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There are movies that pull no punches.  They do a hard take on a hard world.  They face it with set teeth, narrowed eyes, a sneer.  They grab you by the lapels and toss you across the room.  Or they wring you dry.  More than waiting for the oncoming doom, they rush toward it, eager to spit in death's eye.  Of all the movies I know like that, there is none more unrelenting and unforgiving as I Want To Live! (1958).  It's a non-stop frenzied portrait of a woman's spiral into the abyss.  Normally I don't care for these kinds of movies.  The plot commands, turning the characters into pawns.  Here the story grows out of the lead woman's nature, a curious combination of seasoned operator and credulous dupe.  You watch with stunned fascination as she leaps from one desperate situation to another, staying just ahead of the crumbling edge of chaos.  Susan Hayward delivers a blunt-instrument performance, one of her best.  I don't think any other actress could have done the same. 

All the same, it's a movie I find impossible to watch.  I've only seen it all the way through once.  I've tried a few times, but the depiction of her betrayal, by others and by herself is too gut-wrenching, and is capped off with what must be the most harrowing end to any movie.  The universe, not content with playing her for a fool, an object of contempt, will have its last little joke, toying with her maliciously at the moment of her destruction. 

I recorded it.  I watched half of it.  I'll watch the other half.  Not tonight, it's too late.  Tomorrow.

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This is a really good film to watch. It has great performances, great music and moves along briskly. It is quite fictionalized, though. Of course, this is what Hollywood did at that time.

Lindsay Wagner starred in a TV version of the same story with the same title in the 1980's in which she also gave a fine performance and wasn't quite as sanitized.

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I just don't get it.  I first saw this movie on TV when I was 14(1965)  and neither found it difficult nor "impossible" to watch. I do suppose however, there ARE some who might cry every time they hear their bug zappers go "Zzzttt!" .  ;) 

Now, if the execution scene in the movie was actual footage of the actual Barbara Graham execution, I might have found it hard to look at.  But knowing it was just an actress in a Hollywood reenactment, it didn't bother me at all. In fact, it helped steel my opposition to the death penalty. 

But personal soap boxing aside, I think it's a very good movie.

Sepiatone

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11 hours ago, Sepiatone said:

I just don't get it.  I first saw this movie on TV when I was 14(1965)  and neither found it difficult nor "impossible" to watch. I do suppose however, there ARE some who might cry every time they hear their bug zappers go "Zzzttt!" .  ;) 

Now, if the execution scene in the movie was actual footage of the actual Barbara Graham execution, I might have found it hard to look at.  But knowing it was just an actress in a Hollywood reenactment, it didn't bother me at all. In fact, it helped steel my opposition to the death penalty. 

But personal soap boxing aside, I think it's a very good movie.

Sepiatone

If you are not affected by the movies you watch, why do you watch them?

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22 hours ago, slaytonf said:

There are movies that pull no punches.  They do a hard take on a hard world.  They face it with set teeth, narrowed eyes, a sneer.  They grab you by the lapels and toss you across the room.  Or they wring you dry.  More than waiting for the oncoming doom, they rush toward it, eager to spit in death's eye.  Of all the movies I know like that, there is none more unrelenting and unforgiving as I Want To Live! (1958).  It's a non-stop frenzied portrait of a woman's spiral into the abyss.  Normally I don't care for these kinds of movies.  The plot commands, turning the characters into pawns.  Here the story grows out of the lead woman's nature, a curious combination of seasoned operator and credulous dupe.  You watch with stunned fascination as she leaps from one desperate situation to another, staying just ahead of the crumbling edge of chaos.  Susan Hayward delivers a blunt-instrument performance, one of her best.  I don't think any other actress could have done the same. 

All the same, it's a movie I find impossible to watch.  I've only seen it all the way through once.  I've tried a few times, but the depiction of her betrayal, by others and by herself is too gut-wrenching, and is capped off with what must be the most harrowing end to any movie.  The universe, not content with playing her for a fool, an object of contempt, will have its last little joke, toying with her maliciously at the moment of her destruction. 

I recorded it.  I watched half of it.  I'll watch the other half.  Not tonight, it's too late.  Tomorrow.

I watched it all the way through for the first time the other night, too. However in my case, it had been the first half of the film I hadn't ever recalled watching prior.

And after finally catching the setup to Barbara Graham's short life story and then sticking around for the rest of it, I found I had an even greater appreciation for the high quality of this movie in all of its aspects, and not just in Susan Hayward's excellent performance. 

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11 hours ago, slaytonf said:

If you are not affected by the movies you watch, why do you watch them?

