Robert Wise: I Want To Live (1958) Starring Susan Hayward As Barbara Graham

I Want to Live!

Source:Turner Classic Movies– Susan Hayward as Barbara Graham.

“In 1950 San Francisco, vivacious petty criminal Barbara Ward is caught by the vice squad in a hotel room with a married man who brought her over the state line. To prevent the man’s arrest, Barbara willingly accepts a misdemeanor solicitation charge.

After serving a brief jail term, Barbara returns to her hometown of San Diego and resumes a life of revelry with her best friend, Peg. One evening, two friends from San Francisco visit Barbara to plead with her to provide them with an alibi for a robbery they committed. Nervous about their continual brushes with the law, Peg tells Barbara she cannot continue with their lifestyle and the friends part amicably. Barbara provides the men with a false alibi, but soon after is convicted of perjury and sentenced to a year in prison.

Upon her release, Barbara returns to soliciting and passing bad checks. One evening, bartender Henry “Hank” Graham tips Barbara off to an undercover policeman at his bar, then later introduces the grateful, unemployed Barbara to an acquaintance, thief Emmett Perkins. Perkins offers Barbara a steady job as his “shill,” bringing in unsuspecting men to fleece at his gambling parlor.”

From Turner Classic Movies 

“I Want to Live! Trailer – Directed by Robert Wise and starring Susan Hayward, Simon Oakland, Virginia Vincent, Theodore Bikel, Wesley Lau. The film tells the story of the life and execution of Barbara Graham, a prostitute, drug addict, and convicted perjurer.”

I Want To Live

Source:Movie Clips Classic Trailers– Susan Hayward as Barbara Graham.

From Movie Clips Classic Trailers

I saw this movie today in preparation for this post. Thank you, TCM! This movie is about the adult life and criminal career of Barbara Graham. And this movie gives perhaps the most positive light possible of a career criminal Barbara Graham, who before she was convicted of murder, the most serious crime she was ever convicted as far as actually hurting another person was check forgery. Not to put down check forgery and to make it look anything other than what it is which is, a serious economic crime, that has to be treated seriously with serious consequences for offenders who commit this crime. But Graham, was an economic criminal, not a terrorist, or violent criminal. But she did hang out with people like that.

If I knew nothing about this case before I saw this very good movie with the gorgeous and adorable, great actress Susan Hayward as the lead in the movie playing Barbara Graham, I would say that Graham didn’t deserve the death penalty. And if I was a judge on this case or the Governor of California back when the case was going on, I would’ve commuted her sentence to life without, or life with the possibility of parole after twenty-five years.

I think there is actual doubt in whether Graham is guilty of this murder, but I haven’t seen anything that suggests that she’s innocent either. But even if I believed she was guilty, I would still give her life without or second degree murder.

Barbara Graham, was no angel. She just looked like one and was a career criminal, but a small time economic criminal at worst. Someone who wrote bad checks, prostitution, doing and perhaps using illegal narcotics. But she wasn’t again violent criminal, at least in the sense that she made a career out of physically hurting people.

Even if Barbara Graham did commit the murder that she was convicted of, life without parole or twenty-five to life would’ve given everyone involved the opportunity to prove one way or another where Graham was guilty or not. And again, we’re talking about one murder, which is bad enough, but she wasn’t likely to murder again. At least based on her personality and past. And was someone who society could’ve worked with and even gotten something out of.

About The Daily Review

This is a blog about life and classic Hollywood.
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