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I Want to Live!

I Want to Live!Based on the true story of accused murderess Barbara Graham, the 1958 movie I Want to Live! employed a jazz soundtrack written by Johnny Mandel and performed by such jazz stalwarts as Gerry Mulligan, Bud Shank and Art Farmer (who appeared in the movie’s opening scenes), along with Frank Rosolino, Jack Sheldon, and Shelly Manne. Susan Hayward (who met a grisly demise in many of her films from the 1940s and 1950s) played Graham, a woman with a troubled past and a real-life jazz and Gerry Mulligan fan who was eventually executed in 1955, despite her protestations of innocence. (Debate continues today over whether or not she actually committed the murder for which she was convicted.) Hayward won an Academy Award for her performance in the movie, I Want to Live 2 which was directed by Hoosier native Robert Wise (The Day the Earth Stood Still, West Side Story, The Haunting, The Sound of Music) We’ll hear music from both versions of the soundtrack that were released, as well as more background on the story behind Barbara Graham and the making of the movie.

Music Heard On This Episode

San Diego Party
Johnny Mandel's Great Jazz Score Orchestra — I Want to Live! (Rykodisc, 1958)
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San Diego Party
Johnny Mandel's Great Jazz Score Orchestra — I Want to Live! (Rykodisc, 1958)
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Life's a Funny Thing
Gerry Mulligan Combo — I Want to Live! (Rykodisc, 1958)
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Henry Leaves
Johnny Mandel's Great Jazz Score Orchestra — I Want to Live! (Rykodisc, 1958)
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Stakeout
Johnny Mandel's Great Jazz Score Orchestra — I Want to Live! (Rykodisc, 1958)
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Nightmare Sequence
Johnny Mandel's Great Jazz Score Orchestra — I Want to Live! (Rykodisc, 1958)
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Trio Convicted
Johnny Mandel's Great Jazz Score Orchestra — I Want to Live! (Rykodisc, 1958)
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Trip to Corona
Johnny Mandel's Great Jazz Score Orchestra — I Want to Live! (Rykodisc, 1958)
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Main Title
Johnny Mandel's Great Jazz Score Orchestra — I Want to Live! (Rykodisc, 1958)

Notes: Midpoint music bed.

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Peg's Visit
Johnny Mandel's Great Jazz Score Orchestra — I Want to Live! (Rykodisc, 1958)
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Theme From I Want to Live
Gerry Mulligan Combo — I Want to Live! (Rykodisc, 1958)
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Barbara's Theme
Gerry Mulligan Concert Jazz Band — Complete Concert Jazz Band Verve Recordings (Mosaic, 1960)
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Preparations for Execution
Johnny Mandel's Great Jazz Score Orchestra — I Want to Live! (Rykodisc, 1958)
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Death Scene
Johnny Mandel's Great Jazz Score Orchestra — I Want to Live! (Rykodisc, 1958)
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David Brent Johnson

Born in Indianapolis, Indiana, David Brent Johnson moved to Bloomington in 1991. He is an alumnus of Indiana University, and began working with WFIU in 2002. Currently, David serves as jazz producer and systems coordinator at the station. His interests include literature, history, music, writing, and movies.

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  • dolores wharton

    I saw movie, I want to live just this week, and when it first came out in 1958, I did not want to see it because it looked too depresive and I was a teen ager and I did not care about it till now. I am 79 years old and it left me with so many unanswered question of the real Barbara Graham. Who she was, I got the impression she had once been a Catholic and it show she prayed to St. Jude, the Saint of impossible cases. I was living in Oakland, ca at the time of her trial and I could not believe she was going with a gangster etc. She showed she would not take anything from anybody and in the 50′s life was tough, very tough, and i sure wish, wo know if she really killed that old lady or she was just guilty by association. I sure wish some one would look into it and talk to her remaing sons and give us the newest news and give us the final truth, not fiction like th e movie.

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