[box cover]

Lady in a Cage

One of the screen's great scenery-chomping, kitsch-tastic exploitive drive-in masterpieces, Lady in a Cage (1964) features Olivia de Havilland… in a cage. A snobby upper-crust matron, Mrs. Hillyard (de Havilland) is home alone, recuperating from a broken hip, when she becomes trapped in her private elevator about eight feet above ground level during a power outage. It's a sweltering hot holiday weekend, her neighbors are out of town, and the only person who responds to her alarm bell is a skeezy alcoholic, George L. Brady (Jeff Corey), who gets an equally skeezy prostitute, Sade (Ann Sothern), to help him steal anything they can fence. Sade then tells some of her ne'er-do-well hoodlum buddies — Randall (James Caan), Elaine (Jennifer Billingsley), and Essie (Rafael Campos) — who come to the mansion and have a giggly, unkempt orgy while terrorizing the trapped matron. What makes Lady in the Cage such cheesy good fun is the ham-fisted, early '60s "eat the rich" attitude of the movie — no matter how creepy or crazy the folks are who invade her home, we're made to think that Mrs. Hillyard somehow deserves this treatment because she's a fat-cat rich woman, cruel to her transparently gay son, and a member of the oppressive ruling class. It also satisfies in that bizarre manner of other 1960s grande dame Guignol flicks like Die! Die! My Darling and Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? — watching the elegant Miss de Havilland, so memorable as the sweet-faced Melanie in Gone With the Wind, degenerate over the course of the picture from erudite matron into deranged bloodlust is just good ol' movie fun. James Caan, in only his second screen role, is scary-sexy in a mumbly, tight-jeans, early-Brando sort of a way, and he actually turns in some good acting as the brutal, sexually threatening thug. A great addition to the pantheon of B-movie shockers. Paramount's bare bones release of Lady in a Cage offers a very clean anamorphic transfer (1.85:1) from a good black-and-white source-print. The DD 5.1 audio (in English, with optional English subtitles) is equally good, as is the original monaural track. Keep-case.
—Dawn Taylor

Back to Quick Reviews Index: [A-F] [G-L] [M-R] [S-Z]

Back to Main Page