Lady in a Cage (1964)

93 mins | Melodrama | 10 June 1964

Director:

Walter Grauman

Writer:

Luther Davis

Producer:

Luther Davis

Cinematographer:

Lee Garmes

Editor:

Leon Barsha

Production Designer:

Rudolph Sternad

Production Company:

American Entertainment Corp.
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HISTORY

Referring to the title as Lady in the Cage, a 17 May 1962 DV item reported that Muriel Landers would star opposite Joan Crawford in a new motion picture for director Ralph Nelson. The 16 Aug 1962 LAT added Robert Webber and Elizabeth Montgomery to the cast, and claimed that Nelson would also share producing duties with screenwriter Luther Davis. Although Lady in a Cage was already set for United Artists (UA) release, the 8 Jun 1962 DV stated Crawford would first film What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962, see entry) for Warner Bros.
       Around that time, however, the 14 Sep 1962 DV announced Nelson’s decision to postpone Lady in a Cage until he completed work on another UA project, Lilies of the Field (1963, see entry). During this brief hiatus, Crawford left the production, as the 3 Dec 1962 LAT stated that the leading role had been offered to Rosalind Russell before it was accepted by Olivia de Havilland. Crawford instead reunited with What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? co-star Bette Davis and director Robert Aldrich for Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964, see entry). Ironically, she also dropped out of that role during filming, and was replaced once again by Olivia de Havilland.
       By early the following year, the 17 Jan 1963 DV noted that television director Walter Grauman had assumed Nelson’s position, marking his theatrical motion picture debut. Now serving as sole producer, Davis approached Ann Sothern to play the prostitute, “Sade,” which many contemporary sources indicated was a decision to ... More Less

Referring to the title as Lady in the Cage, a 17 May 1962 DV item reported that Muriel Landers would star opposite Joan Crawford in a new motion picture for director Ralph Nelson. The 16 Aug 1962 LAT added Robert Webber and Elizabeth Montgomery to the cast, and claimed that Nelson would also share producing duties with screenwriter Luther Davis. Although Lady in a Cage was already set for United Artists (UA) release, the 8 Jun 1962 DV stated Crawford would first film What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962, see entry) for Warner Bros.
       Around that time, however, the 14 Sep 1962 DV announced Nelson’s decision to postpone Lady in a Cage until he completed work on another UA project, Lilies of the Field (1963, see entry). During this brief hiatus, Crawford left the production, as the 3 Dec 1962 LAT stated that the leading role had been offered to Rosalind Russell before it was accepted by Olivia de Havilland. Crawford instead reunited with What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? co-star Bette Davis and director Robert Aldrich for Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964, see entry). Ironically, she also dropped out of that role during filming, and was replaced once again by Olivia de Havilland.
       By early the following year, the 17 Jan 1963 DV noted that television director Walter Grauman had assumed Nelson’s position, marking his theatrical motion picture debut. Now serving as sole producer, Davis approached Ann Sothern to play the prostitute, “Sade,” which many contemporary sources indicated was a decision to cast strongly against type. A 28 Jan 1963 DV item stated Joan Connors was also tested for a role.
       Shortly before the scheduled start of production, a 14 Feb 1963 DV news story announced that Paramount Pictures had taken over distributing duties from the independent company, Continental Distributing, Inc. The budget was set at $500,000, with de Havilland and Grauman participating in a share of the profits.
       According to a 6 Mar 1963 Var production chart, principal photography began on 18 Feb 1963. Interiors were shot on the Paramount studio backlot in Hollywood, CA, while a 15 May 1963 DV item revealed that a house in the Westlake Park neighborhood of Los Angeles doubled as the exterior of “Mrs. Hilyard’s” mansion. A 1 Mar 1963 NYT article noted that two elevator stalls were built on the set: one that rested nine feet above ground level, and another on the floor, which allowed for horizontal camera angles and close-ups. Grauman told the 21 Feb 1963 LAT that he expected a total shooting schedule of seventeen days, and the 25 Mar 1963 edition confirmed that de Havilland had finished filming her role in just fourteen.
       Prior to release, the 22 Apr 1964 Var announced that a paperback novelization of the screenplay would be published by Popular Library.
       According to a 13 May 1964 Var schedule, Lady in a Cage was scheduled to open 29 May 1964 at the Roosevelt Theatre in Chicago, IL. The 27 May 1964 Var and 11 Jun 1964 NYT review indicated that the New York City engagement began 10 Jun 1964 at twenty-two area theaters. Citywide screenings began in Los Angeles two months later, on 12 Aug 1964. The 27 Jan 1965 Var reported North American distributors’ grosses of $1,850,000 to date.
       An 11 Mar 1964 Var article detailed how Lady in a Cage was part of a hew horror subgenre of “shock” pictures featuring older female stars that was inspired by the success of What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? The picture raised considerable controversy for its exploitation of graphic violence, which the 15 Apr 1964 DV reported, “drew multiple objections” from Production Code chief Geoffrey Shurlock. In a piece for the 21 Jun 1964 NYT, critic Bosley Crowther called it “reprehensible” for projecting “sadism and violence for violence’s sake.” Although invited to participate in the San Sebastian Film Festival in Spain, the film was prohibited from receiving a general release there, as indicated in the 17 Jun 1964 DV and 27 Jan 1965 Var. U.K. censors also initiated a ban, as a 10 Nov 1965 Var article stated that the picture’s inclusion in that year’s London Film Festival marked its first public screening in the country.
       Lady in a Cage was the first credited feature film role of actor James Caan. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
17 May 1962
p. 2.
Daily Variety
8 Jun 1962
p. 9.
Daily Variety
14 Sep 1962
p. 9.
Daily Variety
21 Dec 1962
p. 2.
Daily Variety
17 Jan 1963
p. 2.
Daily Variety
28 Jan 1963
p. 4.
Daily Variety
8 Feb 1963
p. 6.
Daily Variety
14 Feb 1963
p. 1, 4.
Daily Variety
15 Mar 1963
p. 3.
Daily Variety
15 Apr 1964
p. 3.
Daily Variety
17 Jun 1964
p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
16 Aug 1962
Section C, p. 9.
Los Angeles Times
3 Dec 1962
Section D, p. 18.
Los Angeles Times
15 Feb 1963
Section D, p. 11.
Los Angeles Times
21 Feb 1963
Section C, p. 8.
Los Angeles Times
25 Mar 1963
Section C, p. 10.
Los Angeles Times
6 Aug 1964
Section C, p. 9.
Los Angeles Times
12 Aug 1964
Section D, p. 9.
New York Times
4 Dec 1962
p. 47.
New York Times
1 Mar 1963
p. 10.
New York Times
11 Jun 1964
p. 27.
New York Times
21 Jun 1964
Section X, p. 1.
Variety
6 Mar 1963
p. 16.
Variety
11 Mar 1964
p. 18.
Variety
22 Apr 1964
p. 98.
Variety
13 May 1964
p. 70.
Variety
27 May 1964
p. 19.
Variety
27 Jan 1965
p. 18.
Variety
10 Nov 1965
p. 14.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Luther Davis Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Asst cam
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
COSTUMES
MUSIC
Mus comp & cond
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec photog eff
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hairstyles
DETAILS
Release Date:
10 June 1964
Premiere Information:
Chicago opening: 29 May 1964
New York opening: 10 June 1964
Los Angeles opening: 12 August 1964
Production Date:
began 18 February 1963
Copyright Claimant:
American Entertainment Corp.
Copyright Date:
31 December 1963
Copyright Number:
LP28525
Duration(in mins):
93
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

