DVD Review HTF REVIEW: Lady in a Cage

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Scott Kimball, Mar 28, 2005.

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  1. Scott Kimball

    Scott Kimball Screenwriter

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    [​IMG]
    Lady in a Cage



    Studio: Paramount

    Year: 1964, B&W

    Rated: NR

    Length: 94 Minutes

    Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

    Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1, 2.0 (mono)

    English Subtitles

    Closed Captioned

    Special Features: None

    S.R.P.: $14.99, USD


    Release Date: March 29, 2005

    Lady in a Cage is an early 60’s example of an exploitation flick. Shocking for its time, the film is disturbingly sadistic with moments of gore. Most notable, however, is the hamfisted performances from virtually all involved.

    Olivia de Haviland plays Mrs. Hilyard, a woman recovering from a disabling hip injury. Well-to-do, she has had a personal elevator installed in her upscale home. She smothers her adult son with love, and he can’t stand her for it - though he’s too afraid of her to tell her.

    Alone for a long weekend, Mrs. Hilyard becomes stuck in her elevator during a power outage, suspended a dozen feet above the floor. A passing drunk hears her alarm ringing and goes to investigate. Seeing her trapped in the elevator, he takes advantage of the situation. Instead of assisting Mrs. Hilyard, he steals liquor from the residence.

    The sadistic Randall (James Caan, in his first credited film role) hears of the woman’s plight, and takes his accomplices to rob the home while the helpless Hilyard can only watch. Then, things turn ugly, with threats and violence and more - such as a whole sublot that unravels around Hilyard’s unhealthy relationship with her son.

    Caan is the only one who is watchable in this film. De Haviland turns in a sub par, over the top performance, under poor direction from Walter Grauman. De Haviland fans would be better served watching her other film of that year, Hush Huh, Sweet Charlotte.

    The film also features Ann Southern, Jennifer Billingsley, Jeff Corey and William Swan.

    Lady in a Cage is from the “so bad it’s almost good” file. Decidedly not for all tastes, the film does have a bit of a cult following. Personally, I find it’s an unpleasant film, and not one that I would revisit.

    The Transfer

    The picture is presented in an anamorphically enhanced 1.85:1 aspect ratio.

    While the black levels are reasonably strong and consistent, the picture comes across with above average brightness. Highlights are usually okay, but the picture seems unnaturally bright, overall - even in scenes where the power is supposed to be out. I have no idea what the theatrical experience for the film was like, but the lighting is so flat that I suspect the experience on DVD is pretty much as photographed.

    The picture enjoys good sharpness, with a hint of ringing visible on occasion. The print is relatively clean of damage, displaying a mild amount of scratches and debris throughout.

    The DVD includes the original mono soundtrack, and a remixed 5.1 track, as well. The remix is quite well done, opening up the eclectic score and providing subtle directional cues when warranted. It works well for the traffic scenes and other outdoor effects, while remaining minimalistic in terms of directionality in the more subdued indoor scenes, and with dialog.

    The monaural track is clean. Frequency response is good, dialog is consistently clean, clear and intelligible.

    A slight background hiss can be heard on either track, but it isn’t at all distracting.

    Final Thoughts
    I wouldn’t recommend this film for general audiences, but if my description appeals to you, this disc is priced right. You’ll likely find it for around $10 at retail. The transfer is good, but there are no extras.
     
  2. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    I guess different strokes for different folks. I agree it's not a film you will want to see again and again, but I don't agree with your other criticisms.






    Crawdaddy
     
  3. Jay E

    Jay E Cinematographer

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    One of my favorite films from the early 60's. I'll never forget seeing this for the first time as a child back in the 1970's, it was very shocking, especially the ending. It still holds up for me today (unlike some other childhood faves). Brutal exploitation of the highest order!
     
  4. TravisR

    TravisR Studio Mogul

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    I've already got my copy on order[​IMG]

    It's been years since I've seen it though.
     
  5. Gordon McMurphy

    Gordon McMurphy Producer

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    I have never seen this film, though it sounds intriguing. However, when it comes to exploitation films, there has to be a facet to the film that elevates it out of the sludge. What are the positive aspects of Lady in a Cage.

    The film sounds similar to Larry Cohen's, Bone (1972), which I love. Yaphet Kotto is very intimidating, yet humourous.
     
