For Reel


Women’s Prison (1955)
February 23, 2012, 2:09 am
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Lewis Seiler

Ida Lupino, an accomplished veteran in front of the camera, would direct a number of low-budget independent features during the early 1950s, making her the sole female director working in Hollywood at the time. Struggling to find financiers for her projects in the mid-fifties, she had to take on acting jobs in pictures like Women’s Prison in order to keep busy. While the film may not serve as much more than junk food, Lupino brings her typical ferocity to the material, which she always accompanied with a slight underlying tone of sadness. Directed by Lewis Seiler, Women’s Prison is the brassy sort of programmer that moves nimbly and captivates if only because of its cast. Alongside Lupino, who revels in her role as the sadistic warden of the titular setting, are, among others, a pair of recognizable platinum blondes: Jan Sterling, remembered for The High and the Mighty and Ace in the Hole, and Cleo Moore, Columbia’s answer to Marilyn Monroe. Sterling, as the wizened inmate who takes a newcomer played by Phyllis Thaxter under her wing, is a charming, intelligent presence who supplies the film with its heart. It is in the writing that the picture suffers, however – the pacing is awkward, and Thaxter’s character appears to have been intended to play a much bigger part before being cut almost entirely.


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