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: I Want To live (1958) The Visual Noir Imprint  ( 307 )
cigar joe
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« : March 14, 2018, 06:50:28 PM »

Barbara Graham (June 26, 1923 June 3, 1955) was a California criminal convicted of murder. She was executed in the gas chamber on the same day as two of her convicted accomplices, Jack Santo and Emmett Perkins, all of whom were involved in the robbery and murder of an elderly widow. Sensationally nicknamed "Bloody Babs" by the press, Graham was the third woman in California to be executed by gas.

The story of Graham's life was sympathetically dramatized in the 1958 film I Want to Live!, in which she was portrayed by Susan Hayward, who by the way, won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance as Graham.

The film also belongs to a small sub genre of Film Noirs that could be termed the Bio Noirs. It also fits into those late 1950s early 1960s  Noirs that I like to tag the "Beat Noir"s and "Tailfin Noirs."

The film was Directed by Robert Wise (Born to Kill (1947), The Set-Up (1949), Somebody Up There Likes Me (1956), Odds Against Tomorrow (1959) and the cinematographer was Lionel Lindon (The Blue Dahlia (1946), Alias Nick Beal (1949), and Quicksand (1950).

Judge it's noir-ish-ness for yourself from the opening sequence screencaps.

Notice the whole Jazz Club sequence is shot with Dutch Angles

Jazz Club

Jazz Musicians





Smokin' reefers!

Taking a hit

A Hooker and her John

The Fuzz

Dive Hotel

Sleasy dive hotel room


A man in her bed, scandalous!

Susan Hayward as prostitute Graham

They're in there officer

"When you feel that rope tighten on your neck you can feel the devil bite your ass"!
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« #1 : March 15, 2018, 01:43:05 AM »

Really strong movie with a knockout performance by Susan Hayward. And even tho the ending is a given, Hayward and the way it's filmed (pretty graphic for the time) make it hit like a punch in the face. The movie does take quite a few liberties with its portrayal of Barbara Graham and the case and all, maybe even a few too many, but in the end the movie by itself works. 8+/10

'I feel all dead inside. I'm backed up in a dark corner and I don't know who's hitting me.' - The Dark Corner (1946)
dave jenkins
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« #2 : March 15, 2018, 09:23:38 AM »

Spun the TT blu a while back and delivered this verdict:
I Want to Live (1958) - 10/10. I put off watching this film for years because I heard it was a message picture. Not only a message picture, but a Robert Wise message picture. Wise is not much of an auteur (though a great craftsman); his messages tend to run to the pedestrian (The Sand Pebbles: "War kills people") or the inane (Odds Against Tomorrow: "Without racial tolerance criminals will never be successful") and sure enough, the theme of IWTL seems to be "It is wrong to railroad an innocent person into the gas chamber." But the film is so well made that the message is almost beside the point. Wise intros with a jazz score, then in rapid succession, gives us 15 separate shots--all Dutch angles!--showing, among other things, the band members playing that very score in the club where the first scene is shot. That's just for starters: the bravura filmmaking goes on to set things up at a tremendous pace, then hurtles events along through incarceration, trial, and finally the inevitable endgame at San Quentin. There is a documentary quality to much of the beautiful black-and-white photography. Time is dilated in the final sequence to make the wait for the execution excruciating--temporary stays add to the suspense. The attention to detail is terrific. If you ever wanted to know the procedure for running a gas chamber you'll be satisfied after seeing this. And then there's the central performance by Susan Hayward. The character she plays is based on an actual woman named Barbara Graham, and Hayward makes her very, very real (Ms. Hayward won an Oscar for the portrayal).  In any other film that one performance would have been sufficient to carry the film, but Wise places it among a host of fantastic supporting and bit roles. IMDb lists a cast of 85 (only 27 credited). Great character actors like Simon Oakland and Theodore Bikel and John Marley (as Father Devers!) contribute, but also TV regulars like Stafford Repp (Batman's Chief O'Hara), Wesley Lau (Perry Mason's Sgt. Anderson), Raymond Bailey (The Beverly Hillbillies' Mr. Drysdale) and a very thin Gavin MacLeod. Then there are cameos by Dabbs Greer, Jack Weston, Peter Breck, even S. John Launer (the guy who can never remember the combination to the safe in Marnie; also, many judges on Perry Mason). And many more--so many that I cannot account for them all. The effect is to create a world like our own, populated as ours is (which almost never happens in a picture). The new Blu-ray from Twilight Time is gorgeous.

That's what you get, Drink, for not appreciating the genius of When You Read This Letter.
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« #3 : March 19, 2018, 10:12:46 PM »

Of course, since this is the SLWB, we are obligated to mention in this thread that Sergio died while watching this movie on TV.

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