Strait-Jacket (1964)

89 mins | Mystery, Melodrama | 8 January 1964

Director:

William Castle

Writer:

Robert Bloch

Producer:

William Castle

Cinematographer:

Arthur E. Arling

Editor:

Edwin Bryant

Production Designer:

Boris Leven

Production Company:

William Castle Pictures
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HISTORY

Referring to the film as Straitjacket, the 30 Jan 1963 DV announced William Castle would be producing and directing his own story for Columbia Pictures as the third installment of a four-picture deal. An Apr 1963 production start date was expected, although a screenwriter was yet to be hired. Reflecting the change in the title to Strait-Jacket, the 11 Feb 1963 DV reported that Robert Bloch, who wrote the 1959 novel Psycho, had been assigned to write the screenplay.
       The 5 Mar 1963 LAT stated that Joan Blondell would star in the picture, but she did not remain with the project. On 27 May 1963, NYT announced that Joan Crawford had been cast in the lead role.
       The start of production was delayed several times. The 5 Apr 1963 and 24 May 1963 DV production charts listed start dates as 11 Jun and 16 Jul 1963, respectively.
       A 28 Jun 1963 DV production chart, which anticipated a 22 Jul 1963 start date, named Anthony McBride as a cast member. The 8 Jul 1963 DV added John Anthony Hayes and Anne Helm to the cast, marking Hayes’s feature film debut. Helm was later replaced by Diane Baker, whose casting was announced in the 24 Jul 1963 DV. The 18 Jul 1963 issue named Jack Bohrer as the film’s production manager. Modern sources indicated that Lee Majors made his feature film debut as the uncredited “Frank Harbin.”
       According to the 19 Jul 1963 DV, vice president of public relations for the Pepsi-Cola Company, Mitchell Cox, for ... More Less

Referring to the film as Straitjacket, the 30 Jan 1963 DV announced William Castle would be producing and directing his own story for Columbia Pictures as the third installment of a four-picture deal. An Apr 1963 production start date was expected, although a screenwriter was yet to be hired. Reflecting the change in the title to Strait-Jacket, the 11 Feb 1963 DV reported that Robert Bloch, who wrote the 1959 novel Psycho, had been assigned to write the screenplay.
       The 5 Mar 1963 LAT stated that Joan Blondell would star in the picture, but she did not remain with the project. On 27 May 1963, NYT announced that Joan Crawford had been cast in the lead role.
       The start of production was delayed several times. The 5 Apr 1963 and 24 May 1963 DV production charts listed start dates as 11 Jun and 16 Jul 1963, respectively.
       A 28 Jun 1963 DV production chart, which anticipated a 22 Jul 1963 start date, named Anthony McBride as a cast member. The 8 Jul 1963 DV added John Anthony Hayes and Anne Helm to the cast, marking Hayes’s feature film debut. Helm was later replaced by Diane Baker, whose casting was announced in the 24 Jul 1963 DV. The 18 Jul 1963 issue named Jack Bohrer as the film’s production manager. Modern sources indicated that Lee Majors made his feature film debut as the uncredited “Frank Harbin.”
       According to the 19 Jul 1963 DV, vice president of public relations for the Pepsi-Cola Company, Mitchell Cox, for which Crawford served on the board of directors, was assigned the role of “Dr. Anderson” at Crawford’s suggestion. Cox stated that his film debut in Strait-Jacket would also mark his last onscreen appearance.
       Principal photography finally began on 23 Jul 1963 at Columbia Studios in Culver City, CA, as reported in the 24 Jul 1963 DV.
       The crew spent one week filming on location in Riverside, CA, as indicated in the 2 Aug 1963 DV. They were joined there for two days by Columbia’s trailer department head Jack Atlas and his camera crew to record promotional footage, as stated in the 8 Aug 1963 DV.
       The 19 Aug 1963 DV announced that principal photography was completed that day, five days ahead of schedule. A $550,000 budget was listed, with Joan Crawford reportedly receiving 15-20% of the film’s profits as part of her contract. Crawford and Castle hosted a wrap party for the crew on 21 Aug 1963 at Stage 4 of Columbia Studios, according to that day’s DV.
       The 1 Jan 1964 LAT noted that Strait-Jacket would open in Los Angeles, CA, theaters on 8 Jan 1964.
       On 9 Jan 1964, DV reported the LAT’s objection to the violent print advertisement for Strait-Jacket, depicting Crawford wielding an ax. LAT claimed the ad had “slipped” passed its advertising manager’s review and had been printed in the publication by accident. A revised version with the catchline “Warning! ‘Strait-Jacket’ vividly depicts ax murders!” barely met LAT’s standards. However, the LAHExam reportedly had no issue with the film’s artwork, as the ax did not show “actual bodily contact.”
       The picture opened in New York City on 22 Jan 1964, as a double bill with the 1961 release, War is Hell (see entry). The 23 Jan 1964 NYT review deemed Strait-Jacket “a disgusting piece of claptrap.” More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
30 Jan 1963
p. 2.
Daily Variety
11 Feb 1963
p. 15.
Daily Variety
5 Apr 1963
p. 8.
Daily Variety
24 May 1963
p. 6.
Daily Variety
28 Jun 1963
p. 8.
Daily Variety
8 Jul 1963
p. 2.
Daily Variety
18 Jul 1963
p. 4.
Daily Variety
19 Jul 1963
p. 4.
Daily Variety
24 Jul 1963
p. 2.
Daily Variety
2 Aug 1963
p. 4.
Daily Variety
8 Aug 1963
p. 3.
Daily Variety
19 Aug 1963
p. 2.
Daily Variety
21 Aug 1963
p. 11.
Daily Variety
6 Jan 1964
p. 3.
Daily Variety
9 Jan 1964
p. 1, 4.
Los Angeles Times
5 Mar 1963
Section D, p. 6.
Los Angeles Times
1 Jan 1964
Section D, p. 9.
New York Times
27 May 1963
p. 25.
New York Times
23 Jan 1964
p. 26.
Variety
11 Dec 1963
p. 15.
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Straitjacket
Release Date:
8 January 1964
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 8 January 1964
New York opening: 22 January 1964
Production Date:
23 July--19 August 1963
Copyright Claimant:
William Castle Pictures
Copyright Date:
1 December 1963
Copyright Number:
LP26783
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
89
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

