Prostitute, party girl, perjurer, bad-check passer, petty criminal. She's all this and more...but is she a murderer? Susan Hayward won 1958's Best Actress Academy AwardÂ(r) 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.
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