Tuesday, May 17, 2016

I Want to Live! (1958)

Stap yourselves in, folks.

Susan Hayward gives a tour-de-force performance in this crackling 1958 drama from director Robert Wise (West Side Story, The Sound of Music).

I Want To Live, based on true events, was nominated for six Academy Awards, but only Hayward brought home a trophy for her performance as Barbara Graham. The honour is very well deserved. Her Graham is a fiery character, determined and explosive when she's been wronged.

Graham is a petty criminal - passing plenty of bad cheques, prostitution, perjury to cover for her friends. But her brushes with the law take a dire turn when she's accused of murdering an elderly woman.

Here's one crime she didn't commit, but she's found guilty and sentenced to death. She has a young boy from a third marriage that went sour. Graham has somebody to live for. She's seen another party girl, Peg (Virginia Vincent), turn her life around and becoming a self-confessed "square."

Graham does have a few friends in her corner, including newspaper reporter Ed Montgomery (Simon Oakland) who wrote sensational stories about her court experience, but now wonders if Graham is innocent.

Watch this film. I Want To Live is a keeper.

RATING: 8/10

FUN FACTS: That's Gavin MacLeod, from The Love Boat and Mary Tyler Moore, as a police lieutenant. I didn't recognize him. Glad I watched the end credits.

Prison chaplain Rev. Devers is played by John Marley. He was Jack Woltz in The Godfather.

Wow. Simon Oakland, who I remember from my childhood as Brig. Gen. Thomas Moore in television's Black Sheep Squadron, as reporter Ed Montgomery.