- Run Time: 2 hours
- Video: Black & White
- Released: February 13, 2007
- Originally Released: 1958
- Label: Imports
- Encoding: Region 0 (Worldwide)
Performers, Cast and Crew:
Academy Awards 1958 -
Best Actress: Susan Hayward
Entertainment Weekly - 11/08/1996
"...[Hayward's performance] won her an Oscar as Best Actress....Horrifying..." -- Rating: B+
The electrifying Oscar-winning performance by Susan Hayward forms the foundation for the film noir classic I WANT TO LIVE! Hayward plays Barbara Graham, the real-life occasional prostitute and full-time con artist and perjurer who was charged with a murder she claimed she didn't commit and became the first woman to be executed in the state of California. Based on news articles by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ed Montgomery and letters from the actual Barbara Graham, the film chronicles the year or so before the murder of a wealthy widow and shows Graham's involvement with con artists Emmett Perkins (Philip Coolidge) and Jack Santo (Lou Krugman), who are also charged with the crime. After trying to break free of the underworld by marrying drug addict Henry Graham (Wesley Lau) and having a child with him, the spunky, good-natured but desperate Barbara leaves Henry and goes back to setting up gambling rings and ripping people off. It's not long before she and her partners, Emmett and Jack, are arrested for murder, though the film cleverly never shows the actual crime. What follows is a harrowing tale with Graham angrily, then desperately, proclaiming her innocence as she is put through the justice system. With an amazing jazz score by Johnny Mandel and director Robert Wise's quick pacing and frenetic vignettes, I WANT TO LIVE! is a gripping, tense melodrama.
Barbara Graham, a woman convicted of prostitution and forgery, is arrested for murder and sentenced to die in the gas chamber. Then the journalist who helped convict her realizes that she might be innocent--and he embarks on a quest to save her.