This is a film noir from 1950, directed by John Cromwell, but the real story is who wrote this and how.
This is another great noir written by Virginia Kellogg who also was on the writing team for White Heat and T-Men(both have been reviewed earlier on this site). This one is interesting because Kellogg actually pulled some strings to incarcerate herself in a woman’s prison to write a book. She then made this book into a screenplay for this film. Everything in the book is stuff that really happened while she was in prison, so I imagine most of this movie’s plot lines are actually based on fact, though the story is fictional.
Eleanor Parker plays our main protagonist who is put in prison for being involved in a gas station robbery with her husband. She is only 19 and her husband was killed in the robbery attempt, to top things off, she is pregnant! She is a pretty normal girl, somewhat innocent if you will. She probably shouldn’t be in prison for being an accomplice to an attempted robbery of only $40.
Agnes Moorhead plays the warden who is trying to make things better for the women. She is the bright spot in a dark situation.
Hope Emerson plays one hell of an evil guard in this film. She was Parker’s nemesis throughout the movie.
Parker meets an assortment of criminals while in stir. Most befriend her and she learns a lot about the criminal ways while doing her time. This quote sums it up:
“For that forty bucks I heisted I sure got myself an education.”
This really is a movie about the problems with our prison system, most, if not all these problems have not gone away in the 65 years since this film was made. If you are a fan of Orange Is the New Black you should check this film out to see how things have evolved very little in the past 6 decades. This film should be seen by everybody, noir fan or not. It is an amazing piece of cinema. Parker really does an outstanding job and you can see why she was nominated for an Academy Award for this performance.