Edgar G. Ulmer, director

Girls in Chains (USA; 1943)

Original lobby card


Although lesbians were nearly banished from the movie screen during the reign of the Production Code, suggestions of lesbianism still surfaced in exploitation films.  Particularly common were women in prison films.  The prison setting allowed straight female characters to develop intimate relationships with other women prisoners, often in suggestive stages of undress, for the pleasure of a male heterosexual audience.  The prison films further hinted at lesbianism by depicting dominating, “butch” prison wardens who did not conform to the normal rules of femininity.


Edward L. Cahn, director

Betrayed Women (USA; 1955)

Original UK still

Betrayed Women includes several teasing hints of lesbianism so common to this genre, including this image of a private moment between a nude but sheet-covered female inmate and a nurse. The film also features a sadistic dominatrix prison guard, Darcy (Sarah Haden), and a tagline that can be read as an underhanded intimation of Sapphic suggestion, “Women in Solidarity!”


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