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114 Ratings

I Want to Live!

Directed by Robert Wise
United States, 1958
Biography, Drama, Crime


Barbara Graham is a woman with dubious moral standards, often a guest in seedy bars. She has been sentenced for some petty crimes. Two men she knows murder an older woman. When they get caught they start to think that Barbara has helped the police to arrest them.

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I Want to Live! Directed by Robert Wise

Awards & Festivals

Academy Awards

1959 | Winner: Best Actress in a Leading Role

1959 | 5 nominations including: Best Director

Mar del Plata International Film Festival

1959 | Winner: Best Actress

BAFTA Awards

1960 | Nominee: Best Foreign Actress

Directors Guild of America

1959 | Nominee: Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures

Critics reviews

Rather than didactic farce, the mode is high-powered melodrama — the samurai warrior here is Susan Hayward, who became one of Hollywood’s top female stars by embodying sassy determination in the face of extreme hardship. Announcing itself as a “factual story,” “I Want to Live!” — directed by Robert Wise — plunges into a wildly expressionistic vision of a San Francisco jazz club.
March 24, 2016
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Wise is a true professional, and skillfully shifts the film stylistically from the noirish first half to the documentary realism of the second half. Hayward’s explosive performance dominates the film, making every viewer riveted on her. It means that almost every other character is turned into an extra, devoid of individuality. That’s the film’s primary flaw, but it’s nevertheless a solid work whose social critique still has a great impact.
February 29, 2016
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