Sunday, July 3, 2016


Screen legend Olivia de Havilland.  All those years, from the 1930s through the 1940s, that she spent making hard work look easy onscreen under a Warner Brothers studio contract, and yet not a one of her five Oscar nominations came for a performance in a Warner Bros. release.  There's some Old Hollywood irony for you.  Three of her nominations and two of her Best Actress Oscar victories came for films released by Paramount Pictures.  The 4th of July psychological thriller, LADY IN A CAGE, is a 1964 Paramount release.  Olivia de Havilland plays the title character.  And she plays her quite well.
In this low-budget, highly watchable thriller, de Havilland stars as a gracious and wealthy writer in Los Angeles.  She's disabled and because of that, a private elevator has been installed in her upstairs/downstairs house.  Loved ones will be out of town for the 4th of July holiday.  She assures them she'll be just fine in the home alone on the holiday.                                 
Keep in mind this was in the 1960s.  There were rotary phones.  No cell phones with texting and camera capabilities existed.  That was something you'd see in a James Bond movie.  But there were home invasions.  Young thugs break into the disabled lady's house during a 4th of July power outage and threaten to harm her.
She gets stuck in her elevator out of reach of the telephone.

 The thug leader is played by a furry-chested, brawny young actor who'd done some roles on television.  LADY IN A CAGE provided the first speaking role in a Hollywood film for movie newcomer, James Caan.
One of his gang members is played by Rafael Campos.  This charismatic Latino actor gave a stand-out performance as a high school student in the 1955 classic BLACKBOARD JUNGLE starring Glenn Ford and Sidney Poitier.  Campos was married briefly to legendary jazz singer Dinah Washington.
Co-starring as low-life characters in this black and white movie are actress/singer Ann Sothern who, like Olivia de Havilland, began her Hollywood career in the 1930s, and character actor/acting coach Jeff Corey.  Corey coached singer Della Reese who went on to acting roles, most notably in the longtime hit CBS series TOUCHED BY AN ANGEL.
Paramount's cat-and-mouse drama gets really fun when the disabled mouse unleashes some fierce jungle cat survival instincts in her cage and matches wits with the hoods terrorizing her house.
Take my word for it.  LADY IN A CAGE works as some 4th of July movie entertainment.

Warner Brothers star, Olivia de Havilland got her first Oscar nomination in the Best Supporting Actress category for the MGM classic and box office champ, 1939's GONE WITH THE WIND.

She's the only star in the film who had a death scene.  This special month, she's the only surviving star of the film.  The actress was a Best Actress Oscar nominee for the mental health drama, THE SNAKE PIT. That was a 1948 film from 20th Century Fox.  Paramount's 1941 drama, HOLD BACK THE DAWN brought her the first of her Best Actress Oscar nominations.  Her two Oscar wins in that category came for Paramount's HOLD BACK THE DAWN (1946) and THE HEIRESS (1949).
Winning other honors and being photographed in her 90s, it was clearly obvious that the elegant actress who has lived in Paris for quite some time made 90-something look fantastic.

When I wrote "this special month," I meant it.  On July 1st, just a couple of days ago, Olivia de Havilland celebrated her 100th birthday.  Wow!  In honor of that and her extraordinary screen talent, she is the "Star of the Month" right now on TCM.  Turn on Turner Classic Movies every Friday starting at 8p Eastern for features starring Olivia de Havilland.

1 comment:

  1. My goodness, I was trying to think of the name of the movie (Lady in a Cage) just the other day. I watched it on one of those late-night horror movie things that used to come on in the 70s and 80s. I had no idea that Olivia de Havilland was in it.

    Thanks for posting this.


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