I Want To Live (1958)

ROBERT WISE

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBB

USA, 1958Figaro.  Screenplay by , , based on newspaper articles by  and the letters of .  Cinematography by .  Produced by .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by , .  Film Editing by .  

Susan Hayward shines in this riveting biography of Barbara Graham, a woman whose bad choices eventually led her to the gas chamber. After struggling to keep her home together and raise her children properly, Gordon turns to prostitution and the wrong crowd in order to survive. Stupidly involved in a robbery and murder, she is given a quick trial and sentenced to death row while the public still debates her severe sentence. Robert Wise uses stylish photography and a jazzy score to highlight this melodramatic tale. The strong screenplay is based on writings by journalist Edward Montgomery, who began his work on the case by exploiting Gordon’s shady lifestyle and passing her off as another floozy caught in the system, but ended up sympathising with her. He himself is characterized in this entertaining film that owes much to its stunning leading lady (though if I had the choice, I’d rather watch her in With A Song In My Heart).

Academy Award:  Best Actress (Susan Hayward)
Nominations: Best Director (Robert Wise); Best Adapted Screenplay; Best Cinematography-BW; Best Film Editing; Best Sound

Golden Globe Award Nominations:  Best Picture-Drama; Best Actress-Drama (Susan Hayward); Best Director (Robert Wise)

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