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Cage Without a Key (1975)

A teenage girl's charismatic boyfriend frames her in a robbery and she finds herself convicted of first-degree murder.


Buzz Kulik


Joanna Lee


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Susan Dey ... Valerie Smith
Jonelle Allen ... Tommy
Sam Bottoms ... Buddy Goleta
Anne Bloom ... Joleen
Karen Carlson ... Betty Holian
Edith Diaz Edith Diaz ... Angel Perez
Susie Elene ... Suzy Kurosawa (as Suesie Eléne)
Dawn Frame Dawn Frame ... Sarah
Katherine Helmond ... Mrs. Little
Victoria Huxtable Victoria Huxtable ... Jamie (as Vicky Huxtable)
Karen Morrow ... Mrs. Turner
Lani O'Grady ... Noreen
Margaret Willock ... Wanda Polsky
Michael Brandon ... Ben Holian
Ann D'Andrea Ann D'Andrea ... Mrs. Smith


New high school graduate Valerie is on a road trip with a friend when the car breaks down. Buddy, a casual male friend of Valerie's companion pulls over and offers a ride to the girls. Valerie reluctantly decides to take Buddy up on his offer and goes with him while her friend rides with the tow truck driver back to town. Valerie gets very uncomfortable with Buddy's attempts to come on to her and wants him to let her out by the road. He convinces her to stay and drives to a liquor store. He forces Valerie inside after showing her a gun and robs the store, shooting 2 people and killing one. The police come and arrest Valerie and Buddy shortly after. Valerie is charged with murder and convicted despite testimony from her friend and her public defender's help. Sentenced to a tough reform school, Valerie must find a way to survive. Written by jacartist66

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The tortures of prison were a harsh and hideous reality. But for an innocent teenager, it was a long nightmare with no escape. See more »









Release Date:

14 March 1975 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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User Reviews

A bit predictable but nonetheless disturbing drama!
25 January 2003 | by bfjrnskiSee all my reviews

"Cage without a Key" attempts to tell a rather worn-out,innocent-teenaged girl-behind bars story with a surprisingly effective disguise as a commentary on our nation's indifference towards it's troubled youth!Nonetheless "Cage without a key" reveals some heavy moments of genuine drama within it's shell of a story that we've all seen before!

The story concerns 17-year-old Valerie Smith.During her summer vacation she accepts a ride from a boy she barely knows and finds herself forced (at gunpoint) to participate in a botched robbery and charged as an accessory to a murder!Sent to the state reformatory for girls,young and naive Valerie is wrongly surrounded by the usual circle of tough lesbians,half-crazed druggies,warring gangs(called"families") and the panel of efficient and uncaring professionals who exclaim pride in their "school" and it's "rehabilitation" program!Of course young Valerie gradually becomes just like the others and even loses all hope of any eventual "release".But all in all,the movie is rather smoothly done!With some excellent and believable performances and scenery."Cage without a Key" does a good job of making us believe that we haven't seen it all before!

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