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      I Want to Live!

      Released Nov 18, 1958 2h 0m Biography List
      94% Tomatometer 18 Reviews 83% Audience Score 1,000+ Ratings This film tells the riveting true story of brazen bad girl Barbara Graham (Susan Hayward, in an Academy Award-winning performance), a perpetual offender who tries to go straight but is sent to death row after being implicated in a murder. When journalist Ed Montgomery (Simon Oakland), whose initial newspaper articles on Barbara's crime played up her recklessness, becomes convinced that she may be innocent, he begins a desperate campaign to save her from the gas chamber. Read More Read Less Watch on Fandango at Home Buy Now

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      Critics Reviews

      View All (18) Critics Reviews
      Marion Aitchison Miami Herald It is strong factual drama, thoughtfully presented, with a harrowing climax that is little short of nerve-shattering. Jun 23, 2020 Full Review Nell Minow Movie Mom Rated: 4/5 Jul 25, 2002 Full Review Moira Walsh The Catholic World Most of the picture’s impact, however, is the contribution of Susan Hayward, giving the performance of her career as the doomed but indomitable Barbara. Nov 28, 2023 Full Review Matt Brunson Film Frenzy The movie works as a showcase for Hayward, who’s superb in the part. Rated: 3/4 May 9, 2023 Full Review Clyde Gilmour Maclean's Magazine Susan Hayward gives one of her stagey but jolting performances... Oct 21, 2019 Full Review Isabel Quigly The Spectator Not for fun and hardly for werewolves. Jul 19, 2018 Full Review Read all reviews

      Audience Reviews

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      Audience Member Some complain that Susan Hayward's acting is a over-the-top, but I disagree. It's one of her finest performances and that makes it one of the finest acting jobs of her era. The film itself is in incisive portrayal of a flawed woman and America's legal system. Rated 4 out of 5 stars 02/13/23 Full Review steve d Melodramatic but Hayward does a great job. Rated 3 out of 5 stars 03/30/23 Full Review Rich S Susan Hayward is the definition of vulpine: crafty, smart and savvy. But her character, Barbara Graham, eventually gets cornered and outnumbered when a job goes awry. This is her true story -- a story littered by her own lies -- as told by the newspaper man who reported on her arrest for murder. Rated 3.5 out of 5 stars 07/01/20 Full Review Audience Member Susan Hayward is one of my favorite actresses as I adore her performances in Stolen Hours (1963) and Smash-Up, the Story of a Woman (1947) I looked forward to seeing the performance that earned her the only Academy Award that her fellow industry professionals were willing to give her. This is a film that is just average, it's a real 1950s melodrama, but Hayward is superb as I expected she would be and she alone does enough to make the film worth watching. Director Robert Wise is obviously most famous for his work on The Sound of Music (1965) and West Side Story (1961) but he does a decent job here as he mixes Elia Kazan and Alfred Hitchcock. I think that Hayward's performance may be one of the best to have won Best Actress and I say that having seen Sophie's Choice (1982) and Gone With the Wind (1939). Prostitute Barbara Graham, Susan Hayward, becomes involved with alcoholic Henry, Wesley Lau, who she is eventually able to leave after realizing he is using her. She is also entangled with criminals who murder an old woman without her knowledge but who later push her into being arrested after they are caught. She is initially resistant to defending herself in court and due to her depression is happy at the prospect of being put to death but finds that she does want to live after all the men in her life turn against her. She relies on the help of media tycoon Ed Montgomery, Simon Oakland, to rally public support around her and keeps high spirits even as it becomes clear she will be unfairly killed. The story doesn't have a lot of clarity as I was confused as to how they managed to get a woman who was seemingly unrelated from the event on charges of murder but the film has it's fun moments as well. We get a nice setup as we see her and all of the dangerous men in her life hanging out at a club with jazz music playing as she gets up and does a little dance. We see all of the spunk and vivacity of the main character in that moment, no wonder it is the image that appears on the poster, but Hayward is able to transition successfully to making this figure appear human. Later scenes in which we witness her domestic troubles are simply staged and give the actors room to shine. We really get into the passions of the characters in these moments and even though the individual scenes sometimes don't flow together they are impressive on their own and you take away strong emotional responses from them. It is Hayward who really holds everything together as even in the moments that don't really work she is luminous. You have to accept that this film was made during the 1950s and therefore Hayward has all of the hallmarks of an actress of that era in that she is occasionally just too much! Compare her to Ingrid Bergman in Anastasia (1956) or Elizabeth Taylor in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958) and I'll take Hayward any time. She is quite charming when she has to be as we need to believe that she could win over a prison guard and a cynical reporter but we still see the sadness behind her eyes as she goes about her affairs. The excitement at the beginning of the film is encapsulated by Hayward perfectly as she throws her arms up in a carefree motion but the utter dejectedness that she brings to the role at the end of the film is touching. She is better than any of her competition in the Best Actress category in this year as she is simply brilliant but her competition also is not particularly strong. Shirley MacLaine can be wonderful but she does not do her strongest work in Some Came Running (1958) and Deborah Kerr in Separate Tables (1958) is a touch too icy for my tastes. I really like this film despite it's flaws and I think it's one of those famed rare examples of how a talented performer can lift up an otherwise average film. Rated 4 out of 5 stars 02/01/23 Full Review ashley h I Want to Live is an amazing film. It is about a prostitute, sentenced to death for murder, who pleads her innocence. Susan Hayward and Simon Oakland give excellent performances. The screenplay is well written. Robert Wise did a great job directing this movie. I enjoyed watching this motion picture because of the drama. I Want to Live is a must see. Rated 4.5 out of 5 stars 03/31/23 Full Review Audience Member Grim, almost unbearably intense, I Want To Live is the story of the life and execution of Barbara Graham (Susan Hayward) a perjurer, prostitute, liar and drug addict. Robert Wise directs the uniformly fine cast with grim efficiency, telling Graham's story in a series of adroitly crafted scenes that won him a well-deserved Academy Award nomination. However, the film belongs to Susan Hayward who gives a intense, shattering performance without one false note. Her performance is so grimly focused that she is, at times, almost unbearable to watch. Susan Hayward won the 1958 Oscar for best actress in a leading role. This fabulous gritty noir melodrama, one of Hollywood's first detailed accounts of capital punishment. 10/10 Rated 4.5 out of 5 stars 01/14/23 Full Review Read all reviews Post a rating

      Cast & Crew

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      Movie Info

      Synopsis This film tells the riveting true story of brazen bad girl Barbara Graham (Susan Hayward, in an Academy Award-winning performance), a perpetual offender who tries to go straight but is sent to death row after being implicated in a murder. When journalist Ed Montgomery (Simon Oakland), whose initial newspaper articles on Barbara's crime played up her recklessness, becomes convinced that she may be innocent, he begins a desperate campaign to save her from the gas chamber.
      Director
      Robert Wise
      Producer
      Walter Wanger
      Screenwriter
      Nelson Gidding
      Production Co
      Figaro Films
      Genre
      Biography
      Original Language
      English
      Release Date (Theaters)
      Nov 18, 1958, Original
      Release Date (Streaming)
      Jan 25, 2019
      Runtime
      2h 0m
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