Chained for Life (1951)

 “Nature never grants favours.”

The film Chained For Life features real-life Siamese twins, Daisy and Violet Hilton starring as singers Dorothy and Vivian Hamilton. The Hamilton sisters’ low-life manager, Hinkley (Allen Jenkins) concocts a publicity stunt scheme which involves one of the sisters marrying sleazy marksman, Andre Pariseau (Mario Laval). Pariseau goes along with the scheme because he wants top billing, and one of the sisters goes along with it because she’d like to have love and romance in her life.

chainedThe film shamelessly exploits the physical problems of being a Siamese twin, and the plot flirts with such salacious possibilities as how would the married couple have any privacy. In one scene we’re told that 27 states refuse the couple a marriage license as a marriage between Andre and a Siamese twin is considered bigamous. As the story develops, the implications of being a Siamese twin become much more serious when one of the twins faces the death penalty for murder. One twin commits the crime, but in essence both would serve the sentence. The film is all courtroom drama with flashbacks as various witnesses give their testimony.

The acting in Chained for Life is fairly dismal, but the musical numbers are good quality. The sound quality, however, is not great, and the film is a bit crackly. Chained for Life has little beyond the curiosity factor to recommend it, and all I can say is that I hope the singing Hilton sisters earned some serious money from making this film.

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