Mrs. Hilyard, a wealthy widow recuperating from a broken hip, becomes trapped between floors in the cage-like elevator she has installed in her mansion. With her son Malcolm away for a summer weekend, she relies on an emergency alarm to attract attention, but the only response comes from an alcoholic derelict who ignores her pleas and steals some small items. The wino sells them to a fence, then visits his prostitute friend, Sade, attracting the attention of three young hoodlums, Randall, Elaine, and Bessie. The trio follows them back to the mansion, where they conduct an orgy, killing the wino and locking Sade in a closet. Randall then pulls himself up to the elevator and taunts Mrs. Hilyard with a note left by Malcolm threatening suicide because of her domineering manner. Shocked by the revelation, Mrs. Hilyard struggles with Randall, gouges out his eyes, and escapes to the street. The blinded assailant follows her and is run over by a passing automobile, whereupon police arrive to arrest the surviving intruders and comfort the ... +


Mrs. Hilyard, a wealthy widow recuperating from a broken hip, becomes trapped between floors in the cage-like elevator she has installed in her mansion. With her son Malcolm away for a summer weekend, she relies on an emergency alarm to attract attention, but the only response comes from an alcoholic derelict who ignores her pleas and steals some small items. The wino sells them to a fence, then visits his prostitute friend, Sade, attracting the attention of three young hoodlums, Randall, Elaine, and Bessie. The trio follows them back to the mansion, where they conduct an orgy, killing the wino and locking Sade in a closet. Randall then pulls himself up to the elevator and taunts Mrs. Hilyard with a note left by Malcolm threatening suicide because of her domineering manner. Shocked by the revelation, Mrs. Hilyard struggles with Randall, gouges out his eyes, and escapes to the street. The blinded assailant follows her and is run over by a passing automobile, whereupon police arrive to arrest the surviving intruders and comfort the victim. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.