Did I say that?  I think not......

I only alluded that the movie in question didn't affect me negatively.  At least to the point of finding it(or any other movie) "difficult" or "impossible" to watch. Unless of course, the movie is so sloppily shot or poorly written and/or acted that sitting through it's entirety becomes a chore and a certain insult to my intelligence. OR simply boring as hell. 

And I have to agree with Darg's assessment of Hayward's excellent performance as this is the only Susan Hayward movie I could sit through, as Ms. Hayward was an actress I never much cared for otherwise. 

Sepiatone

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As you say here and elsewhere it doesn't affect you negatively.  Then how can movies affect you otherwise?  So why watch?

13 hours ago, Sepiatone said:

And I have to agree with Darg's assessment of Hayward's excellent performance

But not mine.

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13 hours ago, Sepiatone said:

Unless of course, the movie is so sloppily shot or poorly written and/or acted that sitting through it's entirety becomes a chore and a certain insult to my intelligence. OR simply boring as hell.

You'd be surprised how entertaining people like me find movies like that!

I WANT TO LIVE is of course and as you said, very good.  SIMON OAKLAND is wonderful in his part.  My favorite bit is SUSAN HAYWARD raising and shaking her right hand, laying it open and declaring: "No dice!" 

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55 minutes ago, slaytonf said:

As you say here and elsewhere it doesn't affect you negatively.  Then how can movies affect you otherwise?  So why watch?

But not mine.

I've never been able to watch the movie all the way through even though Susan Hayward is one of my favorite actresses.

It just gets more and more depressing. But I've seen the beginning and the end.

The end is most impressive. The End right from her being strapped in that chair to Simon Oakland walking out of the penitentiary.

The only scene I saw that I can't get out of my mind--

and I don't ever want to see again--

 is when she sees her baby for the last time. It's simply horrible.

  Susan Hayward, who was no stranger to depression and tragedy, really knew how to play that or I should say she knew how to live it.

The only other result of this film for me is that it made me against capital punishment for the rest of my life.

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11 hours ago, slaytonf said:

As you say here and elsewhere it doesn't affect you negatively.  Then how can movies affect you otherwise?  So why watch?

 

What bothers you more....

That the movie doesn't affect me negatively, or it doesn't affect me the same way it does you

Y'know, there ARE more ways than one in how a movie( book or piece of music) can affect anyone.  As with this movie, knowing that, going in, it was supposed to be based on a true story, and knowing how Hollywood usually handles those, I'm left wondering how much of Barbara Grahams' story, as depicted in the movie, was embellished. Other than that, the movie impressed me.  And mostly because of the deft handling of the material by both the director and the cast. 

Sepiatone

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I'm not bothered, just wondering.  You say here and elsewhere you are not negatively affected by this execution scene or hangings because you know it's only actors playing roles.  Are you made happy by movies?  Or angry by what you see?  Does an action sequence excite you?  But you know it isn't real.  It's only actors, and the action is staged.

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And if it's staged and well executed(no pun intent ;) )  I'm left impressed. Now, I might be disappointed in how the movie turns out, or by some plot twists, but not to the point I find a movie "impossible" to watch. In fact, that sort of attitude puts in mind the idea that kids have that when they hide their eyes and can't see you, they think it also means you can't see them.  Fact too is;

Executions, hangings and lynchings are all things that have happened, no matter how fairly or unfairly.  And turning away or refusing to watch a reenactment  or say, a staged lynching of a fictional lynching( think "Ox Bow Incident") doesn't erase the fact that these kind of things happened.  Real or not.  And to turn away from what's true is to live in denial of history.  And we all know what's said about forgetting or ignoring history.

Sepiatone

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2 hours ago, Sepiatone said:

And if it's staged and well executed(no pun intent ;) )  I'm left impressed. Now, I might be disappointed in how the movie turns out, or by some plot twists, but not to the point I find a movie "impossible" to watch. In fact, that sort of attitude puts in mind the idea that kids have that when they hide their eyes and can't see you, they think it also means you can't see them.  Fact too is;

Executions, hangings and lynchings are all things that have happened, no matter how fairly or unfairly.  And turning away or refusing to watch a reenactment  or say, a staged lynching of a fictional lynching( think "Ox Bow Incident") doesn't erase the fact that these kind of things happened.  Real or not.  And to turn away from what's true is to live in denial of history.  And we all know what's said about forgetting or ignoring history.

