The Big Bird Cage (1972) – By Duane L. Martin

Terry (Anitra Ford) is an American girl who’s slept her way through 90% of the men in the Phillipine government. She’s smart, she’s classy and she’s beautiful. Unfortunately, while out to dinner one night with yet another man, she gets caught up in a robbery that takes place in the restaurant she’s at and is taken hostage. The robbery was perpetrated by Django (Sid Haig) and Blossom (Pam Grier), a couple who run a group of revolutionaries that plan on having a revolution…someday. Django carjacks a cab and he and Terry take off into the night with a terrified old couple in the back seat. Terry’s reaction to all this? She’s having the time of her life. The cops catch up to them though, so Django says his goodbyes to her and jumps off a bridge to escape. Because she didn’t resist, Terry is accused of being an accomplice and is sentenced to a federal work camp run by a crazy warden who believes in strict discipline and who only hires gay men to work as prison guards so they can’t be seduced by the women. Unfortunately, even though Terry thinks someone will get her out in no time, in reality she’s on her own because no one in power wants to be publicly connected to her because of the scandal it would create. So who can save her? Well…

It seems that the guys in Django and Blossom’s little revolutionary band are getting restless…and horny. They all get together and decide that the way to get the revolution going would be to add a bunch of women to their ranks, so they approach Django with the idea. Where will they find women? You guessed it. They’re going to break them out of the federal work camp. So they come up with a plan. Blossom gets herself incarcerated there and works from the inside while Django pretends to be gay so he can get a job as a guard there. Once everything’s in place, the plan goes into motion, but will they make it out alive? You’ll have to see the film to find out.

I’m just going to start off by saying this. You have not lived until you’ve seen Sid Haig act like a gay man. Oh my god, it’s freakin’ hilarious. I was dying when he started talking in that lilty voice. It was just so over the top that I was thinking to myself something that my friend likes to say, "Oh my heart!" Sid Haig literally made this movie. God he was great. The improvement in Pam Grier’s acting ability was also VERY evident in this film. She just kept getting better and better, and the two of them make a great pair on screen.

The big bird cage isn’t just the name of the movie. It’s actually a structure in the film that the warden built to process sugar from raw sugar cane. There was a grinding wheel on the ground to grind the cane, while the tower, which was the part that was known as the bird cage, was another step in the process. However, girls were sent to work up there mostly as punishment, because there had been a high number of fatal accidents up there.

I could go on and on about how great Sid Haig was in this film, and that would be enough to sell anyone on it, but there was more to it than that. The gay prison guards were funny, the warden was a little bitch, the dynamic between the female prisoners was great, there were some really fun fight scenes, including a great one in the mud, and best of all, it wasn’t set in the same prison as the other two movies, which kept it from feeling totally redundant. This one is actually a mostly open camp that’s kind of out in the middle of the jungle. Everything about this one just worked. I still think The Big Doll House had a slightly better story overall, but this one had a lot more fun to it, and as such, is my favorite one to watch in this Shout Factory, Women in Cages triple feature set, and is definitely one I’ll be watching again in the future.

This one, like The Big Doll House, was directed by Jack Hill, and for special features, includes an audio commentary with him, the film’s trailer, and a TV spot for the film.

This release is available on DVD and Blu-ray. If you’d like to find out more about this release, or to pick up a copy for yourself, you can visit its pages on the Shout Factory website by clicking the links below.

Blu-Ray / DVD