Classic Cinema #44: Straight-Jacket (1964) – By Jason S. Lockard

My Name is Jason Lockard and I love when dramatic actors transition into horror. Bette Davis did it in What ever happened to baby Jane. Barbara Standwyck did it in The Night Walker and our star of the month Joan Crawford did it in 1964 as well.

Joan Crawford was born Lucille Fay LeSueur on March 23, 1905 in San Antonio, Texas. Lucille began her career in entertainment as a dancer and traveled with theatrical companies before debuting on Broadway. Than in 1925 she signed a contract by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and changed her name to Joan Crawford. After years of small roles in the 1930s Crawford’s fame began to rivaled that of MGM colleagues Norma Shearer, Greta Garbo and Jean Harlow.

During her career Crawford would appear in some of the greatest films in Hollywood history, such as; 1932’s Grand Hotel and Rain, 1937s Mannequin, 1939 The Woman, 1940s Strange Cargo, 1945’s Mildred Pierce for which she won her only Oscar as Best Actress in a leading role. Crawford was voted the tenth greatest female star in the history of American cinema by the American Film Institute.

In 1964 Joan Crawford starred in Straight-Jacket. The film follows Lucy Harbin (Crawford) who has spent twenty years in a psychiatric hospital for the decapitation axe-murder of her husband and his mistress. After her release, she takes up residence at the farm of her brother Bill Cutler, his wife Emily and her estranged daughter Carol.

Suddenly a series of brutal axe-murders begin with a doctor, who is found in the freezer & the shady hired man Leo. Is Lucy on her way back to the psychiatric hospital or worse the electric chair, find out when you watch Straight-Jacket.

After a public appearance on September 23, 1974, at a party honoring her old friend Rosalind Russell she saw the unflattering photos of both stars that appeared in the papers the next day, she said, "If that’s how I look, then they won’t see me anymore." Crawford cancelled all public appearances, began declining interviews and left her apartment less and less. On May 8, 1977, Crawford gave away her beloved Shih Tzu "Princess Lotus Blossom", which she was too weak to care for properly. Crawford died two days later at her New York apartment from a heart attack, while also ill with pancreatic cancer.

Moral Rating: Violence
Audience: Parental Guidance
Genre: Horror
Length: 93 Minutes
Our Rating: A