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I Want To Live! Review

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Barabara Graham (Hayward) was arrested for the murder of an older lady, and faced the death penalty. During her trial, her background and reputation for being 'easy' (hey, it's the '50s) impede her innocence.

★★★★★

Susan Hayward was alone in converting one of the six Oscar nominations bestowed upon this earnest biopic of convicted killer Barbara Graham.

Hayward was never the subtlest of actresses, yet she admirably conveys the shift from wisecracking broad to terrified patsy as the prospect of the gas chamber inexorably becomes a reality. Robert Wise's edgy use of close-ups and Johnny Mandel's nuanced jazz score also play their part in this transition. But Wise's direction is inconsistent, with the tension often being allowed to slacken, most notably while psychiatrist Theodore Bikel and journalist Simon Oakland attempt to prove that Hayward was framed.

Small inconsistencies make this an uncommon blip of weakness on Robert Wise's tremendous CV, but it's by no means painful viewing.