Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, December 17, 2015


Jason Evers, Margaret Hayes, Andrew  Duggan, Jeanne Cooper
HOUSE OF WOMEN (1962). Director: Walter Doniger.

Obviously having had a very bad lawyer, Erica Hayden (Shirley Knight) winds up in a women's penitentiary even though she was unaware that her boyfriend was going to commit a robbery as she simply waited in the car. Now she's pregnant, and learns that she'll have to give the child up for adoption if she doesn't get paroled in a certain amount of time. Her fellow inmates include Sophie (Constance Ford), who has a little boy -- children are allowed to stay with their mothers in the prison! -- dizzy former stripper Candy (Barbara Nichols); Addie (Jennifer Howard), a stereotypical lesbian; among others, and the staff consists of new warden Frank Cole (Andrew Duggan); tippling Doctor Conrad (Jason Evers); administrator Zoe (Margaret Hayes); and stern guard Helen (Jeanne Cooper). Other characters include Mrs. Hunter (Virginia Gregg), who serves on the parole board; and Mrs. Stevens (Jacqueline Scott), who is a social worker. Complications develop when Cole falls in love with Erica and he cruelly takes revenge upon her, but the real breaking point comes when the stupid Mrs. Stevens takes away Erica's little girl to foster care a day early -- and just before the child's now-canceled birthday party no less! The situations are awfully contrived in this nonetheless entertaining movie that is basically an imitation of Caged. Duggan, Evers [The Brain that Wouldn't Die], Hayes, Gregg, and others are fine, but Knight [The Couch] underplays terribly; Ford is surprisingly perfunctory during some difficult sequences; and Nichols doesn't quite deliver the goods in her big scene when she makes a speech to the parole board. The movie does boast a suspenseful climax when Ford and the others take over the prison! Walter Doniger also directed The Steel Jungle.

Verdict: If nothing else it's fun -- with some good sequences. ***.

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