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I Want to Live! (1958)

7.5
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 3,685 users  
Reviews: 59 user | 21 critic

A prostitute, sentenced to death for alleged murder, pleads her innocence.

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(screenplay), (screenplay) (as Don M. Mankiewicz) , 2 more credits »
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Title: I Want to Live! (1958)

I Want to Live! (1958) on IMDb 7.5/10

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Won 1 Oscar. Another 8 wins & 12 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Edward S. 'Ed' Montgomery
Virginia Vincent ...
Peg
...
Carl G.G. Palmberg
Wesley Lau ...
Henry L. Graham
Philip Coolidge ...
Emmett Perkins
Lou Krugman ...
John R. 'Jack' Santo
James Philbrook ...
Bruce King
Bartlett Robinson ...
District Attorney Milton
Gage Clarke ...
Attorney Richard G. Tibrow
Joe De Santis ...
Al Matthews
...
Father Devers
...
San Quentin Warden
Alice Backes ...
Barbara, San Quentin Nurse
Gertrude Flynn ...
San Quentin Matron
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Storyline

Barbara Graham is a woman with dubious moral standards, often a guest in seedy bars. She has been sentenced for some petty crimes. Two men she knows murder an older woman. When they get caught they start to think that Barbara has helped the police to arrest them. As a revenge they tell the police that Barbara is the murderer. Written by Mattias Thuresson

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Barbara Graham's Last Scream From Gas Chamber...


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

18 November 1958 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Barbara Graham Story  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Joseph L. Mankiewicz, who owned the company producing the film, insisted that there be some anti-capital punishment rhetoric at the end of the film. Wise was sure that if the audience wasn't convinced by then, a few platitudes wouldn't make a difference. Gidding wrote it, and Wise shot it, but in the end Mankiewicz's ending wasn't used. See more »

Goofs

When Barbara is being visited in jail by her friend and later the police informant, there is a fine screen between the jail's bars, presumably so the inmate cannot get contraband from a visitor. But the screen appears and disappears in the various scenes. See more »

Quotes

Barbara Graham: [before go to the gas chamber] Just this once, I wish it wasn't ladies first.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Casting By (2012) See more »

Soundtracks

Performed by:
Art Farmer (trumpet)
Gerry Mulligan (baritone sax)
Frank Rosolino (trombone)
Bud Shank (alto sax and flute)
Pete Jolly (piano)
Red Mitchell (bass)
Shelly Manne (drums)
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Black And White And Shades Of Gray
14 June 2005 | by (Dallas, Texas) – See all my reviews

This is the story of Barbara Graham, party girl and petty criminal, who was charged, along with two men, in the March, 1953, real life slaying of Mabel Monohan, a wealthy and elderly widow who lived in Burbank, California. Technically, "I Want To Live" is a high quality production. It has excellent B&W photography, superb editing, a jazzy score; and, it features Susan Hayward's Oscar winning performance as Barbara Graham, a young woman portrayed as independent-minded, tough as nails, feisty, defiant, vulnerable, and a good mother.

Both at the beginning and at the end of this Robert Wise directed film the viewer is informed that the story is "factual". But the screenplay never delves into the actual "facts" of the murder. We don't learn anything about the victim, her relationships, the crime scene, or any of a thousand important details that must surely have surrounded this high profile case. Instead, the film focuses entirely on Graham, and goes out of its way to portray her as innocent, in the Monohan murder.

Even a cursory review of available literature suggests that the film, while "factual" in some respects, is fictional in others. For example, in reality, the police did not capture Graham and her two male friends in a warehouse at night, as the film portrays; they captured the three in a seedy apartment in daytime. The film omits her addiction to heroin. In more than one way, the film presents Graham sympathetically, and as a victim of the criminal justice system. There's an interesting story about the film's producer, and his motivations for making this film the way he did.

Nevertheless, I am not convinced, beyond a reasonable doubt, that she was guilty, mainly because I do not have access to the detailed "facts" of the Monohan case. After all these years, the truth regarding the murder has become cloudy, obscure.

It is the thick fog surrounding the real life case that makes the film's final thirty minutes so gut-wrenching, as we await Barbara Graham's fate. Suspense is heightened by a deadline-induced outcome that will either be black or white, all or nothing, but certainly not gray. In setting out to portray a woman wrongly accused of murder, the filmmakers have thus created an ending that is amazingly effective.

"I Want To Live" is a well made Hollywood production with riveting suspense. But keep in mind the film presents only the case for the defense, which may or may not be consistent with the truth.


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