Strait-Jacket (1964)

strait-jacket 1964

I expected a whole lot more considering the talent involved. Joan Crawford puts down her wire hangar and picks up an ax in this William Castle production. The screenplay is by Robert Bloch whose sardonic wit does surface here and there. The song “My Mother’s Eyes” pops up on the soundtrack a few times. It also features one of my favorite actress, Diane Baker. To their credit there wasn’t any blood or gore. It wouldn’t have added anything.

Lucy Harbin (Joan Crawford) comes home a day early from a trip and spots her younger husband and a babe in their bed. Then she spots an ax. That’s the last time they’ll fool around. Her young daughter has a ringside seat.

Twenty years go by. Carol Harbin (Diane Baker) is explaining the event to her fiancee Michael. Lucy is being released from the asylum. She’ll live on her brother Bill Cutler’s (Leif Erickson) farm along with Diane and his wife Emily. Carol is a sculptress and she’s made a bust of Lucy as she looked back then. She also saved her bracelets and a photo album. That makes Lucy edgy.

To try and make her happy Carol gives her a makeover with new clothes and a wig that make her look just the way she did twenty years ago. When she meets Michael she’s all flirtatious. That makes him nervous and Carol feeling more than awkward. Lucy’s fun ends when her psychiatrist from the asylum calls. He’s in town for a fishing trip and is on his way out to see her.

He thinks Lucy should be taken back. He won’t be able to drive without a head. Carol hides his car in the barn. Lucy told her the doctor left but Carol thinks she’s up to her old tricks.  Later Carol sees the hired hand, Leo Krause (George Kennedy), repainting the car intending to keep it for himself. Carol fires him. He won’t go and threatens to tell all about the doctor’s body in the freezer. Without a head he won’t be able to tell anybody anything.

Now it’s time for Lucy to meet the parents. Things don’t go well.

The movie works its way to the more than obvious ending which makes the whole thing fall flat with a giant thud. Too bad. One interesting note. This is one of the few William Castle movies where he doesn’t appear on screen to introduce it. Maybe he knew better.



About vintage45

I'm a big fan of vintage books,movies,TV shows and music. I encourage everyone to patronize your local used book/record store and pick up some of the good stuff. My posts are capsule reviews of some favorites that you may want to investigate. The albums posted aren't really reviews but items from my collection that are still available. I try and point out highlights of each one and let the music speak for itself. Thanks to all for checking out the blog.
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