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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. As revenge, they tell the police that Barbara is the murderer. —Mattias Thuresson
Powerful It Is.
Susan Hayward's powerful performance as Barbara Graham has been much written about, and it is the single best part of this film. But there are so many other perfectly pitched performances surrounding her as well, mostly by actors relatively unknown even to film buffs, or early turns by actors whose faces, if not names, did find a national audience--Virginia Vincent as Peg (she played the mother in The Hills Have Eyes), Gas chamber guard Dabbs Greer (the Rev. on Little House on the Prairie and Picket Fences), and especially Raymond Bailey who plays the San Quentin warden. His understated forthrightness and humaneness are a far cry from his later manic turn as Mr Drysdale on The Beverly Hillbillies (with the addition of a toupee). Robert Wise handles the execution preparations with a clinicism that turns the stomach more than any posturing would do, bringing the horror of impending death home. And following the clock's second with a moving camera closeup, instead of just cutting to the clock on the wall, done so many times, is craftsmanship of the highest order.
- Oct 28, 2000
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