Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Directed by John Cromwell
Starring: Eleanor Parker, Hope Emerson, Agnes Moorehead
Courtesy of Goatdog (thanks, Mike) I was able to catch this great film about the many failures of the prison system. I mainly wanted to see this for Eleanor Parker's oscar-nominated performance, which I was unable to judge when I rounded up Oscar's 1950 Leading Ladies more than a few moons ago. After seeing it I'd probably place her a respectable fourth, given the incredible quality of the line-up, and she weighs up at about as good as Caged itself.
In this type of film it's all too easy to iconise your title star as a person above all the others. While that may be true in terms of intelligence and beauty, Lane is not your typical heroine, and rather than scrap like your hapless female victim, it's much easier to accept that she isn't a victim at all, and someone you're probably never going to understand. In the end, Levine, who often channels the stylistic prowess of Gus Van Sant and Quentin Tarantino in the film (a curious mix, I know) creates an exciting and -- particular in its final moments -- successful re-work of the slasher. Like the classic Scream films Lane revels in its knowledge of the genre and knowing that it ultimately has something different to offer, but instead of helping us feel sorry for the objectified Mandy Lane, makes us feel like all the boys do. Powerless.