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Caged (1950)

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A naive nineteen year old widow becomes coarsened and cynical when she is sent to a woman's prison and is exposed to hardened criminals and sadistic guards.

Director:

John Cromwell
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Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Eleanor Parker ... Marie Allen
Agnes Moorehead ... Ruth Benton
Ellen Corby ... Emma Barber
Hope Emerson ... Evelyn Harper
Betty Garde ... Kitty Stark
Jan Sterling ... Jeta Kovsky - aka Smoochie
Lee Patrick ... Elvira Powell
Olive Deering ... June Roberts - Inmate
Jane Darwell ... Isolation Matron
Gertrude Michael ... Georgia Harrison
Sheila MacRae ... Helen (as Sheila Stevens)
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Storyline

Frightened 19-year-old Marie Allen gets sent to an Illinois penitentiary for being an accomplice in an armed robbery. A sympathetic prison head tries to help, but her efforts are subverted by cruel matron Evelyn Harper. Marie's harsh experiences turn her from doe-eyed innocent to hard-nosed con. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Will she come out a woman or a wildcat? See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Film-Noir

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

10 June 1950 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Femmes en cage See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The movie does touch on lesbianism when the lead character of Marie Allen, portrayed beautifully by Eleanor Parker, is crying for her dead husband. A fellow bunk mate inmate, hearing her bellows, asks her why she's crying and when Marie Allen answers her question that her crying was over her husband who was killed, her bunk mate says " Don't worry honey after a while you won't think of men anymore. It just comes natural ". It's also implied that the character of Elvira Powell, portrayed perfectly by Lee Patrick, seems to be personally interested in Marie Allen. See more »

Goofs

When Marie Allen announces that her kitten has died, the cat opens its mouth. See more »

Quotes

Marie Allen: Kindly omit the flowers.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Reform School Girls (1986) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

"Babes Behind Bars" It Ain't
5 April 2010 | by dougdoepkeSee all my reviews

No need to repeat the plot.

Catch that long tracking shot of Harper (Emerson) taking inmate attendance one-by-one. It goes on much longer than expected as each inmate gets a brief moment on screen. Importantly, we see that each is a perfectly ordinary looking woman far from the usual Hollywood glamour type. I single out this minor scene because it's director Cromwell's way of showing the film's serious intent despite all the gripping melodramatics.

What the movie does so effectively is combine first-rate melodramatics with a powerful case for liberal reform. That's because, despite its mission, the prison amounts to a breeding ground of criminality. For example, nineteen-year old Marie (Parker)"flops" in as a wide-eyed innocent but leaves as a hardened criminal; guard Harper's sadism and influence-peddling flourishes; day-to-day routines strip inmates of self-respect; the medical dispensary remains under-funded and filthy; while the entire package is held together by state politics, skimpy budgets, and behind the scenes string-pulling. Apparently screenwriter Kellogg researched her subject, so likely the subtext mirrors much of the reality of the time.

Understandably, this message part is over-shadowed by some of the strongest and most unusual dramatic acting of the period. Seldom has any film featured as many mannish women as this one, and at a time when feminine stereotypes not only prevailed but excluded all else. The producers went out on a limb with this one. But it paid off with two memorable performances-- Emerson's shambling gait and slow-motion cruelty, along with queen-bee Garde's sudden descent into hollow-eyed dementia. The results here are both exotic and unforgettable.

One scene has stayed with me over the years. Marie expects some relief as lights go out on her first night in prison. But then the real horror starts. All the pent-up emotions and adjustments of the day come tumbling out—the crying, the coughing, an animal scream. Marie hunkers down in the sheets, wide-eyed awake. Now she knows. There is no relief. Not even in the dark. The prison nightmare never ends.

This is one of the daring gems of the noir period before the Cold War retreat of the 1950's. Thanks to a powerful convergence of movie-making, the movie's as riveting now as it was then. Don't miss it.


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