24 user 13 critic

Chained for Life (1952)

A Siamese twin kills the husband who left her. The courts have to decide if she is convicted of murder, how can they punish her sister, who had nothing to do with the crime?



(screenplay), (additional dialogue) (as Albert de Pina) | 1 more credit »

Watch Now

Free at Internet Archive

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

A biography of Daisy and Violet Hilton, conjoined twins who started as "freaks" in side shows, then went on to be stars of Vaudeville and films.

Director: Leslie Zemeckis
Stars: Lea Thompson, Nancy Allen, Timothy Stack
Freaks (1932)
Drama | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A circus' beautiful trapeze artist agrees to marry the leader of side-show performers, but his deformed friends discover she is only marrying him for his inheritance.

Director: Tod Browning
Stars: Wallace Ford, Leila Hyams, Olga Baclanova
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.7/10 X  

A girl visiting her sister in Hollywood hopes for a modeling career, but is tricked by pimps into working at a brothel.

Director: W. Merle Connell
Stars: Joy Reynolds, Geri Moffatt, Marko Perri
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 3.8/10 X  

Drug dealer on the run from the law meets an innocent young girl and her brother, and turns them into "cocaine fiends."

Director: William A. O'Connor
Stars: Lois January, Noel Madison, Sheila Bromley
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.5/10 X  

Young girls are cheated in rigged gambling games and then forced into prostitution to pay off their debts.

Director: Elmer Clifton
Stars: Martha Chapin, Wheeler Oakman, Bryant Washburn
Mad Youth (1940)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.1/10 X  

A rich society mother hires a male escort, but he falls for her daughter instead. The mother-daughter conflict forces the daughter to run off to stay with a friend who is enslaved by a prostitution ring.

Director: Melville Shyer
Stars: Mary Ainslee, Betty Compson, Willy Castello
Escort Girl (1941)
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.1/10 X  

A pair of nightclub owners run a string of escort bureaus where men pay for the "companionship" of young women. The district attorney sends an undercover agent to infiltrate the bureaus.

Director: Edward E. Kaye
Stars: Betty Compson, Margaret Marquis, Robert Kellard
Marihuana I (1936)
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 3.9/10 X  

A young girl slowly becomes a dope pusher.

Director: Dwain Esper
Stars: Harley Wood, Hugh McArthur, Pat Carlyle
Sex Madness (1938)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 2.5/10 X  

Philanthropist Paul Lorenz is one of the more public faces in the fight against behavior that spreads the many "social diseases", such as syphilis and gonorrhea. An example of such behavior... See full summary »

Director: Dwain Esper
Stars: Vivian McGill, Rose Tapley, Al Rigali
Maniac (1934)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 3.4/10 X  

A former vaudevillian gifted at impersonation assists a mad scientist in reanimating corpses and soon goes mad himself.

Director: Dwain Esper
Stars: Bill Woods, Horace B. Carpenter, Ted Edwards
Child Bride (1938)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.5/10 X  

Schoolteacher in a rural community campaigns to stop the practice of older men marrying young, underage girls.

Director: Harry Revier
Stars: Shirley Mills, Bob Bollinger, Warner Richmond
Baby Daze (1939)
Comedy | Short
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

Edgar mistakenly believes he is about to become a father, and it changes his whole personality.

Director: Charles E. Roberts
Stars: Edgar Kennedy, Vivien Oakland, Billy Franey


Cast overview, first billed only:
Violet Hilton ...
Vivian Hamilton (as The Hilton Sisters)
Daisy Hilton ...
Dorothy Hamilton (as The Hilton Sisters)
Mario Laval ...
Andre Pariseau
Patricia Wright ...
Alan Keys ...
Defense Attorney
Norval Mitchell ...
Judge Mitchell (as Norvel Mitchell)
Brian O'Hara
Herbert Lytton ...
District Attorney
Dr. Thompson
James Hope ...
(as Jim Hope)
Roy Regnier
Zena Barry ...
(as Zena Bary)
Tony Iavello ...
Singer (as Tony Lavello)


Siamese twins are a singing act, apparently in vaudeville. Their manager, to drum up business bribes a man who has a shooting act to become romantically involved with her. The bribe works and business increases dramatically. The man proposes marriage and the proposal is accepted. He walks out on her on their wedding night to remain with his assistant with whom he has a relationship. The sister of the rejected bride shoots him during his act. The movie starts with the judge, who is hearing the case without a jury, advises us, the audience, that this is a difficult case. The movie poses the question of whether he can punish the one who is the shooter without punishing the other sister. Written by davidfbook@sbcglobal.net

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The Loves and Lives of the Hilton Sisters See more »


Crime | Film-Noir


See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

January 1952 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Enchaînées pour la vie  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Much of the plot was derived from real events in the lives of Siamese twins Daisy Hilton and Violet Hilton: the sham-marriage for publicity; the difficulty getting a marriage license due to morals concerns; the vaudeville singing career. See more »


Vivian Hamilton: we've always said we were like other people yet different; from the moment we started to crawl and the leg of the table got between us and we couldn't pass.
See more »


Featured in 100 Years of Horror: Freaks (1996) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Text-Book Exploitation Flick
7 December 2001 | by (Sunland, CA) – See all my reviews

One has to really feel sorry for the Hilton sisters. Fine vaudeville singers, they were screwed over throughout their whole lives due to the fact that they were conjoined (siamese) twins. It should be fitting then, that they took the lead roles in this film, based on their lives.

CHAINED FOR LIFE tells the story (typical of the time, in "flashback") of Vivian and Dorothy Hamilton (couldn't they be a little less obvious with the names?), conjoined twins who sing in a vaudeville show, but are humiliated by their manager through a publicity marriage stunt that goes horribly wrong when one of the twins genuinely falls in love with the "husband" Andre, only to have her heart broken when he takes the pay advance promised him for the stunt, reveals he never loved her, and annuls the marriage to marry his "normal" lover. The other twin, who never liked him anyway, avenges her sister's sorrow by shooting him during one of his final presentations with his own pistol (he was the show's trick shooter). A single judge in court has to hear the case and decide the fate of both twins, the guilty and the innocent.

Sounds interesting right? I thought so too, unfortunately this film totally ditches the court-room aspect which pulled me in, focusing instead on the re-telling of the plight of the heartbreak and the marriage stunt. In retrospect, this was probably a good thing, because the film is boring, and limiting it to the court room would be the only thing that could make the film even worse. The acting is totally dry, and, although the film attempts to address the morality of the situation and has some interesting/thoughtful quotes in monologues towards the end, the script is humdrum, exactly the same as all the other dull, low-budget '50s "thrillers", only with conjoined twins!

One can't really blame the Hilton sisters though. They deliver the goods in several musical sequences in the film, which have no purpose whatsoever other than to show us that, though bad actors, the Hilton sisters are great singers; this is really the only reason to watch the film, to see the "amazing singing siamese twins". Really, it's sad that this film and FREAKS were the only way the Hiltons could be preserved, since neither film shows their true potential, as prejudice against them had ensured that they would never get a proper recording or film contract. This is why the film itself is ironic, since its only appeal to the audience is to gawk at the siamese twins (save for those short times when we are swept up in song and hear the voices, ignoring the bodies they came from) and its overlying message is about how they have suffered throughout their lives and how this gawking and exploitation is wrong.

9 of 11 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
like to see better adaptation of their real lives dwpollar
Interested in possible solutions to the verdict vodochic
Discuss Chained for Life (1952) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: