Directed by Robert Wise
Produced by Walter Wanger
Screenplay by Nelson Gidding
Based on Newspaper articles and letters
by Edward S. Montgomery
Starring Susan Hayward
Music by Johnny Mandel
Cinematography Lionel Lindon
Edited by William Hornbeck
Distributed by United Artists
November 18, 1958 (United States)
Country United States
Box office $5,641,711
I Want to Live! is a 1958 film noir written by Nelson Gidding and Don Mankiewicz, produced by Walter Wanger, and directed by Robert Wise, which tells the story of a woman, Barbara Graham, a habitual criminal convicted of murder and facing execution. It stars Susan Hayward as Graham, and also features Simon Oakland, Stafford Repp, and Theodore Bikel. The movie was adapted from letters written by Graham and newspaper articles written by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ed Montgomery. It presents a somewhat fictionalized version of the case showing a possibility of innocence concerning Graham. Today, the charge would be known as felony murder.
The film earned six Oscar nominations, with Hayward winning a Best Actress Oscar at the 31st Academy Awards.
The film tells the story of the life and execution of Barbara Graham (Hayward), a prostitute and convicted perjurer. Graham is the product of a broken home, and works luring men into fixed card games. At one point, she attempts to go straight but marries the “wrong man,” and has a child. He is a drug addict and she ends their relationship.
When her life falls apart, she returns to her former professions and becomes involved with a man who had murdered a woman. The police arrest them, and her companions accuse her of the murder to reduce their own chances of going to the gas chamber. She claims her innocence, but is convicted and executed.