Theatrical release lobby card
|Directed by||John Cromwell|
|Produced by||Jerry Wald|
|Screenplay by||Virginia Kellogg|
|Based on||the story "Women Without Men"
by Bernard C. Schoenfeld
|Music by||Max Steiner|
|Cinematography||Carl E. Guthrie|
|Editing by||Owen Marks|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.|
|Running time||96 minutes|
Caged is a 1950 film noir directed by released by John Cromwell and starring Eleanor Parker, Agnes Moorehead, Ellen Corby and Hope Emerson. The movie tells the story of a teenage newlywed, who is sent to prison for being an accessory to a robbery. Her experiences while incarcerated, along with the killing of her husband, change her from a very frightened young girl into a hardened convict.
The movie was adapted by Virginia Kellogg from the story "Women Without Men" by Kellogg and Bernard C. Schoenfeld. The studio had originally intended it as a vehicle for Bette Davis and Joan Crawford earlier but Davis had noted that she didn't want to make a "dyke movie" (a movie with partial homosexual content) and turned it down.
A married 19-year-old (Eleanor Parker) named Marie Allen is sent to prison, after a botched armed robbery attempt with her equally young husband, Tom (who is killed). While receiving her prison physical, she finds out that she is two months pregnant. Despite the hardships she is put through under Matron Evelyn Harper (Hope Emerson), she gives birth to a healthy baby and wants to "temporarily" grant full custody to her mother. The intent is to get the baby back after she is released. However, her mother informs Marie that her callous step-father has decided that under no circumstances will he allow the baby into his house, and she uses the excuses that she's "too old" and "hasn't a penny in [her] name" as reasons why she can't leave him and help Marie. The prison forces her to permanently give the child up for adoption. Marie never sees her baby again. After her exposure to hardened criminals and sadistic prison guards, by the end of the film she leaves prison a hardened woman with debts to the criminals who helped get her released from jail.
Film critic Dennis Schwartz panned the film, writing, "John Cromwell's Caged is ranked as the best women-in-prison film ever made, but even if this is so it still doesn't make it very good. It isn't anything more than a superficial melodrama with plenty of hysterics and preaching about the obvious virtues of going straight. The film was remade as House of Women in 1962 ... This is one of Warner Brothers' social commentary films, where it blames society for the poor prison conditions that turn Marie into a career criminal. It does this without excusing Marie for helping her own fall from grace by willingly choosing the easy way out of her dilemma. The film's message is that punishment without rehabilitation doesn't work, it will only force the inmate into choosing an easy way out of their situation."
- Caged at the American Film Institute Catalog
- Caged at the Internet Movie Database
- Caged at allmovie
- Caged at the TCM Movie Database
- Caged film trailer at YouTube
- Eleanor Parker also stars in the radio drama version, episode #112 of the Screen Directors Playhouse which is a free download at the Internet Archive