Tom Gregory's Hollywood Vault radio clips, as featured on Leeza Gibbons' national radio program Hollywood Confidential!
I Want to Live
Below is a transcript of the review on the audio file playable above.Susan Hayward’s “I Want to Live”, is the attitude-altering 1958 tearjerker based upon the life of convicted murderer Barbara Graham. Raised virtually fatherless by a mother who spent time in jail, Barbara’s life was tough from the moment she took her first screaming breath.
Barbara’s was an unwanted childhood from the seedy side of town. If despair was a crop her parents were its farmers, and an apathetic society was its fertilizer.
Young, beautiful Barbara Graham was the kind of wild child that makes sailors smile and policemen cringe. Reform school, robbery, and rubber checks defined her life. She became a desperate Angelpuss who rolled the dice, drowned men’s sorrows, and drove the getaway car, running from the law in high heels and herringbone suits. When she’s nabbed by the dogcatchers on a questionable murder charge, she refuses to bark. The newsboys dub her “Bloody Babs” for her heartless crime and her tough-as-nails courtroom demeanor. The trial’s headlines freaked out Valium crazed Americans looking for some kind of suburban tract-home peace following the madness and mayhem that was WWII.
Soon after Graham’s story had ended, Susan Hayward’s began filming “I Want to Live”. Directed by Robert Wise, of “The Sound of Music” fame, it’s slightly campy at the start. Your patience pays off when the film takes a dark turn into the primitive reality of capitol punishment. It jolts you into tears not only for Barbara but for all of us. Society desperately deals out eye-for-an eye blind justice, reflecting the act we say we abhor. When we see Barbara Graham for the lost soul she really is, “Thou Shalt Not Kill” seems as far away in this film as in any war.
Susan Hayward earned one of the Academy’s most deserved Oscars for her depiction of the desperate dame determined to hold on to her lost life. 1958’s “I Want to Live” defined Hayward’s career and continues to force insightful thought. Hooray for Hollywood.