The working-class twin sister of a callous, wealthy woman impulsively murders her out of revenge and assumes her identity. But impersonating her dead twin is more complicated and risky than she anticipated.
Police officer Patty Butler, alias "Chicklet," is the live-in girlfriend of Thomas 'Stick' Henderson to gather evidence. Detective Bo Lockley is instructed to try to find her, not knowing she's also a cop.
The lady is Mrs. Hilyard, a wealthy poetess who lives in a three-story city mansion and her cage is her elevator, which stops a dozen feet short of the main floor due to an electrical failure on a July 4th weekend. She rings her outside alarm, eventually noticed by a drunken derelict, who breaks into the house, ignores her plight and helps himself to various items and alcohol. He leaves with his loot but returns a while later with a curvy prostitute and three teenage hoodlums, who proceed to terrorize Mrs. Hilyard as they wreck her home.Written by
Sharply observed details elevate this lurid shocker.
"Lady In A Cage" was far ahead of its time. Compared to the rest of the lurid shockers produced in the early 1960s featuring aging Hollywood stars (including de Havilland's other 1964 appearance in "Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte") this film, along with "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?" transcended the genre. But while "Baby Jane" had a lot to say about the price of fame, "Lady In A Cage" rightly predicted the impending chaos of a rapidly changing society.
Nothing about the basic premise (a middle-aged woman trapped in her house is terrorized by vagrants and thugs) suggests a deep sociological study. What elevates the ensuing events are the sharply observed details: the neighborhood in transition, the alienated masses isolated by endless traffic, the hoodlums' utter lack of conscience, and most of all, de Havilland's expert performance as the lone representative of the civilized world. Her undoing serves as a cautionary tale for a society on the brink. de Havilland makes this otherwise unsavory film exceedingly watchable. As her secrets are uncovered, she finds herself culpable as well. Everyone is caught in the inexorable downward spiral.
Despite the heavy themes, the film is highly accessible, even fun, if you take a jaundiced view. Not quite as campy as "Baby Jane" perhaps, but on some level, just as iconic. It's a film that stands up well to repeated viewings. Great graphic title sequence, modern music, sharp- focus black and white photography. Overall, fine work by everyone involved.
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