Aug 25, 2011
Movie Poster of the Day: Chained for Life (1951) is an exploitation film starring Siamese twins Daisy and Violet Hilton, of Freaks fame. Here is the review I wrote of the film on Internet Movie Database in 2008:
This is an unusual film, to say the least. Chained For Life (1951) is the story of Siamese Twins Dorothy and Vivian Hamilton (interestingly, Daisy and Violet Hilton get to keep their initials in the film), one of whom — Vivian — is accused of shooting her sister’s lover. We see their story in flashback form: Dorothy falling in love with a nasty, two-timing sharpshooter Andre (Mario Laval); Dorothy and Vivian singing (they sound like the Andrews Sisters) in a vaudeville act; Andre falling for Dorothy as part of a publicity stunt cooked up by their manager; oh, and did I mention the endless vaudeville scenes in the movie? One of the reasons the film falls short of its potential is because there are too many vaudeville scenes — too much sharpshooting, too many stale jokes, too many music routines — and they severely undermine the film’s pace because they drag on so long. There are some terrific moments in the film, though, especially the dream sequence where Dorothy — well, actually, a double playing Dorothy — is separated from Vivian and dances outside under the starry sky, meeting her dream lover (in this scene, we only see a close-up of Dorothy behind some tree branches, which conceal Dorothy/Daisy’s twin, Vivian/Violet). Another memorable scene is a profoundly humane speech delivered by a blind minister condemning bigotry. It is interesting that a blind character can see the world more clearly than the characters with 20/20 vision. Overall, this is a compelling film that keeps you watching. I agree with one poster who expressed regret that the movie is not a more faithful account of Daisy and Violet’s actual story. The twins lived a deeply troubled life and it is amazing to see how much they have aged in the 19 years since Freaks (1932) was made. They look old and tired in this film — even older than their 43 years. They have wrinkles under their eyes and they seem like they’ve seen it all. They’ve lost their youthful vitality and innocence they had in Freaks. And some of the acting in the film is pretty iffy. But this film deserves a higher rating than what it gets on IMDb. This reviewer gives it a 6/10. It is well worth your time. And it is now included in an excellent four-DVD set of exploitation films called "Cult Classics," released by Mill Creek Entertainment. See it if you get a chance.