The backroom of the London high street Valhalla Undertaking Company was filled with darkness. The walls and floor space taken up by stacks of wooden coffins. Stood in the bleak setting were a bunch of shifty looking cockney geezers. Gangsters. Rough looking thugs with thick necks, cauliflower ears and busted up flat noses. In amongst those brutish frames you had the usual crafty looking types. Weasel looking type. Sly and creepy. Ready to shank you in the back for a few bob or maybe just for the fun of it. You also had the loyal sidekicks in the mix. Eager to crack skulls with brass knuckle dusters. An older, mother figure organised as she kept an eye on the business. As long as a little extra came her way she was happy. Continue reading
Caught. Wedged on the back seat of a speeding car. Three men. Two handcuffed, one not. Maybe not enough cuffs to go around? He’s by the door. The door handle beacons. Should he make a run for it? He’s likely to be killed anyway, whatever he does. He’d chance it, go for it. No! the car is travelling too fast. At the traffic lights he’d make a break for freedom. The car speeds through. His hand taps the door handle. A tram is coming. Now’s his chance! Continue reading
“Hello can anybody hear me!?” These are the first words of an unnamed man, I’ll call him Cube Man (Richard Schaal). He’s woken up, maybe just appeared, inside a white cubed room. He repeats “Hello! Can anybody hear me?” Baffled. Cube Man tries to work out his bearings. It has to be a joke, right! An elaborate practical joke. It’s not funny. Starting to get panicked. Trapped. “Is there anybody there?” Continue reading
Could this be the only film centred around the life of the female penitentiary system to get nominated for the Academy Awards? This 1950’s film, Caged, showing the cutthroat everyday life of a women’s prison managed to have three stabs at the Oscar. Best Actress in a Leading Role Eleanor Parker beaten by Judy Holliday in Born Yesterday. Best Actress in a Supporting Role Hope Emerson beaten by Josephine Hull in Harvey. Best Writing, Story and Screenplay Virginia Kellogg & Bernard C Schoenfeld beaten by Charles Brackett, Billy Wilder, and D M Marshman Jr with Sunset Boulevard. Now with that said there was some tough competition in those nominee categories and truth be told Caged isn’t as good as them but it sure is blooming fantastic.
Tagline – Will she come out a woman or a wildcat?
As teenage boys, these gritty prison dramas and brutal tales of youths fighting the system and getting banged up were all the rage in our VHS rental days! The grand daddy of these was the notorious savage borstal prison TV play and later, film Scum which starred Ray Winstone. A few other titles around the time were Made In Britain, McVicar and even the girls had a go in Scrubbers. Yeah we really were way too young to watch these films but I guess in a strange way that rather than make us into raging psychotic hoodlums, I think they put a terrifying fear into you that there’s no way you going to end up in the clink. Continue reading
Tough driving rain smashes against the brick fortress of the Westgate Penitentiary prison walls. If the place wasn’t dark enough as it was, the bleak cold rain just added more dreary dread to the inmates banged up inside. Six guys per cell room, squeezed in like sardines, so close together you just had to be friends. Luckily the six in cellroom R17 are tight together, a band of brothers watching out for each other. Continue reading