Chained for Life (1952)

Not Rated   |    |  Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

Chained for Life (1952) Poster

A Siamese twin kills the husband who left her. The courts have to decide if she is convicted of murder, how can they punish her sister, who had nothing to do with the crime?



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Cast & Crew

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Harry L. Fraser


Nat Tanchuck (screenplay), Albert DePina (additional dialogue), Ross Frisco (idea)

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4 July 2004 | lawprof
| Here It Is: The Ultimate, Weird Exploitation Flick
Director Harry L. Fraser, who gave us the unforgettable "I Accuse My Parents," went over the top with Hollywood's first (and, I suspect, lone) drama of the travails of two women who truly were, both in the film and in real life, inseparable.

Teen actresses and major merchandising mavens Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen have been described as joined at the hip. That was the reality for former vaudevillians Violet and Daisy Hilton, the Siamese twins starring in this crime film. Violet is Vivian and Daisy is Dorothy, not that it matters much.

The twins, a bit long in the tooth when the movie was made, reprise their old hoofer routine in a show that includes a master marksman and his gal, a beautiful on-stage assistant. Having Vivian get married is a publicity idea which she accepts enthusiastically, her close sibling less so. But she comes around hoping for her sister's connubial joy. The intended groom is the show's Dead Eye Dick. His motive: money to go through with the wedding.

Complications arise including the refusal of a number of states to issue marriage licenses on the tenuous, indeed unsustainable, grounds that a marriage by one of the twins would constitute bigamy. Nonsense. In fact Siamese twins in the nineteenth century, never mind later, got married in the U.S. Vivian is jilted on her wedding night so we don't get to see any conjugal maneuvering (not that we would have seen much in a 1951 feature).

Vivian and Dorothy watch the marksman do his act and Dorothy casually shoots the guy dead. The film begins with a judge asking, from his desk, for help from moviegoers in deciding whether to find the homicidal woman guilty, the sentence then either requiring that the other also be executed or, if a lesser charge was sustained, both would go to the slammer. I imagine conversations going on long into the night by folks who viewed the film and couldn't stop talking about the jurist's dilemma. This is a film with a question about justice-unfortunately it's too arcane for any serious discussion.

Court scenes alternate with recounting of the tale. The courtroom is as fake as the plot. And the Alpha Video DVD cover's posters from the original release promise licentious tidbits that never come close to surfacing. "Joined Together How Can They Make Love?" "What Happens in Their Intimate Moments?" That's what I wanted to know and why I forked out $4.99 for the disc. Phooey.

4/10 (for its curiosity value)

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