Sepiatone

Yeah, doesn't it go somethin' like:

"Those who don't know history can now days become President"???  ;)

LOL

 

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12 hours ago, Sepiatone said:

And if it's staged and well executed(no pun intent ;) )  I'm left impressed. Now, I might be disappointed in how the movie turns out, or by some plot twists, but not to the point I find a movie "impossible" to watch. In fact, that sort of attitude puts in mind the idea that kids have that when they hide their eyes and can't see you, they think it also means you can't see them.  Fact too is;

Executions, hangings and lynchings are all things that have happened, no matter how fairly or unfairly.  And turning away or refusing to watch a reenactment  or say, a staged lynching of a fictional lynching( think "Ox Bow Incident") doesn't erase the fact that these kind of things happened.  Real or not.  And to turn away from what's true is to live in denial of history.  And we all know what's said about forgetting or ignoring history.

Sepiatone

Since I was ignored by the OP, I ask you... have YOU seen GERMANIA ANNO ZERO (Germany Year Zero - 1948)?   Now THAT is a "tough" movie; the ending is incomparable to anything I've seen in cinema...

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On 6/17/2020 at 9:05 AM, sagebrush said:

This is a really good film to watch. It has great performances, great music and moves along briskly. It is quite fictionalized, though. Of course, this is what Hollywood did at that time.

Lindsay Wagner starred in a TV version of the same story with the same title in the 1980's in which she also gave a fine performance and wasn't quite as sanitized.

whatever happened to wagner by the way

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On 6/19/2020 at 12:29 AM, Allhallowsday said:

You must not have seen GERMANIA ANNO ZERO or TWO WOMEN...

many, many, critics and historians now truly believe NATALIE WOOD as DEANIE in 1961's SPLENDOR IN THE GRASS over LOREN

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12 hours ago, Allhallowsday said:

Since I was ignored by the OP, I ask you... have YOU seen GERMANIA ANNO ZERO (Germany Year Zero - 1948)?   Now THAT is a "tough" movie; the ending is incomparable to anything I've seen in cinema...

Never had the chance.  But I have heard good things about it.  The only "Year Zero" flick I've seen is that piece of fluff from '62 with RAY MILLAND and FRANKIE AVALON.  Which I REALLY liked as an 11 year old, but only like it still for nostalgic reasons.  ;) 

Sepiatone

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On 6/17/2020 at 12:41 AM, slaytonf said:

There are movies that pull no punches.  They do a hard take on a hard world.  They face it with set teeth, narrowed eyes, a sneer.  They grab you by the lapels and toss you across the room.  Or they wring you dry. 

Another film fits the bill from 1932.  If he only just left a quite life.

51KLD1HXT+L._AC_SY445_.jpg

tumblr_na8g65pWZj1re1poeo1_1280.jpg

paul-muni-i-am-a-fugitive-from-a-chain-g

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Susan Hayward turns in an Oscar winning performance in I WANT TO LIVE!, but clearly the movie has a bias against the death penalty. Understandable for cinema in those days I suppose.

My choice for one tough movie to watch is 1995's DEAD MAN WALKING, a far more balanced film that looks at both sides of the arguments for or against capital punishment. I find this a far more fresh approach than the 'death penalty is cruel' argument that I WANT TO LIVE! was going for. Plus it boasts great performances from Susan Sarandon (who also won an Oscar for her performance) as Sister Helen Prejean and Sean Penn who does a brilliant job of not romanticizing his condemned character.

For the record, I am sort of neutral on the issue of capital punishment. I do think in some cases it can be an absolute necessity (Ted Bundy for example) to keep the rest of society safe.

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11 hours ago, spence said:

many, many, critics and historians now truly believe NATALIE WOOD as DEANIE in 1961's SPLENDOR IN THE GRASS over LOREN

I'm not making any comparisons with Loren,  but I think, "Splendor in the Grass" fits this category very well as a film that's almost too sad to watch.  The ending, not  just  Deanie but Bud and his wife, Angelina, were all three tragic enough to make me cry and I don't cry easily at films.

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33 minutes ago, AndreaDoria said:

I'm not making any comparisons with Loren,  but I think, "Splendor in the Grass" fits this category very well as a film that's almost too sad to watch.  The ending, not  just  Deanie but Bud and his wife, Angelina, were all three tragic enough to make me cry and I don't cry easily at films.

HEY, and speaking of, ahem, the "Andrea Doria"...here's a movie I always thought was a pretty tough watch and ever since I first caught it on TV back when I was a kid...

The-Last-Voyage-1960-Robert-Stack-Doroth

                                                             The Last Voyage

(...aaah, now ain't I the clever one?!)  ;)

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