Girls in Prison
Genre: Crime, Exploitation
Director: Edward L. Cahn
Stars: Richard Denning, Joan Taylor, Adele Jergens
Anne Carson, meeting the seedy side of prison life, finds that everyone thinks she knows where un-recovered bank loot is.
top me if you’ve heard this before. A woman is involved in a bank robbery and goes to prison as she refuses to turn on the rest of her “gang.” People suspect she knows where the money is hidden and attempt to get this information from her. Sound familiar? That would be because this is the same plot as Ladies They Talk About and Lady Gangster. While it’s not based on the same source material – it’s the same set-up. The story unfolds a lot differently, though that may not be a good thing. Girls in Prison is not a crime drama like the other similarly storied titles – this is purely an exploitation film and not a very good one at that.
The film opens with a musical number that has absolutely NOTHING to do with the film. There’s a bunch of people at a club while some girl sings a song called “Tom’s Beat.” It’s actually because of the credits that come after this musical number that I know the song is called “Tom’s Beat,” because the entire time I thought she was singing about Tom’s Feet. Of course Tom’s Beat makes a lot more sense I mean, why the hell would some girl be singing about Tom’s feet in a women in prison movie? That makes about as much sense as having a musical number at the beginning of the film about Tom’s Beat that doesn’t have a damn thing to do with the movie! Why is this song here?! WHY? There’s no character named Tom in the film, none of these people in the club ever appear again in the movie, and the song is never repeated. Sorry if I seem a bit passionate in my anger over this scene, but if you’re going to make me sit through some mediocre musical number before the film starts there had better be a goddamn good reason for it!
As for the rest of the film? It’s just heaps of unoriginal garbage and redundant scene after redundant scene. There’s Anne Carson (Joan Fulton) as the oh-so-average “girl in trouble” while the prison chaplain, Rev. Fulton (Richard Denning) takes a special interest in her plight. This is the routine of the film: Anne cries to the reverend about how bad it is in prison, the other tough prisoners try to bully Anne into giving up the location of the bank robbery loot, Anne complains to the reverend, inmates bully Anne, etc. etc. There are a few scenes where one gangster is harassing Anne’s father into giving up the location of the money but it’s literally the SAME scene every time this part of the story is explored. This entire movie could have been reduced to just 4 scenes told over 15 minutes.
That is until the ridiculous ending. The story drags itself along with no resolution in sight until – suddenly – EARTHQUAKE. The prison collapses and the girls can escape to finish off the story. This kind of deus-ex-machina crap is LAZY writing. “Hmmm? I can’t figure out how to get to the conclusion of this story. Random earthquake!” Good storytelling involves building believable characters that work through their own situations – this does NOT mean having a random act of God solve their problems for them. After this earthquake bullshit I paid even less attention to the film. Anne manages to get to the money? Well good for her even though she shouldn’t because no half-decent writer would solve their plot with a FUCKING RANDOM EARTHQUAKE!
And that’s Girls in Prison, a completely average and dull film with one of the stupidest conclusions I’ve ever seen. Goddamn earthquake. The performances are lackluster and uninspired. Richard Denning tries way too hard to be like Spencer Tracy in Boys Town that the character comes off even lazier than the writer intended. I hated this stupid, boring and unoriginal movie. Thankfully this is the last generic studio era Women in Prison film I have ahead of me. That doesn’t mean any of the independently produced women in prison films ahead of me are any better, but at lease they have the chance to be a bit bolder in the genre than this piece of crap.