Susan Hayward won the Oscar for playing Barbara Graham in I Want To Live!
I Want To Live! is a magnificent film that I just love - the shady black and white exterior of the jazzy nights of the 1950s are so brilliantly mastered in the film. It actually takes you back to the 50s better then most movies do then most films of the same time tried to do. The true story of real life murderess Barbara Graham who helped assist the murder of a old woman - in reality, Graham was guilty, but in the film, she is largely portrayed as being innocent. The journey of her life as wild woman to desperate prisoner is fantastic.
But, her high point is really when Barbara finally realizes her reality while in jail - she becomes a desperate woman, unleashing all of her anger and frustration onto everyone at any cost. The final moments of Barbara waiting for a call for her execution is the best moments of Hayward's entire career. She took a shrill, extremely unlikeable character (in many different ways) and made her completely engaging with the audience. She can be fun, sad, challenging, terribly loud - but at the end, we fill for her. It's a magnificently brilliant performance that Susan Hayward carries with all the qualities that were exactly required.