The plot centers around the going ons in a women’s penitentiary, where peculiarly enough, children are allowed to live with their mothers until the age of three. If the mother hasn’t been paroled, the children get adopted out, and tears and rage ensue. Ford plays Sophie Brice, one such prisoner affected by tragic circumstances in the prison, and Cooper plays Helen Jennings, the prison guard doomed to end up on the wrong end of Sophie's knitting needles. The chemistry between Ford and Cooper is electric and makes you grieve that these two legends never appeared on the same continuing show.
Similar to the premise of Caged, Mommie Dearest, and even Showgirls, House of Women ambitiously endeavors to tell a sensitive and relevant story about women dealing with painful heartache and struggle. It unintentionally and laughably ends up becoming a joke of itself by setting up silly premises, radically changing character motives at various points, inconsistent editing, and classic woman-against-woman violence.
Constance Ford, however, was able to lend the film a realistic gravity that manages to make the absurd events emotionally compelling. Her complex and brilliant acting skills were rarely utilized on ANOTHER WORLD, but are on full display here. Conversely, Jeanne Cooper’s smaller role in this film fails to demonstrate her fire cracking range of emotion and passionate expression that was to become her signature style on Y&R. Nevertheless, you get the pleasure of seeing a master thespian early in her craft, and glimpses of what was to come from her later.
House of Women was recently restored and released on DVD for the very first time. It makes a perfect gift for the soap historian who already has abundance of memorabilia, and for friends who simply will enjoy a good old fashioned camptastic romp. You can purchase your copy here.
Damon L. Jacobs is a Licensed Therapist in New York City who specializes in treating depression, stress management, anger management, ageism, and grief/loss issues. He is also the author of the popular book "Absolutely Should-less: The Secret to Living the Stress-Free Life You Deserve," currently available at Amazon.com. For more information about scheduling a Skype consultation or a speaking engagement, please email him at Shouldless@gmail.com.