Cinema: The New Pictures, Jun. 19, 1950

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Caged (Warner) uses the sob-and-slap technique to tell the story of a pregnant 19-year-old girl (Eleanor Parker) who is sentenced to state prison because of her part (innocent, of course) in a gas station holdup. Entering her cell block with the diffidence of a rabbit stepping into a jungle, she has trouble adjusting to the hysterics, hair-pulling and suicide that are rampant among her fellow inmates. Like other movie prisons, this one is run by a "good" warden (Agnes Moorehead), who is hamstrung by politicians, and a "bad" matron, who eats caramels and reads love stories while her charges suffer. Unable to keep her newborn baby, rebuffed by her mother (brilliantly played as a well-intentioned featherbrain by Phoebe Brand), refused a parole, and finally deprived of a foundling kitten she has adopted, Eleanor changes from a bewildered innocent into an embittered malcontent.

Scripted by Virginia Kellogg and Bernard Schoenfeld, Caged has a tendency to spell out all emotions—especially sentiment—in large, block capital letters. But John Cromwell's direction has some unblinkingly realistic moments, and Caged ends on a stringent and unexpected note: paroled at last, Eleanor joins up with a vice ring and the hard-bitten warden gloomily reserves a cell for her early return.

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