Lucy Harbin returns unexpectedly to her farm after a trip out of town and discovers her husband in bed with another woman. Crazed, she grabs an ax and hacks the lovers to death in full view of her 3-year-old daughter, Carol. Lucy is committed to an asylum and her brother and sister-in-law take Carol and move west to another farm. Twenty years later Lucy is released from the asylum and comes to find her family. Carol, now a talented sculptress, is in love with wealthy young Michael Fields. The girl is anxious for her dowdy mother to look as she did 20 years earlier and persuades her to wear makeup, a black wig, youthful clothing, and jangling jewelry. Lucy behaves badly when she meets Michael; and the arrival of Dr. Anderson, the psychiatrist who treated her at the asylum, upsets her further. The doctor tells Carol that he thinks Lucy should return to the asylum and he is about to tell Lucy when he is hacked to death in a farm building. Later, Lucy tells Carol that the doctor left, but the girl finds the doctor's car and, suspecting that Lucy has reverted to violence, she hides the car. A hired hand sees her, and the next day Carol finds him repainting the car, which he says is his. She fires him but he refuses to leave, threatening to reveal that he discovered Dr. Anderson's body in the meat refrigerator. Lucy overhears the conversation, and the hired hand is later found axed to death. That night Lucy meets Michael's parents and she nervously reveals the couple's plan to wed. Mrs. Fields objects and is rude to Lucy, who flies ... +


Lucy Harbin returns unexpectedly to her farm after a trip out of town and discovers her husband in bed with another woman. Crazed, she grabs an ax and hacks the lovers to death in full view of her 3-year-old daughter, Carol. Lucy is committed to an asylum and her brother and sister-in-law take Carol and move west to another farm. Twenty years later Lucy is released from the asylum and comes to find her family. Carol, now a talented sculptress, is in love with wealthy young Michael Fields. The girl is anxious for her dowdy mother to look as she did 20 years earlier and persuades her to wear makeup, a black wig, youthful clothing, and jangling jewelry. Lucy behaves badly when she meets Michael; and the arrival of Dr. Anderson, the psychiatrist who treated her at the asylum, upsets her further. The doctor tells Carol that he thinks Lucy should return to the asylum and he is about to tell Lucy when he is hacked to death in a farm building. Later, Lucy tells Carol that the doctor left, but the girl finds the doctor's car and, suspecting that Lucy has reverted to violence, she hides the car. A hired hand sees her, and the next day Carol finds him repainting the car, which he says is his. She fires him but he refuses to leave, threatening to reveal that he discovered Dr. Anderson's body in the meat refrigerator. Lucy overhears the conversation, and the hired hand is later found axed to death. That night Lucy meets Michael's parents and she nervously reveals the couple's plan to wed. Mrs. Fields objects and is rude to Lucy, who flies into a rage, vows that nothing will stop the marriage, and rushes from the house. Later that night, Mr. Fields is chopped to death and, when his wife investigates the noise, a woman who appears to be Lucy attempts to kill her, but Lucy walks in and stops her. The look-alikes grapple until Lucy strips a mask and wig from the other woman, revealing her own daughter, who had planned the deaths of her beau's parents even before Lucy's release. Carol has a complete breakdown and is committed to an asylum. Realizing that her own crime led to Carol's insanity, Lucy goes to care for her at the asylum. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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