“… the plot of our life sweats in the dark like a face
the mystery of childbirth, of childhood itself
what is it that calls to us?
why must we pray screaming?
why must not death be redefined?
we shut our eyes we stretch out our arms
and whirl on a pane of glass
an afixiation a fix on anything the line of life the limb of a tree
the hands of he and the promise that she is blessed among women…”
Patti Smith – Dancing Barefoot (1979)
Caged (1950) is a gritty hard-hitting social problem picture from Warner Bros. A young woman is jailed after she is an unwitting accomplice in a gas-station robbery with her husband, who is killed during the heist. The sheltered girl on admittance to a women’s prison discovers she is pregnant, but her condition does not protect her from the humiliation and brutalisation of prison life. Melodramatic but with a strong social conscience that targets corrupt authorities, the movie is downbeat and pessimistic. Eleanor Parker in the lead is powerfully convincing, and is supported by a strong female cast, including Agnes Moorehead as a compassionate and crusading superintendent, and Hope Emerson as a corrupt and sadistic block matron. Though set-bound the regimentation and claustrophobia of incarceration is given a strong expressionist treatment by director John Cromwell and DP Carl Guthrie. A moody evocative score from Max Steiner adds emotional depth.
The trailer which I have put together is deliberately impressionistic and focuses on the anguished transformation of Parker’s character from scared girl to street-wise dame…