Syllabus: Film 1950

10.3.2007

By Nathan Lee

'The pure examples of Camp are unintentional; they are dead serious,' wrote Susan Sontag. By that criterion, the 1950 melodrama Caged more than qualifies for inclusion in Warner Home Video's recent boxed set of Cult Camp Classics (even if it pales in comparison to such company as the magnificent Joan Crawford fiasco Trog.) For a 'women in prison' flick, this one's awfully somber'or at least as somber as a movie can be when it opens by dumping a paddy wagon full of bad girls at the priosn gate with a verbal kick in the tush: 'Pile out, you tramps! It's the end of the line!' Oh, but it's just the beginning for Marie Allen (Eleanor Parker, Oscar-nominated for the part), a pregnant 19-year-old tossed in the slammer for abetting her man in a theft gone wrong. Thick with injustice and crypto-lesbians (Agnes Moorehead, Hope Emerson), Caged casts a steely black-and-white eye on Marie's transformation from supertraumatized na'f to demoralized jailbird. Essential pulp fiction for every drag queen/butch dyke slumber party.

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