Chained for Life (1951)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Melodrama  |   Run Time - 81 min.  |   Countries - USA  |  
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The conjoined twins Violet Hilton and Daisy Hilton, also seen in Tod Browning's classic Freaks and the smarmy Slash of the Knife, star in this interesting melodrama about love, betrayal, and murder. They play Vivian and Dotty Hamilton, joined-at-the-spine singers in a vaudeville show managed by the unscrupulous Ted Hinckley (Allen Jenkins). Hinckley pays a sharpshooter named Andre Pariseau 100 dollars a week to date Dotty as a publicity stunt. When the pair are married, Dotty's desire to be surgically separated from her sister leads the panicked Violet to shoot Pariseau dead, and she stands trial (with Dotty, naturally) for murder. Despite the exploitative ad campaign, this is a well-done melodrama presenting a realistic (?) situation in an engaging way. Viewers may still get the feeling that they might go to Hell for watching it, but at least it avoids the sleazy implications of Slash of the Knife. The British-born Hilton sisters were exploited in real life from a very early age, with their mother pimping them to various carnival freak shows around Britain and the U.S. Aside from their film and nightclub work, they were best known for an actual trial in which they were named as "the other women" in a divorce case. Their Pittsburgh hotel went belly-up in the 1950s and they ran a fruit-stand in Florida until they died in 1964 at the ages of 56.

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Keywords

Siamese-twins, exploitation, freak-show, publicity-stunt, singer, sister, surgery, vaudeville