The ABC Movie of the Week for January 25, 1972, Women In Chains brings Ida Lupino to TV for her first made-for-TV movie, as well as bringing her back to the WIP genre that she made such a mark on with 1955’s Women’s Prison.
She plays prison guard Claire Tyson (Ida Lupino), a woman who can get away with anything that she wants to, as long as its within the prison walls. Parole officer Sandra Parker (Lois Nettleton, who was on the TV series form of In the Heat of the Night) gets the idea to make herself over as junkie Sally Porter to the protests of Assistant District Attorney Helen Anderson (Penny Fuller).
Helen is the only one who knows about this undercover work, but when she’s shot and killed by the boyfriend of one of her cases our heroine is stuck in the big house. Her goal is to save an innocent girl named Lemina (Belinda Montgomery, Dooger Hauser’s mom) but she runs into Tyson’s henchwoman Leila (BarBara Luna, who was in the “Mirror, Mirror” episode of the original Star Trek). After asking so many questions, the word comes down. Helen/Sally is going to get killed, so she makes a daring escape that brings her directly into physical combat with Tyson.
Written by Rita Lakin (who wrote 464 episodes, eight movies of the week and two miniseries in her career, as well as the Gladdy Gold Mystery book series) and directed by Bernard L. Kowalski (Night of the Blood Beast, Sssssss), don’t go into this movie expecting the normal WIP hallmarks. After all, this aired on broadcast TV. That doesn’t make this a bad film, however.
You can watch this on YouTube.