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A Past Look At A Scary Future.
on July 8, 2002
Walter Grauman directs star Olivia DeHavilland, as a woman who is trapped in her own home, when the power is cut on her electric elevator. She is recovering from a hip injury, and cannot reach out for help beyond screaming, and ringing an alarm hooked up the the elevator.
The story is in black and white, and this adds to the mood, like in Alfred Hitchcocks "Psycho". Sure, they could've used color for this 1964 film, but you'll see for yourself why the lack of color, matches the noir and bizarre mood here.
DeHavilland is over-dramatic, but superb too, as the "Lady" of the title, her facial expressions are so fitting of her consuming exasperation at the frustrating situation. You can feel the sweat as she swelters in the summer heat, trapped helplessly. DeHavilland also has her son Malcomb, from whom she ponders a letter while trapped. She finds out that sonny boy, whom she idolizes with a devout reverence, hates her. She agonizes over his plea "Release me from your love", leading to the great exclamation "I AM a MONSTER!"Wait, it gets even better.
As DeHavilland rings her alarm relentlessly, hoping someone will save her, she attracts the attention of an old pathetic semi-mute wino, wandering around the neighborhood. He comes into the house, ignores DeHavillands' pleas, and steals her wine cellar contents instead. He leaves, and comes back with a shady lady played by Ann Southern, who further ransacks the house. DeHavilland can't believe what's happening. That's just the start.
The nerve jangling intensity increases, upon the arrival of three beatnik punks, one geeky weirdo clownish guy, a positively filthy looking girl, and her abusive group leader boyfriend, an early role for a then 26 year old future star, James Caan. When this trio of trouble enters, the real show begins, as they let Southern and the wino know, they're in charge. All sorts of games begin, especially wild, is the psycho-sexual headgames an insidious Caan inflicts upon DeHavilland, as he enters the "cage" and starts in on her son, and the kind of mother he speculates she is. Caan is slimy, sinister and completely lacking in moral compunction, as are his two cohorts. You will watch this with a very uneasy feeling and you will be left with that feeling after viewing this as well. For a movie that was released in 1964, it is even shocking by TODAY'S standards. Way ahead of it's genre in that era, it stands up to the test of time quite well as a high quality, unique suspense thriller.
"Lady In A Cage" is a sad social commentary about isolation, cruelty, and dysfunctional sociopaths that is so far ahead of it's time, it must be seen, to be believed. The graphically gory and shocking ending, only adds to the surreal nightmarish feel of what has led up to the culmination of all the gruesome events of a horrid day. This is a definite must for anyone who wants to see a film unlike any other, and a truly shocking one in it's time, and today.