Eleanor Parker in Caged (dir. John Cromwell, 1950).

Don't be put off by the lurid stigma of the "women in prison" genre: this is a superbly crafted, unsettling drama, nearly in the same class with films like Brute Force and A Man Escaped. Eleanor Parker plays a young woman convicted as an accessory to a robbery in which her husband, the main perpetrator, was shot and killed by the police. She enters prison scared and naive, and must gradually adjust her entire ethical world view in order not just to survive, but to retain whatever personal power she has left. Agnes Moorehead is a sympathetic but impotent warden, and Hope Emerson is a loathsomely evil "matron" (guard). Jan Sterling, from Mystery Street, instills her character "Smoochie" with a level of dyke chic I would wager the screen had not thitherto seen.

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