By and large, the Women In Prison flick is thought of today as a camp genre. Naked broads wrestling in the shower, vindictive lesbian guards abusing virginal newbies, and so forth--the cliches abound. What this obscures, though, is that some really fascinating work has been done in this genre over the years.
John Cromwell's 1950 CAGED is a good case in point. This isn't just the best WIP flick ever made, it's one of the finest film noirs produced in the classic era. It features smart direction, strikingly beautiful cinematography, snappy writing and a host of terrific performances. It is a masterpiece. Alan K. Rode made this point in the pages of Noir City a few years ago, and Oren Shai argued the point over at Bright Lights Film Journal.
And yet this brilliant film is available today only as part of a "camp classics" set. Don't let the packaging fool you. This is a great film.
For my full review check out my essay over at Criminal Element.