and other criminal activities frighten her, and after the death of her mother, she leaves. With the help of her friend, Mary Rose, the pregnant Crystal escapes California and the henchman Steve has following her, changes her name and starts a new life. Later, she learns that Steve is being tried for the murder of a woman. No one believes his story that a prostitute he brought home stumbled on explosives that he kept in the closet and was accidentally ... +


In Candlewood, New Mexico, newspaper owner Crystal Benson fears that her past has come back to haunt her. Hearing strange sounds at night and sensing that someone is watching her, she asks Lafe, Candlewood’s kindly sheriff, to issue her a gun. To John “Hack” Hackenthal, her daughter Randy’s boyfriend, she gives an envelope containing $4,000, mysteriously asking him to keep it safe in case Randy needs it. While visiting archaeologist Josh Blake, the man she loves, at an abandoned Indian cliff dwelling he is studying, Crystal puts off answering his marriage proposal, but will not explain why. After Randy and Hack report that a strange man has been following them, Crystal uses the dictating machine in her office secretly to compose a letter to Randy, asking her forgiveness for what is to come and explaining the following: Nineteen years earlier, at her first dance, Crystal, whose real name is Zena Hale, is swept off her feet by the charming Steve Blackford. Despite her mother’s warning that he is a mobster, she marries Steve and lives with him in high style in a big house in Riverside, California. However, Steve’s increasing abusiveness and his involvement in gangland slayings and other criminal activities frighten her, and after the death of her mother, she leaves. With the help of her friend, Mary Rose, the pregnant Crystal escapes California and the henchman Steve has following her, changes her name and starts a new life. Later, she learns that Steve is being tried for the murder of a woman. No one believes his story that a prostitute he brought home stumbled on explosives that he kept in the closet and was accidentally killed, and prosecutors presume that Crystal is the dead woman. Afraid for her baby, Crystal does not want to give up her new life by reappearing in her old one. Although she assumes that Steve will somehow clear himself, as he and his mobster friends have done in the past, she asks Mary Rose to testify that she is alive, but Mary Rose’s testimony is not strong enough to get Steve acquitted. The uncertainty it throws on the case influences the judge to lessen his sentence from the death penalty to twenty years imprisonment. Crystal eventually settles in the small town of Candlewood and prospers, keeping her early life secret, even from Randy, whom she is trying to protect. In her office, Crystal ends the letter, saying that Steve was released from prison ten days earlier and she is sure that he has found them. Crystal has barely finished, when Steve, bitter and openly looking for revenge, breaks into the office. He was able to track her down, he says, through a magazine photograph taken at a rodeo, in which she appeared in the background. When Randy shows up, Steve introduces himself as Crystal’s brother, and the defeated Crystal, fearing for their safety, feels compelled to go along with his story. As Steve insinuates himself in their lives, he begins demanding large sums of money. Randy, who is trying to decide her true feelings for the unsophisticated, but stable Hack, finds Steve fascinating and Crystal becomes alarmed by his influence over her. All Crystal’s efforts to outwit Steve are ineffective, as he has spent years planning her demise. Josh knows Crystal is, as he puts it, “living under a shadow,” but she is too terrified to confide in him. In desperation, she does ask Josh, who is licensed as a pilot, secretly to charter a plane, so that she and Randy can make a quick and quiet escape. He reluctantly agrees, but also has a word with Lafe, who remarks that “shadows have names and fingerprints.” Meanwhile, Steve robs the safe of a nearby mine, killing Gus, the elderly watchman, and allowing the blame to fall on a young man, Rudolfo Gonzales. Unable to prove Rudolfo’s innocence without revealing the rest of her past, Crystal feels torn. On the night she is supposed to leave, Steve follows her, as she drives toward the airplane runway. By telling him that she has hidden money, Crystal lures Steve to the cliff dwelling and considers pushing him into a bottomless pit, but loses her nerve. Shrewdly, he guesses her intentions and begins chasing her through the rooms of the dwelling. Outside the dwelling, he loses his footing on a ledge and falls to his death. Trembling, Crystal runs out to the road, where Josh, Randy and Hack find her. Lafe is also there and tells her that he has learned about Steve’s criminal record and has cleared Rudolfo. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.