American horror thriller film starring Joan Crawford and Diane Baker
in a macabre mother and daughter tale about a series of axe-murders.
Released by Columbia Pictures, the film was directed and produced by William Castle,
and co-produced by Dona Holloway. The screenplay was the first of two written for Castle by
Robert Bloch,(Psycho) the second being The Night Walker (1964). Strait-Jacket marks the first big-screen appearance of Lee Majors in the uncredited role of Crawford's husband.
The film's plot makes use of the psychological abuse method known as gaslighting.
After the success of What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962), Joan Crawford and other older actresses, including Bette Davis and Barbara Stanwyck, made numerous horror movies throughout the 1960s. Strait-Jacket is one of the more notable examples of the genre sometimes referred to as psycho-biddy or Grande Dame Guignol. During the film's original release, moviegoers were given little cardboard axes as they entered the theater. At the end of the closing credits, the Columbia logo's torch-bearing woman is shown in her traditional pose, but decapitated,
with her head resting at her feet on her pedestal.
Crawford replaced Joan Blondell in the role of Lucy Harbin after Blondell was injured at home prior to shooting and could not fulfill her commitment. Crawford's negotiations included script and cast approval, a $50,000 salary, and 15 percent of the profits. Anne Helm, who was originally cast in the role as Carol, was replaced by Diane Baker, reportedly at Crawford's insistence. Baker and Crawford had appeared together in the film The Best of Everything (1959).