The first thing that makes this film so unique is that is does not need to rely on heavy amounts of gore to thrill the viewer (although there is some). Olivia de Havilland shines as the film's damsel in distress when she is trapped in her in-home elevator after a power cut. After raising the alarm, she is soon visited by an old tramp, an alcoholic prostitute and a deadly gang, lead by James Caan in his first major film role. Caan gives an electrifying performance as does Ann Sothern as the boozy Sade. Overall, Lady In A Cage is a film that all modern horror films take note of. You will not be dissapointed!
I saw this first in the 60s and it has lost none of its rising suspense, nor does it indicate a lead up to the unexpected climax, shocking at the time if long overtaken these days by over-explicit scenes. In comparison to far too many of today's films, it has totally believable acting, a well-written script, NO UNNECESSARY FOUL LANGUAGE, without which today's scriptwriters seem to be illiterate, and nothing overdone. It verges on being a horror film through suggestion without relying on gory scenes to make up for a poor script and acting. Well-rounded, individual characters only add to this film's excellence. It shows that constant violence, killings and explosions are not prerequisite to making an entertaining, thrilling, exciting, absorbing or edge-of-the-seat suspenseful movie. How many of today's so-called stars or box office hits will be remembered in 20, 30, 50 years' time?
Luther Davis wrote and produced this dark, doom-laden 1964 movie. For me it works on two levels. In many ways it resembles a Hitchcock suspense movie. Will the wealthy widow, trapped in a stalled elevator in her home during a long weekend, survive the confinement and the violence and threats she receives from drunks, thugs and hoodlums that invade her home. Watch Olivia de Havilland's face in the final fade out, however, and you'll realize that these events represent a woman being forced to re-evaluate her life.
Previously the focus of her life had been the adored, pampered, 30 year old son who lived with her. During her caged ordeal she learns that her son wants to leave home, taking half the contents of the safe. If his wishes are not met, he will shoot himself.
Hitherto, the woman had been living in a kind of enclosed world, unchanging, suspended between two levels of reality. Now, however, miraculously freed from it, is the world outside the "cage" a better one? Her home is trashed, she has been beaten up by a thug, and her son is threatening suicide.
Psycho certainly has a lot to answer for...immediately following that film we had a lot of dark films including Whatever Happened to Baby Jane, Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte and this one. The problem is though, whilst Psycho was a cinematic masterpiece, Baby Jane and Sweet Charlotte had great storys/direction, dark humour and camp appeal...this film is totally lacking in any style. Theres no dark humour, the story is far fetched, the characters unlikable and unbelieveable and its just nasty for the sake of it with scenes of a dead dog, eye stabbings, a hobo being stabbed to death and a head crushed by a car all done in rather a graphic style simply to up the shock element. Its simply not enjoyable and why De Havilland agreed to appear in a film in which she spent most of it stuck in a lift, let alone one with such a terrible script is beyond me...its totally beneath her.
The director should hang his head in shame, the opening credits are done in such a manner to suggest he was a Hitchcock fan and was trying to emulate his work, the result though was just a nasty little film that few will enjoy.