Susan Dey in Cage Without a Key

In 1975, Susan Dey starred in Cage Without a Key, a TV movie for CBS where she received top-billing for the first time in her career. She had previously appeared in another TV movie in 1973, Terror on the Beach, but in that project she was billed as a special guest star. Cage Without a Key was also Susan Dey's first social issue drama, a theme she would revisit frequently during her 25 year career.

In Cage Without a Key, Susan Dey portrays Valerie Smith, a 17 year old who gets caught up in a series of circumstances which spiral out of control. It all begins after she accepts a ride from a young man named Buddy Goleta (played by Sam Bottoms), a person that she does not know. The guy turns out to be a junkie and forces Susan Dey's character to take part in a liquor store robbery, which quickly goes wrong after the guy shoots a couple people and the police arrive.

Charged with taking part in the crime, Susan Dey must go to court. Luckily, she gets a young and intelligent public defender (played by Michael Brandon). Unluckily, Sam Bottoms character decides to lie on the stand and implicates her. Susan Dey is found guilty and sentenced to do time at San Marcos School for Girls, a rehabilitation center/prison for juvenile girls.

At San Marcos, Susan Dey finds herself the target of recruitment attempts by two warring cliques. She resists initially, but gradually gets worn down by the negative atmosphere of the place and eventually befriends a young black inmate named Tommy (played by Jonelle Allen). Meanwhile, her public defender Michael Brandon works to find a way to free the wrongly accused Susan Dey.

Cage Without a Key was written by Joanna Lee, who would also write Susan Dey's next TV movie, Mary Jane Harper Cried Last Night.

Here are some Cage Without a Key promotional stills:

Susan Dey and Sam Bottoms in Cage Without a Key

Susan Dey and Susie Elene in Cage Without a Key

Susan Dey and Jonelle Allen in Cage Without a Key

Here are some articles and advertisements for Cage Without a Key:

Here are some images of Susan Dey in Cage Without a Key: