Women-in-Prison Movies

Movies About Women in Prison

Ladies They Talk About, 1934
Barbara Stanwyck, the greatest Hollywood actress never to win a competitive Oscar, is a gun moll sent to prison, where she meets the usual bunch of broken dames and mannish women and spits out reams of tough-gal dialogue. ("Yeah," she barks at a prison rival, "and when they add you up, whadda you spell?") Directors Howard Bretherton and William Keighley get it all done in a wind-sprint 69 minutes, in one of the last of the pre-Code melodramas made before the industry had to clean up its act. The film's genesis would have made a pretty good movie too: it was based on a play co-written by Dorothy MacKaye, who'd done time in the women's unit of San Quentin as an accomplice to the murder of her husband Ray Raymond by Paul Kelly. (All three were Hollywood actors.) When she got out of prison, she married her husband's killer, then died in a car crash nine years later. Thus are the wages of stir.

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