Welcome, children of the night! This Blog is for fans of vintage horror films as well as those who are just beginning to discover the joy of these classic movies. I'd love to hear from you!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Straight-Jacket (1964)

In 1962 horror movie magic was made when screen legends Joan Crawford and Bette Davis joined forces for the classic What Ever Happened to Baby Jane.  Director William Castle was so impressed with this film that he hired Robert Bloch, the writer of Psycho, to develop a script to use with one of the two stars.  Then he hounded Joan Crawford until he convinced her to do the picture.  He also caved in to her numerous demands which included script approval and casting approval.  The results, however, were definitely worth the effort.

Straight-Jacket is a tour-de-force performance from Crawford who, along with Bette Davis, does crazy like no other actresses of their generation,  Crawford basically dominates ever scene she's in.  You simply can't take your eyes off her as she covers a staggering arrange of emotions.

The basic storyline is as follows: Lucy Harbin (Crawford] goes cray-cray when she finds her husband and another woman in her bed.  She chops both of their heads off and ends up in an insane asylum for 20 years.  Our film takes place after she is released from the looney bin are reunites with her daughter Carol who witnessed the murders while she was a child.  That's all you need to know.  The rest simply needs to be enjoyed without any pre-conceived notions of what's coming next.

Diane Baker [Marnie, The Silence of the Lambs] is wonderful as the daughter and holds her ground very well against Crawford.  She was actually the second actress cast for the part.  However, Crawford walked off set when she felt the first actress wasn't up to par.  Baker stepped in where angels fear to tread and the rest, as they say, is cinematic history.

While this film isn't quite as good as Homicidal, it is wonderfully directed by William Castle and has no gimmicks whatsoever.  Let's face it, who needs gimmicks when you have Joan Crawford!  The cast also includes veteran actor George Kennedy as the creepy farm hand as well as Lee Major's film debut as Frank Harbin [uncredited].

Straight-Jacket is definitely a bit campy and over-the-top but that's what makes it so fun to watch.  What more do I need to say?  WATCH THIS FILM!

RATING: Excellent.

For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.

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