review for Lady in a Cage on AllMovie

Lady in a Cage (1964)
by Donald Guarisco review

This mid-'60s entry into the suspense genre remains a potent and surprisingly nasty little piece of work. Some aspects of Luther Davis's screenplay have aged poorly (particularly the intermittent bits of internal narration for Olivia De Havilland's character) but he gets his message about the cost of being indifferent to your fellow man across with grim efficiency. Better yet, Lady in a Cage puts the screws to the audience when it focuses on the main character's plight: virtually the entire last half of the film is edge-of-the-seat material. Director Walter Grauman plays up the grotesque edge of the material, capturing the action with gritty, harsh black-and-white cinematography and getting a series of feverish, over-the-top performances from a well-chosen cast. De Havilland is quite sympathetic as the tormented heroine, aiding the film's claustrophobic feel by making us feel every bit of her pain. Ann Sothern and Jeff Corey supply memorably hammy support work, but it's the young James Caan who steals the show, creating a perfect portrait of soulless, sociopathic evil as the angry leader of the teen thugs. It all adds up to one potent gut-punch of a movie. Lady in a Cage may be too nasty and outlandish for some tastes but fans of vintage suspense will enjoy getting a shock from this suspense workout.