Eleanor Parker received her first Oscar nomination for playing Marie Allen, a wrongfully arrested woman in jail, in Caged.
I love Caged, it's the ultimate women in prison movie, and alot of this has to do with Eleanor Parker. She has such a pure and innocent look to her, that really contrasts the darkness of the prison life.
She plays 19 year old Marie Allen. Her husband was killed during robbery, for which she was present, therefore she is an accessory, and in my opinion, wrongfully arrested. She goes to prison, finds out she is pregnant, and begins to experience the horrors of prison.
Eleanor Parker is almost like a rabbit or a kitten; she is almost the definition of innocence, and seeing her go into the dark underbelly of the prison is fascinating.
She has many amazing scenes, including after her baby is born and she wants her mother to have it until she gets out, but her father refuses the idea, so she has to give the baby up for adoption, and she never sees it again. And like Meryl Streep in Silkwood, Eleanor Parker has a very shocking scene, where, as punishment, her head is shaven. Now, I checked, and Eleanor Parker actually shaved her head for the part, and that is incredible for 1950, and the scene is, in my opinion, incredibly terrifying.
Marie is subjected to cruelty by warden Evelyn Parker, played by the mind-blowing Hope Emerson. I give Eleanor Parker major props for not letting Hope Emerson completely controlling the scenes, she truly holds her own against her.
The role of Marie is hard to play. Parker has to find the right note to portray her in the beginning, so by the jaded ending, we get the sense she has changed. The ending is great, she has became a hardened woman from the absolute horrors she has experienced in prison, and it's her best moment, where she walks out of prison....but like Agnes Moorehead said, she'll be back.
Like Caged, Eleanor Parker's is very underrated. It's an hard performance to get just perfect, but Eleanor Parker does, and the results is an amazing example of a naive, innocent woman, who becomes hardened by prison.