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Strait-Jacket (1964)

Approved | | Drama, Horror, Thriller | 19 January 1964 (USA)
After a twenty-year stay at an asylum for a double murder, a mother returns to her estranged daughter where suspicions arise about her behavior.




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Complete credited cast:
Lucy Harbin
Carol Harbin
Bill Cutler
Howard St. John ...
Raymond Fields
John Anthony Hayes ...
Michael Fields
Emily Cutler
Leo Krause
Mrs. Alison Fields
Mitchell Cox ...
Dr. Anderson


Lucy Harbin has been in an asylum for 20 years after axing her husband and his mistress during a crime of passion, witnessed by her young daughter, Carol. While trying to renew ties with Carol, who is now a young woman about to be married, heads begin to roll again. Is Lucy repeating her past? Written by Ray Hamel <hamel@primate.wisc.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis




Drama | Horror | Thriller


Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

19 January 1964 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Die Zwangsjacke  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


After nearly 100 films over 40 years, this proved to be yet another hit film for the durable Joan Crawford. See more »


There are several references to the Fields' farm being a dairy farm. However, in multiple scenes, you can see that they are Black Angus beef cattle. See more »


First little girl: Lucy Harbin took an axe, gave her husband forty whacks, when she saw what she had done, she gave his girlfriend forty one.
Carol Harbin: [Lucy storms out to find two girls playing jump rope] What is it, Mother?
Lucy Harbin: I heard them...
First little girl: London bridge is falling down, falling down, London bridge is falling down, my fair lady.
Carol Harbin: It's just a nursery rhyme, mother.
Second little girl: Take the key and lock her up, lock her up, lock her up, take the key and lock her up, my fair lady.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The Columbia Pictures logo at the end of the film features the classic woman with torch, only her head has been chopped off and it's sitting at her feet. See more »


Referenced in Morgan Stewart's Coming Home (1987) See more »


All of Me
(Gerald Marks/Seymour Simons) remade as "There Goes That Song Again"
(Written by Jule Styne and Sammy Cahn). Both songs share the same melody.
Song being played on the record player.
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Excellent little shocker from William Castle!
28 November 2006 | by (Beverley Hills, England) – See all my reviews

William Castle is best known for fun, gimmicky horror flicks the likes of The House on Haunted Hill and The Tingler; but his resume features some more complex films that can comfortably sit alongside the best B-movies of the sixties, and Straight-Jacket is one such film. Obviously, a film of this nature relies heavily on its lead star; so it's a good job that this one benefits from a great leading performance courtesy of the fabulous Joan Crawford. Crawford isn't as good here as she was two years earlier in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane, but she approaches her role with seriousness, and it gives the film a sense of credibility not often associated with this type of film. The plot takes obvious influence from Psycho, and focuses on Lucy Harbin. She was sent to an asylum after she discovered her husband in bed with another woman, and proceeded to axe them both to death. She is released twenty years later, still on the brink of sanity, and is reunited with her daughter Carol (who was present at the murder) and discovers that she is engaged to be married.

The tagline, which states that the film 'vividly depicts axe murders' isn't exactly true, and the film is not very shocking in today's day and age. However, this would obviously have been different back in 1964, and despite no real money shots; Castle gives his film a great macabre atmosphere, and this adequately provides the horror on its own. Crawford gets a great support cast to work with, and again the film transcends its B-movie heritage as they're all extremely good. Diane Baker, Leif Erickson and my personal favourite, George Kennedy, all manage to give stand-out performances behind the leading lady. The film opens up with a great little sequence which shows why the lead character was sent to the asylum, and although the plotting takes a downturn after that; Castle manages to keep things interesting all the way down to the explosive ending. The final plot twist isn't exactly impossible to figure out, but I have to say that it caught me by surprise and while not everything completely makes sense by the end, Castle does a good job of implementing the twist. Overall, Homicidal and Mr Sardonicus still top my list of favourite William Castle films, but Straight-Jacket isn't far behind and comes highly recommended!

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