Lady In A Cage
Audio: B- Extras: D Film: B
A film shot at a time when black and white was not a
necessity, Lady in a Cage (1964) is a towering tray of bad situation on
top of bad situations. The film looks
beautiful and the shot structure is strong.
The confinement of an older woman trapped inside a small private
elevator is compelling, along with mean bastard James Caan (in his first film),
and a safe full of money that a son is willing to kill for all make this film
weave a clever plot. However, the film
is full of loose ends, with many aspects on being tied up at the film’s
resolution. What happened to the woman
locked in the wine room? Did the son
kill himself? Both are unresolved plot
issues you’ll have with this film. However,
the film does deserve props for having a few surprising twists here and there
that will keep your attention up until the film’s climactic ending.
A rich woman (Olivia de Havilland) recently broke her hip
so she is unable to walk up a flight of stairs in her mansion. She kisses her son goodbye as he leaves for
the weekend to go wherever. As soon as
he leaves, the woman gets trapped in her private elevator when a power line
nearby goes out, leaving her trapped in a confined space. By hitting the emergency alarm on the
elevator, she attracts the people that she would frown upon in society and who
are out to make a profit off of her possessions in the house.
The opening titles sequence by Tim Afes for the film is
stunning, which serves as a jazzy sort of tipping of the hat at the work of
Saul Bass, the man who did the titles for many films, including Alfred
Hitchcock films Psycho and North by Northwest. The titles also carry an important message
that is conveyed in the film: the duality between the calm neighborhood that
these people live in versus the chaotic situations happening all around. The film also bares many story elements very
similar to David Fincher’s Panic Room – people trapped in a confined
space while robbers invade their house.
Jeff Corey, Ann Southern and Scatman Crothers (The Shining) also
The anamorphically enhanced 1:85 aspect ratio of the film
looks nice on DVD. The gray scale is
even throughout. Space is flat on all
of the exterior shots, which add to the confinement of the film, so well
captured by cinematographer Lee Garmes.
The sound is actually offered in a Dolby Digital 5.1 remix that is not
bad, but a sliver harsh in spots. Paul
Glass’ music score is effective enough.
The extras on this disc are non-existent, which is upsetting since this
is an interesting film that I wouldn’t mind seeing something for. The basic menu screen brings up the audio
and scene selection options, and the film isn’t long, which doesn’t give the
studio an excuse for not putting anything on the disc. The only exception would be if there was no
material available anymore for Paramount to throw on it, but there is always at
least a trailer.
In short, the film is a fun watch but not a classic. Which is probably why many people haven’t heard
of it. If the film works for you, it will make you realize the added luxuries
we have of not being confined to a box and the ability to actually own the
possessions that we prize most.
- Jamie Lockhart