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Why Must I Die? (1960)

 -  Crime | Drama  -  June 1960 (USA)
5.1
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Ratings: 5.1/10 from 35 users  
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Debra Paget commits a murder for which Terry Moore (as club singer Lois King) is arrested, tried, and condemned to die. The story line wanders through the trial and Miss King's final hours ... See full summary »

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(screenplay), (additional dialogue), 2 more credits »
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Title: Why Must I Die? (1960)

Why Must I Die? (1960) on IMDb 5.1/10

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Lois King
...
Dottie Manson
...
Adler
Juli Reding ...
Mitzi
Lionel Ames ...
Eddie Rainey
Richard LePore ...
Sinclair (as Richard Le Pore)
...
Morrie Waltzer
Selette Cole ...
Peggy Taylor
Dorothy Lovett ...
Mrs. Benson
Phil Harvey ...
Kenny Randall
Fred Sherman ...
'Red' King
Robert Shayne ...
Charlie Munro
Damian O'Flynn ...
D.A. Walter Dennison
Holly Harris ...
Miss Bradley
Mark Sheeler ...
Jim
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Storyline

Debra Paget commits a murder for which Terry Moore (as club singer Lois King) is arrested, tried, and condemned to die. The story line wanders through the trial and Miss King's final hours on Death Row. The true killer is finally ready to confess, but already Miss King (who has by now been strapped into the electric chair) is at risk. Will she be rescued in the nick of time? Written by R. Dresser <bob@j51.com>

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Taglines:

I'm damned if I'm innocent...damned if I'm guilty...the only thing that counts is to LIVE! See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama

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Release Date:

June 1960 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Why Must I Die?  »

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Did You Know?

Connections

Referenced in Schlock! The Secret History of American Movies (2001) See more »

Soundtracks

Girl on Death Row
Composed by Lee Hazlewood (as Lee Hazelwood) and Duane Eddy
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User Reviews

 
A low-rent "I Want To Live!"
15 July 2007 | by (NYC suburbs) – See all my reviews

After a narrow escape during a botched heist, Lois King (Terry Moore) calls it a day and walks out on her small-time boyfriend, Eddie, and her ex-con dad to start a new life. She relocates to another city, finds work as a nightclub singer, and rises to become the headliner at a swank supper club owned by Kenny Randall. In love with Kenny and preparing for marriage, Lois gets an unwelcome visitor- Eddie and his new moll, Dottie Manson (Debra Paget)- who blackmail her into helping them rob Randall's safe. The scheme doesn't go off as planned, however; Dottie shoots Randall and takes off with the money while Eddie flees the scene after trying to run Dottie down. Lois is arrested, tried, convicted and sentenced to death for the crime despite the best efforts of her sympathetic lawyer (Bert Freed). Dottie is eventually arrested for another robbery and sent to the same prison as Lois, but refuses to confess to Randall's killing. Lois' only hope now is for Eddie to come forward but, confronted by Lois' dad, he accidentally falls to his death -and time is running out...

In addition to earning Susan Hayward an Oscar, I WANT TO LIVE! (1958) was also a powerful plea for the abolishment of the death penalty. This low-rent rip-off did nothing for the career of its star, Howard Hughes' playmate Terry Moore, while capitalizing on the more sensational aspects of capital punishment. The poster screams "Only The Motion Picture Screen Would Dare Tell This Shocking Story!" and has Debra Paget yelling, "Honey, you're nothing but a good-time girl ...you're guilty as sin!" with Terry replying, "I'm damned if I'm innocent ...damned if I'm guilty ...the only thing that counts is to LIVE!" The movie's tag line reads, "The TRUE story of a girl on Death Row!" but, although very loosely based on the ordeal of Barbara Graham, a disclaimer in the closing credits reads "any resemblance to persons living or dead..."

Mixing soap-opera with sensationalism, 1950's B-list pin-ups Terry Moore and Debra Paget get the chance to overact together in roles that require pulling out all stops. They can't quite pull it off, of course, but that only adds to the unintentional hilarity. Some of the more memorable moments include Moore, in prison, confiding in her doll and Paget blowing up a safe in capri pants and high heels. The teary-eyed Terry is forever getting bad breaks in life but Debra's risible role has her snarling every line and taking no prisoners; she kicks the cane away from an old blind man before shooting him in the back during a robbery because his ears may be witnesses. There's also a few in-jokes about Alfred Hitchcock: the music from VERTIGO is overused, one of the inmates killed her husband with a frozen leg of lamb, and Terry's Bible comes from the "Gates Motel". This was former Warner Bros. director Roy Del Ruth's final film and he gives this nonsense an air of respectability along with a well-done sequence or two. Terry Moore, who co-produced, gives herself four forgettable songs that stop the show for the wrong reasons and having her strapped into an electric chair with a hood pulled over her head comes not a moment too soon. The title tune (!) is saved for last and sung by Duane Eddy.

Classic Film fans may enjoy ogling Moore & Paget or catching Del Ruth's swansong, but others may be tempted to pull the switch themselves.


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