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Category:    Home > Reviews > Thriller > Drama > Lady In A Cage

Lady In A Cage


Picture: B-     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 star.


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


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