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Lucy Harbin has been in an asylum for twenty 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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
When Christina Crawford's memoir Mommie Dearest caused an uproar about Joan Crawford's lack of parental skills, sarcastic t-shirts were manufactured featuring the image of Crawford wielding an axe from this film above the words: "Joan Crawford Daycare Center." See more »
Early in film, front page of a newspaper announcing Lucy Harbin's sentence to an insane asylum features a photo of her wearing a pair of earrings that she didn't purchase until her release, twenty years later. See more »
And so with those words begins this wacked out slasher film/murder mystery that shows Joan Crawford lopping off the heads of her husband and his girlfriend while they lie in post-coital repose -- and that's before the opening credits have even started!
"Strait-Jacket" has the look and feel of "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?" and all of those other exploitative films from the 1960s that put once-great declining actresses in campy schlock and let audiences howl at them. But somehow, this movie doesn't feel exploitative. If Joan Crawford had delivered a bad performance, it would have. But she tackles the role with such seriousness and commitment that she single-handedly ends up selling the film to you, and making you genuinely care about her character and what happens to her. Joan Crawford may have been hell to live and work with in her personal life, but it takes an actress with a unique skill to make a film like this not only competent, but almost fascinating.
As for the movie itself, it's laughably predictable. I called the "surprise" ending about fifteen minutes into the film, and then talked myself out of it because I thought it would be too obvious. Well, I should have stuck to my guns, but it didn't much matter -- by the end I was no longer watching the film for the ending -- I was watching it for Joan, which is the only reason (albeit a damn good one) for watching this film at all.
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