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

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(screenplay), (screenplay) (as Don M. Mankiewicz) | 2 more credits »
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Won 1 Oscar. Another 5 wins & 15 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
...
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  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Even though she portrayed Barbara Graham as a tragic victim of circumstance, Susan Hayward later admitted that after doing some extensive research on the real Graham, she was most likely guilty of the murder of Mabel Monohan. See more »

Goofs

When Barbara's son is brought to the jail for a visit, and the presence of the news media upsets Barbara, she retreats to an interior area of the jail and pounds on the wall in frustration. The "brick" wall gives slightly as he throws her weight onto it. See more »

Quotes

Police Inspector: We have a tough, ugly job to do and you're making it tougher and uglier for all of us.
Barbara Graham: My heart bleeds for you. How can I help you Inspector, buy a few tickets to the policemen's ball?
See more »

Connections

Edited into The Clock (2010) 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

 
Bravado Performance In Intense Drama
24 April 2005 | by (Biloxi, Mississippi) – See all my reviews

Barbara Graham was a known prostitute with criminal associates. In the early 1950s, Graham and two men were accused of and arrested for the brutal murder of elderly Mable Monahan during the course of a robbery. Convicted and sentenced to death in California's gas chamber, Graham protested her innocence to the end--and many considered that she was less a criminal than a victim of circumstance and that she had been railroaded to conviction and execution. The celebrated 1958 film I WANT TO LIVE follows this point of view, presenting Graham as a thoroughly tough gal who in spite of her background was essentially more sinned against than sinner, and the result is an extremely intense, gripping film that shakes its viewers to the core.

The film has a stark, realistic look, an excellent script, a pounding jazz score, and a strong supporting cast--but it is Susan Hayward's legendary performance that makes the film work. She gives us a Graham who is half gun moll, half good time girl, and tough as nails all the way through--but who is nonetheless likable, perhaps even admirable in her flat rebellion against a sickeningly hypocritical and repulsively white-bread society. Although Hayward seems slightly artificial in the film's opening scenes, she quickly rises to the challenge of the role and gives an explosive performance as notable for its emotional hysteria as for its touching humanity.

As the story moves toward its climax, the detail with which director Wise shows preparations for execution in the gas chamber and the intensity of Hayward's performance add up to one of the most powerful sequences in film history. Ironically, Hayward privately stated that her own research led her to believe that Graham was guilty as sin--and today most people who have studied the case tend to believe that Graham was guilty indeed. But whether the real-life Barbara Graham was innocent or guilty, this is a film that delivers one memorable, jolting, and very, very disturbing ride. Strongly recommended, but not for the faint of heart.

Gary F. Taylor, aka GFT, Amazon Reviewer


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