Cornelia Hilyard (Olivia de Havilland) is a wealthy widow left in her mansion alone when her effeminate adult son, Malcolm (William Swan) goes away for the extended 4th July weekend during a summer heatwave.
She becomes trapped ten feet above the ground in the cage-like home elevator she has been forced to use since an accident in which she broke her hip.
While she is helpless, her luxurious home is invaded by a drunken derelict (Jeff Corey) and a washed-up prostitute called Sade (Ann Sothern) who ignore her while looting the place.
They are followed by three young hoodlums, led by Randall Simpson O’Connell (James Caan in his first credited feature film role) who not only plan robbery but murder also.
Watching helplessly from the elevator, Cornelia sees the drunkard slaughtered and during the long hot summer day, she deteriorates physically and emotionally as she is taunted, terrorised, beaten and choked while a captive in her “cage”.
When the gang try to kill her, she gouges out Randall’s eyes and he is killed when he is mown down by a car.
Filmed in black and white, Lady in a Cage is a tense, claustrophobic, sadistic and scary urban tale – anticipating Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange (1971) – with outstanding and impressive performances from Olivia De Havilland and James Caan.
Although he had made an appearance in Irma la Douce (1963), this was Caan’s first credited feature film role after getting started with some television parts.
The film was banned in many British towns and given an “X” certificate in the London area. The movie was also banned in Australia until the 1970s.
Olivia de Havilland
Randall Simpson O’Connell
George L. Brady Jr.
Mr Paul’s Assistant