Friday, May 27, 2011

Olivia deHavilland & James Caan in Lady in a Cage (1964)

To round out this week of "Grand Dame Guignol" films we turn to Olivia deHavilland. My friend Matt Maranian suggested this one. Mrs. Cornelia Hilyard (deHavilland) is a wealthy widow who has some temporary ambulatory problems because of recent hip surgery. Because of this she has an elevator in her home. After seeing her son off on a long weekend vacation she finds herself trapped in the elevator due to a power failure. She's alone in the house with no one expected home until the following Tuesday. In her calls for help, she attracts the attention of an derelict who enters the house, ignores her predicament and steals from her. He fences her belongings and brings his friend Sadie, a prostitute back with him to take more, but they are followed by a trio of psychopathic hoodlums lead by Randall Simpson O'Connell (Caan) who proceed to terrorize her beyond her wildest nightmares.

The bleak and hopeless tone of this film is a bit off-putting. The impression of humanity that it presents is one of complete and total selfishness and disregard for life, so it must be taken with a grain of salt. It's notable in that this is James Caan's first credited big screen role. Also in the film are Ann Southern and Scatman Crothers. This film is available on DVD, though is out of print. It can also be seen in full on YouTube, though the uploader has disabled embedding. Click this link to watch it.

Obscurity factor: 8 (on DVD, but largely forgotten)


  1. I had a Professor at University who taught a Theory of Film class. He showed this "most influential and tantalizing" movie 3 times during the course . One the 1st day - with no explanation, as the mid term ( to see how were progressing in terms of our ability to interpert "film" ) and on the last day - as a reward for having taken the class. Frankly, once was enough. ( I got a C )

  2. Sounds like your professor had a bit of a mini obsession with this one... I kind of agree, once is enough.

  3. ben, you are awesome! i just discovered your site and i am LOVING it. i appreciate the time you spend cranking these posts out and hope you will continue to do so!

    i could not find a way to email you so i hope this comment will reach you.

  4. I saw this movie in 1964 just before it was banned in the UK. It was a supporting film to a main feature called "Sixteen" - a Dutch film. As it was an afternoon matinee the cinema was attended by mostly old aged pensioners taking advantage of a special concession rate. They didn't know (or care) what they were going to see - but when the lights came on at the end of the movie most of them appeared to require trauma counselling. What a great movie.