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It is not easy to talk about a thriller released fifty-two years ago, if we consider the quantity of films and stories that came after. Then "Strait-Jacket" to the modern man appears as an easy story in which we can guess everything after few minutes.
To this must be added the presence of Robert Bloch, author of "Psycho" and collaborator of Hitchcock, that always to modern man, suggests a possible development.
To talk about the effectiveness of this story written by Robert Bloch and William Castle, we should go back in time, or at least read old reviews. The first hypothesis does not yet seem possible and so we can only read the old opinions. In addition, we must say that "Strait-Jacket" had not good reviews. The good Bosley Crowther did not like it and on "New York Times" wrote "A disgusting piece of claptrap" and "The story is utterly invalid, psychologically and dramatically and William Castle's direction and production are on the cheapest, sleaziest side”. Heavy words, which, apart for a banal story for us, we cannot really share altogether. We appreciate William Castle, clever director good artisan of FX. However, the severed heads, backbone of the plot, are not credible, and the scenes of violence are limited to images in the background. And we appreciate William Castle skillful storyteller, able to tell stories by building an elegant frame with a slow but inexorable rise. And this is the best part, which makes us appreciate despite the little realism, this movie.
To add value to its elegant narrative, a cast does a good job in creating characters. Classic characters, stereotyped, but functional to the story, with Joan Crawford, the star of the film, in great shape, whose performance is the only thing that the critics at the time appreciate.
In a period when the thriller/horror movies attract famous names the actor of "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?" (among many other things), plays Lucy a woman who discovers her husband (played by Lee Majors at debut) in bed with another woman. Her reaction is extreme. With an ax beheading both.
Locked up in a psychiatric clinic, Lucy returns home several years later. Her daughter is now grown up and would like to marry the rich Micheal. However, the return of Lucy in the house reopens the old problems and especially the heads start to roll again.
With the usual manners of the time and of the William Castle’s movies (which gives as gimmick a card with an ax) we see a story where there the usual funny director irony. Because often it seems that, everyone would do to race to do or say things that recall the beheading or the murders. Glaring gaffe for a film that is not to be thrown away, but it is not even the best of American director.