Strait Jacket- Joan Crawford Queen of the Screen

When it comes to Joan Crawford, I may not be a major fan of hers, but do believe she had a major staying power in Hollywood that few others processed. I admire her determination and have warmed up to some of her movies, with me being able to appreciate her as an actress, so I didn’t pass up the opportunity to participate in Pale Writer and Poppity Talks Classic films Joan Crawford Queen of the Screen blogathon!

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Unlike most classic Hollywood fans, I first learned of Strait Jacket though the FX Feud 2017 miniseries. I saw the side by side comparison on YouTube shortly after and really applauded the way they were able to replicate the trailer so accurately. However, that wasn’t enough to get me to watch the movie.

Fast forward two years later and I see it playing on TCM, so I decided to DVR it and give it a shot. Initially, I thought it would be just something super campy, embarrassing, and laughable- but I was gladly proven wrong, as this movie really blew me away with its suspense and acting.

Side by side comparison- its pretty cool!

Strait Jacket is basically the movie Joan did in place of Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte (after she was replaced by Olivia de Hallivand) and I enjoyed it more than Charlotte. Joan stars as Lucy, a woman who after axe-murdering her husband and his lover, spends 20 years in a mental asylum. Lucy’s daughter Carol (Diane Baker) witnessed the murder, and she then is sent to live with Lucy’s brother, Bill and his wife, Emily (Leif Erikson and Rochelle Hudson).

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(wikipedia) The warning note was a heavy marketing tool

Directed by William Castle, this flick picks up when Lucy is released from the hospital and reunited with Carol. Carol is happy to have her Mom back again, and treats to her to a new dress, bracelets, and a wig- to make her feel 20 years younger. This all backfires however, when Lucy starts flirting with Carol’s fiancé, Michael Fields (John Anthony Hayes).

It gets even more twisted when a series of axe-murders start occurring again, and Bill and Carol suspect Lucy should be re-admitted to the mental asylum.

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(Joancrawfordbest.com) Joan believed so much in this project she participated in a national press tour to promote it

The actual twist is somewhat predictable, yet when it’s revealed, it’s still a lot to process with the whole backstory. I really can’t describe anymore plot without spoiling everything- but I will admit I was shocked by the final axe-murder victim, as well as the climactic reveal sequence.  

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(Imdb) Stunning visuals!

Overall, this movie is what I described earlier- campy and laughable- but it has solid performances that allows it to be likable. Joan is over the top – but is so brilliant at being so, that you end up being impressed by it. The axe murders by today’s standards are nothing scary- but are impressive, from the sound effect (chopping of a watermelon) to the visuals. And of course what makes this movie really work and stand out from other B-pictures of the era has to be the right amount of camp- from the opening title visuals to the scene with Joan lighting her cigarette on the turntable- it’s all in the name of entertainment.

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A true Queen of the Screen

And of course– I have to mention because this is Joan Crawford- Pepsi even has a cameo appearance. There is even blink and miss it scene with Mitchell Cox, the then-VP of Pepsi playing Lucy’s doctor.   

1964. 'Strait-Jacket.' With Diane Baker and Pepsi.
(JoanCrawfordbest.com)

CLICK HERE to buy Strait Jacket on Blu Ray from Amazon!

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8 thoughts on “Strait Jacket- Joan Crawford Queen of the Screen

  1. Pingback: All Hail the Queen! The Joan Crawford: Queen of the Silver Screen Blogathon has arrived! – Poppity Talks Classic Film

  2. I am so delighted to see you write about this film because although it is indeed campy with a sometimes low budget feel, there are many good things about it. The most notable is Joan’s performance which allowed her to demonstrate a wide range of emotions. She had previously tackled the subject of mental illness in ‘Possessed’ (1947) but she is much more intense in this picture. I thought the scenes of her transitioning back to a seemingly normal existence were quite well done and appeared to have been done with accuracy, not unlike when Norman Bates come back home in ‘Psycho II’. Speaking of which, Robert Bloch also penned the original screenplay for ‘Strait-Jacket’!
    Ironically I just watched this film again two nights ago and was impressed with the quality of the film, which is exactly how you describe it. The murders are indeed quite shocking and you are really hooked to the very end of the mystery. I must say that the scariest part is that creepy mask at the end! That really gave me chills down the spine!

    Thank you so much for your great contribution and for having participated in our blogathon! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This film does get a lot of bad press. However, I liked your thoughtful review, and your appreciation of Joan’s performance.

    For some reason I haven’t yet crossed paths with this film, but when I do, I’ll be glad to have read your review beforehand.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Paddy Lee

    I first saw Straight-Jacket in my ‘tween years and it scared the bejeesus out of me. A more recent viewing had me admiring what people do with what they have to work. I say bravo!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Rick

    I just watched it again a few months ago and, like you, was pleasantly surprised. Joan is quite good in it and I also enjoyed Diane Baker’s performance.

    Liked by 2 people

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