Wednesday Non Horror Review: The Big Bird Cage (1972) Movie Review
The Big Bird Cage
Written and directed by Jack Hill
Starring Pam Grier and Sid Haig
Reviewer: Brandon Ennals
The Big Bird Cage is a women in prison movie made in 1972 by Jack Hill. It isn’t a typical prison as we know it today. It is more like a labor camp in the Far East. Women that commit crimes are sent to this camp as punishment, where they are forced to operate a machine called The Big Bird Cage which separates sugar from its cane.
We are also introduced to a group of revolutionaries led by Blossom (Pam Grier) and Django (Sid Haig). The revolutionaries decide they need more women in their camp to help further the efforts of their cause. So where are these troops going to find the women they so desire? You guessed it, the labor camp.
First, let me start with the director Jack Hill. Hill knows how to craft exploitation films, as is noticed in this film. He blends alot of exploitation elements that are staples of the genre. He develops characters that have charisma and are very likable. Hill also manages to give us villains that are very unlikable, but not necessarily devious or evil. The Big Bird Cage is supposed to be a fun movie, so it is a good decision to refrain from making the villains overly despicable. Even though the movie does include the beating of women, sexual assault, and other violent acts, it never feels mean spirited. I’m sure that’s hard to imagine, but its true.
Most of the movie follows the character of Terry, played by the sultry Anitra Ford. She was very likable and also very attractive throughout. When looking at her acting credits, I was surprised to see she did not have many major movie roles. Most of her credits are linked to television series roles. I thought she was one of the stronger actors in the film, and when the movie lags a bit, she gives the eye candy to pull you through it.
Another character that appeals to the audience is that of Blossom, played by Pam Grier. This is Pam Grier very early in her career, as it is only her second role in a feature film. Even at this early stage in her career, you can see she lights up the screen when she is featured. Blossom is a take charge kind of girl which fits Grier’s personality perfectly. She must have impressed Jack Hill since he later cast her in Foxy Brown and Coffey.
Last but certainly not least, we have the character of Django, played by Sid Haig. Haig is absolutely the star of this film. From the moment we see the character of Django, he steals each and every scene. In fact, the role he plays later in the film when he tries to coerce his way into the labor camp is one of my favorite performances by him. He adds the perfect amount of comic relief to the film. Haig and Grier have great on screen chemistry, so it is no surprise Jack Hill cast Haig to be in Coffey and Foxy Brown with Grier.
The Big Bird Cage was a fun, entertaining movie. Is it great? Not really. However, if you are looking for a mindless movie that you can laugh at, then I would say give this a shot. There’s not alot of character development. Not much in the way of character arcs. Some of the deaths are pretty comical. So if you’re into scantily clad women, bare breasts, mud wrestling, catfights, and a movie you can just kick back and enjoy, then The Big Bird Cage just might be for you.
My rating for The Big Bird Cage is 7.25 out of 10.