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I Want to Live! (Widescreen) (Sous-titres français)

Susan Hayward , Simon Oakland , Robert Wise    NR (Not Rated)   DVD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 93.71
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Susan Hayward won an Academy Award® for her performance in the compelling 1958 classic I Want to Live! Hayward plays Barbara Graham, a "good-time girl" with a heart of gold and absolutely no instincts about when to drop a bad association. After bouncing in and out of the prison system for a series of petty crimes, Graham suddenly finds herself framed for murder and facing the death penalty. Hayward is simply marvelous, giving a wrenching, complex performance without ever becoming maudlin. Director Robert Wise ratchets the tension up to a nearly unbearable level, making Barbara's moments of hope as agonizing as those of her despair. The film is based on the story of the real-life Barbara Graham, taken from her letters and interviews with reporter Ed Montgomery. Montgomery himself appears as a character, and the film is surprisingly evenhanded about condemning his own role in Graham's conviction. This is definitely a must-see for Hayward fans. --Ali Davis

From the Back Cover

Prostitute, party girl, perjurer, bad-check passer, petty criminal. She's all this and more... but is she a murdered? Susan Hayward won 1958's Best Actress Academy Award® for her "sensational, nerve-shattering performance" (Los Angeles Times) in this harrowing, "must-see" (The Motion Picture Guide) tale that will leave you breathless with suspense.

Arrested for fatally beating an elderly widow, Barbara Graham (Hayward) at first goads the police, refusing to answer their questions. But when an alleged accomplice turns state's evidence, Graham insists that she's innocent. Condemned by the press and the public, Graham is found guilty of murder and sentenced to die in the gas chamber. But as her execution date nears, Graham desperately attempts to expose the truth and save her life against all odds. Fact from the Vault: In addition to winning the Oscar® for Best Actress, I Want to Live! received Academy Award® nominations for Best Director, Screenplay Adaptation, Cinematography (B&W), Sound, and Editing.


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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars She Wanted an Oscar! (And She Got It, Too!) May 13 2002
Format:DVD
Susan Hayward made no bones about her career goals. She had come to Hollywood in the late 1930's not to become "just" an Actress, but a Star. It took a few hard years of playing supporting roles and minor leads, but eventually her talent and determination won out, and she broke through the ranks and achieved her goal. Having reached the top, she set her sights even higher, stating clearly that she was focused on winning an Academy Award. Her first nomination came in 1947 for the hard-hitting drama "Smash-Up: The Story of a Woman", but she lost to Loretta Young in "The Farmer's Daughter". Hayward would rack up three more nominations (for "My Foolish Heart" in 1949; "With a Song In My Heart" in 1952; and "I'll Cry Tomorrow" in 1955) before she finally hit Oscar paydirt in 1958 with "I Want to Live!"
"I Want to Live!" tells the story of Barbara Graham, a wild party girl with a rap sheet a mile long who was convicted of murder in the early 1950's and executed in the gas chamber at San Quentin Penitentiary. The script whitewashes Graham's story, painting her as a more sympathetic character (i.e., "innocent") than she had been in real life, but Hayward comes through with a gutsy tour de force performance that provides the film with just the right amount of gritty toughness that elevates it out of the league of soap opera. Her Barbara Graham may be a "victim" of circumstances and a flawed legal system, but she is also loud, vulgar, crude, flippant, and antisocial, often working against her own best interests. And Hayward never hits a false note, provoking the audience to a strange mixture of contempt and compassion, repulsion and attraction.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:DVD
Susan Hayward was one of the best actresses ever. I just love to watch her. The only real talent to come after her was Faye Dunaway. Anyway, "I Want to Live!" was Hollywood's scathing indictment of the death penalty and is the film for which Susan Hayward is best remembered. It is her Oscar-winning performance. Frankly, I liked her a lot better in "I'll Cry Tomorrow" "Smash Up: The Story of a Woman" and "With a Song in My Heart." I thought she was much better in those, but the Oscar had eluded her, so they wrote this screenplay full of plenty of dramatic scenes to get her the Oscar she rightfully deserved. It worked.
The dialog and plot are excellent and her scenes as the condemned woman hours from execution are still extremely powerful today. In some ways, Susan Hayward was at her very best, and with the perfect script, a rare combination. You still sit there rooting for her to get that stay of execution in the movie, the movie grabs you that much. I've watched this film about 10 times, she never gets the stay, but the situations are so real, you root for one every time.
The only thing that to me does not make this Miss Hayward's best role (apart from maybe a handful of scenes) is that Barbara Graham, the real-life death-row inmate portrayed here, was a low-budget, crude, herion addict who got along by using men, doing petty thefts and sometimes being a prostitute, and I don't mean the $100 an hour ones that come to your hotel room. We're talking low-class street woman. Miss Hayward is nothing of the kind, she doesn't have that look or manner.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bravado Performance Heightens Intense Drama July 10 2002
Format:VHS Tape
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 likeable, 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.
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Most recent customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Good for an older movie.
Published 3 months ago by texas
5.0 out of 5 stars The film that changed my attitude!
I feel that many cold-blooded criminals that're in jail probably deserve the death penalty, but when we can't prove beyond a reasonable doubt that they actually did the crime, then... Read more
Published on March 11 2004 by Dave
5.0 out of 5 stars Hayward Masterpiece!
Maybe I'm a bit partial, being an avid Susan Hayward fan, but "I Want to Live!" must rank as the perfect example of how to meld great story and super talent. Read more
Published on April 28 2003 by W. Pender
4.0 out of 5 stars I WANT AN OSCAR!...
A memorable film from the 50's based allegedly on the true story of a woman named Barbara Graham who went to the gas chamber for a murder she swore she didn't commit. Read more
Published on Oct. 12 2002 by Mark Norvell
1.0 out of 5 stars Catered Susan Hayward movie
I can't believe I'm the only one to give this a negative review. There was only one reason this movie was made and that was to give the oscar to Susan. Read more
Published on Sept. 30 2002 by Beth
5.0 out of 5 stars Hollywood Enters Debate Over Capital Punishment
This powerful crime drama is based on the actual case of Barbara Graham, who was executed in the gas chamber for murder amid debate about the severity of her punishment. Read more
Published on July 7 2002 by Michael Mathena
5.0 out of 5 stars fantastic drama, a tour-de-force by Hayward
I WANT TO LIVE is a stunning film starring the amazing Susan Hayward in her Oscar-winning triumph. Director Robert Wise (THE SOUND OF MUSIC, THE SAND PEBBLES, STAR! Read more
Published on July 7 2002 by Byron Kolln
5.0 out of 5 stars Hayward's Triumph
This is one of the best of the 50s "issue" dramas, and it contains Susan Hayward's finest performance. Read more
Published on May 30 2002
3.0 out of 5 stars Was I Ever Surprised!
Well, I knew that this was about a gal on Death Row, but I kept thinking she'd get her pardon from the Governor--no dice! Read more
Published on Feb. 4 2002 by Linda McDonnell
5.0 out of 5 stars SUSAN HAYWARD. SUSAN HAYWARD
She acts and reacts to the max. No actress at the time(1958) or today could pull off the extremes of such a character as convicted murderess Barbara Graham. Read more
Published on Oct. 20 2001 by The jonquil
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