Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Saturday, June 29, 2013


STRAIGHT-JACKET (2004).Writer/director: Richard Day (based on his stage play).

"The main trait that separates my people from yours is that we mean you no harm."

Guy Stone (Matt Lescher) is a major movie star who is gay and in the closet. His agent, Jerry (Veronica Cartwright) and a producer convince Guy to play straight and get married to an adoring secretary, Sally (Carrie Preston). [Rock Hudson and Phyllis Gates, anyone?] But while Guy tries to maintain his usual lifestyle with an inquisitive and horny wife, he meets Rick (Adam Greer), the handsome and angry author whose book is being turned into Stone's latest movie, and the two fall in love. Then a scandal breaks, and Guy has to choose whether he wants the man or his career. This probably was cute enough as a play, where one could relate to the actors right on stage in front of you, but its "queeny" gay humor is a little passe [jokes about Judy Garland and transvestism!] and the only thing that makes you realize this is supposed to take place during the McCarthy era is the occasional hairstyle -- there is absolutely no period atmosphere whatsoever, and the characters talk more as if it were the 21st century than the 1950's -- Day should have done a little research, for Pete's sake. The picture goes completely awry at the end when Guy is questioned as to whether or not he is a "homosexual communist." There are disturbing pot shots at lesbians, one of whom is actually played by a man in drag! While she is miscast, Veronica Cartwright [of Alien] as Guy's agent at least resists playing her character like a butch stereotype. The other actors are all well-cast and on target, however, with Lescher doing a wonderful balancing act between serious and farce, and Greer and Preston equally good. The movie has some amusing bits and some good lines but it's a shame that such an interesting premise had to be turned into what is basically a 90 minute sitcom like the awful Will and Grace. I mean, even today there are plenty of movie stars in the closet.

Verdict: Nice idea; so-so execution, but most of the actors are solid. **1/2.


angelman66 said...

Just watched this on the Here network last week - I agree with your critique totally. Nice idea, good actors, but just not compelling enough. Not quite funny enough to be a spoof, and not enough nitty-gritty to be believable. Incidentally, I first watched Paul Ryan's Legends from Here interview with Rock Hudson, which led me to try this film. The Pul Ryan interview is fascinating...Mr. Hudson is extremely guarded and uncomfortable in this 1979-80 interview. Much more subtext than in Straight-Jacket...

William said...

Thanks for the info and the comments. I've no doubt that interview got things across better than this movie did.