I want to live

Coincidences. Three instances of having heard the phrase I want to live with reference to movies within a week, spoken by women in each case. ( I say nothing about quite how coincidental this is but do feel moved to delineate further the pattern of coincidence.)

1. In Rocco And His Brothers — the final third of it watched last Tuesday morning, as the Prostitute is killed by the weak, brutal brother Simone, rather a long stabbing scene hard for me to watch, so that I actually had the movie on fast forward when I saw the translated dialogue flash up of the prostitute saying “I want to live” as she was stabbed.

2. That afternoon, or the afternoon after, a friend told me he had watched a good movie the past night — I Want to Live with Susan Hayward. Had I seen it?

(Some days later the same friend brought in two LPs of the soundtrack to I Want to Live –by Gerry Mulligan– with reference to the conversation we’d had about the movie) (*).

3.And just now, and what has caused me to remember these other recent instances of this phrase spoken by women in the movies, which would have otherwise been forgotten– at least I believe Susan Hayward does in fact actually say “I want to live” in “I Want to Live” though I haven’t seen it in a while– was Casanova’s Big Night, in which Bob Hope tells a love interest, a widowed vegetable seller played by Joan Fontaine, he “can’t think of anyone he’d rather have his throat cut with” than her (something like that) (he’s afraid of what might result from their immanent encounter with the Doge of Venice, played by Arnold Moss) and she tells him to try not to be his “normal idiotic itself — I want to live.” (The line, intended as lightly comedic, caused me to sit bolt upright.)


The actresses were Annie Girardot, Susan Hayward, and Joan Fontaine. The different settings in which the phrase was spoken would be of interest to explore (well… the issue with coincidences is…. are they statistical, psychological or mystical). The movies were made in 1960, 1958, and 1954. I had thought to watch Casanova’s Big Night because in an interview with Woody Allen I came across, Allen, when asked what was a movie he liked that most people didn’t, (or something like that) answered “Casanova’s Big Night.”

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