  6. ArthurMy

    ArthurMy Supporting Actor

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    I must say I find it to be a completely inept film on just about every level, save for Ann Southern. Horribly directed, and IMO, a completely stupid and inane script on every level. I especially enjoyed the residential street outside the house, with more traffic than you'd see at rush hour on any freeway in the nation - it doesn't help that it's the same cars and the same people driving them over and over and over - apparently they only drive on that street - all day long.

    I found the transfer pretty decent. Opticals are, of course, very grainy, as they were and should be. I only listened to the mono, which was fine. I'll have to give the stereo a try.
     
  7. David Von Pein

    David Von Pein Producer

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    [​IMG]

    Were they all driving Chevrolet Impalas and Chevelles too (like on "Bewitched" every week)? (Of course, being sponsored by Chevy meant it's all they were allowed to drive in Samantha's neighborhood. A Chrysler was off-limits.) [​IMG]
     
  8. Steve K.H.

    Steve K.H. Supporting Actor

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    Sounds like Misery - predictable and silly.
     
  9. RyanZ

    RyanZ Stunt Coordinator

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    Another Paramount barebones - another lost sale.
     
  10. ArthurMy

    ArthurMy Supporting Actor

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    "Another Paramount barebones - another lost sale"

    For ten bucks, if you like and/or love the film, why would it be another lost sale. I find that attitude fairly silly, IMO. It should have been a lost sale for me because the film, IMO, stinks. But not because it's barebones. The upcoming Li'l Abner and Islands in the Stream are barebones, and wild horses could not keep me away from them, even if they cost more, which they don't. I already have Islands and it's a lovely transfer of a very underrated film and I couldn't be happier to have it.
     
  11. Scott Kimball

    Scott Kimball Screenwriter

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    "Islands in the Stream" is already out. I had hoped to have a review up by Tuesday's street date, but events have conspired against me. Look for a review over the weekend.

    -Scott
     
  12. ArthurMy

    ArthurMy Supporting Actor

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    Looking forward to your thoughts, Scott. I've always had a soft spot for the film, which I saw at a sneak preview several weeks before it opened. The Jerry Goldsmith score alone makes the DVD worth a purchase.
     
  13. RyanZ

    RyanZ Stunt Coordinator

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    Well you are all certianly right that the film stinks, so I certainly won't be purchasing it. However, how much trouble is it for them to splap a trailer on a release?
     
  14. Jefferson

    Jefferson Supporting Actor

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    This movie scared the CRAP outta me when i saw it on tv when i was little.
    We watched it because my mom went to high school with Jennifer Billingsley who plays the sidekick of the teen thugs.
     
  15. JohnMor

    JohnMor Producer

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    Okay, now I GOTTA check out this movie. I stand warned, and I'll take full responsibilty but my curiosity has been peaked. And I also agree with those that a bare-bones disc can be worthwhile. I like extras as much as the next guy, but I'll happily take a movie-only dvd if the transfer is good. Especially at the Paramount price.
     
  16. Jay E

    Jay E Cinematographer

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    Another film that is similar to "Lady in a Cage" is The Incident which is about 2 thugs terrorizing passengers on a New York Subway train. It came out in 1967 and was Martin Sheen's first film (he's one of the thugs).

    Regrettably Fox hasn't released this on DVD yet. I really want to own this as it's a very enjoyable & intense film (although a bit dated)...and I can add to my Ed McMahon dvd collection![​IMG]
     
  17. JeffMc

    JeffMc Supporting Actor

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    I would love to see THE INCIDENT as well, although I don't think it really resembles LIAC at all except that it features thugs. To me, LIAC is a pretty hokey simplistic 'thriller' with histrionic acting that simply doesn't work, although I still enjoy it for what it is. Never believed a minute of it, though.

    THE INCIDENT is rough, raw and gritty (especially for the time) and features believable characters and some harsh racial and gay slurs which may be keeping it in the vaults for a long time to come. It was released on VHS via CBS-FOX Video back in the day and is definitely worth tracking down.
     
  18. Jay E

    Jay E Cinematographer

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    Although Lady in a Cage is more exploitive, the main plotline for both is very similar, one has thugs terrorizing a lady trapped in her elevator & the other has thugs terrorizing people who are trapped on a train.

    I enjoy both films, but I agree The Incident has more depth & believable characters. Fox did release it on Laser so a DVD may not be that improbable.
     

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