The 2004 Movie: Straight Jacket

This was the promotional website for the 2004 movie, Straight Jacket. Straight-Jacket was directed by Richard Day. Day also wrote the screenplay which was adapted from his off-Broadway play of the same name. At the Rotten Tomatoes website the film received a lowly rating on the Tomato Meter. Critics gave the film a 48% approval rating while the Audience gave it a 45% rating.

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Straight Jacket
Rating:Unrated
Genre: Gay & Lesbian, Comedy
Directed By:   Richard Day
Written By: Richard Day
In Theaters: Mar 4, 2004 Wide
On DVD: Jun 21, 2005
Runtime: 1 hr. 36 min.


SYNOPSIS

An actor trying to keep the truth about his love life under wraps discovers feelings he doesn't want to hide in this frothy comedy. It's the mid-'50s, and Guy Stone (Matt Letscher) is a very successful movie star. Tall, good-looking, and boyishly charming, Stone has a reputation as a ladies' man with a very active love life.

However, the truth is a bit different: while Stone is indeed enjoying more romantic misadventures than he can keep track of, he happens to prefer the company of men. When a scandal sheet gets wind of his sexual proclivities, Stone's manager (Veronica Cartwright) and the head of his studio (Victor Raider-Wexler) decide some camouflage is in order.

Stone's handlers arrange for him to marry Sally (Carrie Preston), a sweet and naïve secretary from the studio who is entirely unaware that the man of her dreams is gay. As Stone tries to make the best of his sham marriage while feeling twinges of guilt about the toll it may take on Sally, he meets Rick Foster (Adam Greer), an author whose most recent novel is being adapted into a script for Stone.

To Stone's surprise, he find himself falling seriously in love with Foster and discovers that Foster, like himself, has a few secrets that could put his Hollywood career in jeopardy.

Straight-Jacket was directed by Richard Day, who also wrote the screenplay which was adapted from his off-Broadway play of the same name.

STRAIGHT JACKET MOVIE TRAILER

 

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STRAIGHT JACKET REVIEWS From Rotten Tomato & Other Sources

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Frank Scheck

December 23, 2004
Hollywood Reporter
Wastes its promising premise with a wavering tone that veers uneasily between camp humor and, pardon the expression, straightness.

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I'm not gay -- ask my wife / Satire echoes real-life story of Rock Hudson

By Mick LaSalle Published 4:00 am, Friday, January 7, 2005
Straight-Jacket: Comedy. Starring Matt Letscher and Carrie Preston. Directed by Richard Day. (Not rated. 96 minutes. At Bay Area theaters.

We've all met someone like this: Appealing, but insubstantial; likable, but not worthy, the kind of person who's charming for 10 minutes at a party but tiresome over dinner. Well, "Straight-Jacket" is the movie equivalent of that type of individual. It has verve, color and energy, but there's something fundamentally bogus about it, and whenever it takes a turn into seriousness, entire moments fall apart.

Yet to the extent that it's a satire, it has its moments, and it's intermittently amusing throughout. It stars Matt Letscher as Guy Stone, a 1950s matinee idol on the order of Rock Hudson. Like Hudson, he's gay, but only a small circle is aware of this. When the secret is out, and a newspaper is about to blow his cover, he does the one thing he can do to save his career. He gets married immediately to the first woman who's available, Sally (Carrie Preston), his boss' hapless secretary.

Sally is in love with Guy and has no idea he's gay, and for a while that's amusing. She's ecstatic and believes that he's in love with her, and her exuberance spills over into things like redecorating his home. She throws away expensive art pieces and brings in sofas with plastic covering. OK, funny enough.

But there's a big problem in the comic strategy: Writer-director Richard Day expects us to laugh with sympathy at Guy's horrendous predicament -- as though in marrying a woman under false pretenses and being forced to live with her, he's being inconvenienced by her. But she's the victim. In a sense, the filmmaker recognizes this by having characters occasionally acknowledge what a raw deal Sally is getting. But his comic impulses continue to come from a bizarre place. In one scene, Guy explains to his adoring wife that he doesn't want to share a room with her, ever, and the audience is supposed to side with him.

Then -- and here's where the movie collapses -- we're suddenly supposed to care when Guy, who has been established as an arrogant louse to his lovers and to his wife, suddenly decides that he's in love. He falls in love with a writer (Adam Greer), who, of course, looks like a model. The writer is also a Communist, which means we get a whole thing about the red- baiting witch hunts of the 1950s.

In a way, "Straight-Jacket" is rather like the disposable, interchangeable boyfriends that Guy has at the beginning of the film. Still, the actors go a decent way toward selling it. Letscher assumes the carriage, manner and stentorian delivery of a '50s idol, and Preston, as Sally, has a delightful zaniness and an arresting way of thinking on camera. Her face consistently registers a rapid succession of, not fixed emotions, but rather fluid half-formed impressions. She has a real talent for the close-up

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Laura Kelly

January 13, 2005
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
The perkiness with a capital P, gorgeous set and great color can't completely salvage an occasionally strong cast and middling story (and don't forget a lousy, if literal, title).

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David Noh

Film Journal International March 1, 2007<
On film, things play as flatly as any failed soufflé.


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Sean P. Means

Salt Lake Tribune February 25, 2005
Until it tries to mean something, Straight-Jacket is an enjoyably manic little farce whose wit far exceeds its production budget.
Original Score: ¾

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Jeff Vice

Deseret News, Salt Lake City February 25, 2005
At its best when it's sending up '50s-era Hollywood and it's at its worst when trying to make a serious point.
Original Score: 2/4

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Eric D. Snider

EricDSnider.com February 22, 2005
As satire, it is often deliciously barbed and catty, the jokes flying fast and furious ... but when it tries to make its points seriously, it immediately loses me.
Original Score: B-

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Jean Lowerison

San Diego Metropolitan January 15, 2005
Some of it is smart, much clever, most funny and all entertaining.

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Rene Rodriguez

Top Critic
Miami Herald January 14, 2005
It's a shame, then, that Straight-Jacket turns dour and melodramatic ... The light-hearted fun seeps out of the movie, replaced by trite interludes of coming-out angst, McCarthy-era persecution and even gay-bashing.
Original Score: 2/4


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Laura Kelly

South Florida Sun-Sentinel January 13, 2005
The perkiness with a capital P, gorgeous set and great color can't completely salvage an occasionally strong cast and middling story (and don't forget a lousy, if literal, title).
Original Score: 2/4

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David Elliott

San Diego Union-Tribune January 7, 2005<
Movies can never again be so corny, campy and PC clumsy as some of the howlers of the 1950s and '60s. But Straight-Jacket has a spiffy and gay (both senses) time joining the party.<
Original Score: 2.5

 

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Mick LaSalle

Top Critic
San Francisco Chronicle January 7, 2005
It has verve, color and energy, but there's something fundamentally bogus about it, and whenever it takes a turn into seriousness, entire moments fall apart.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4

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Robert K. Elder

 

Top Critic
Chicago Tribune January 6, 2005
Day's pyrotechnic dialogue and instinctive comic timing make Straight-Jacket a delight.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4

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Joe Leydon

 

Top Critic
Variety December 23, 2004
A fey and frisky farce with a fabulous fashion sense.
Full Review

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Frank Scheck

Top Critic
Hollywood Reporter December 23, 2004
Wastes its promising premise with a wavering tone that veers uneasily between camp humor and, pardon the expression, straightness.

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Stephen Holden

Top Critic
New York Times December 13, 2004
This featherweight spoof of closeted, Red-baiting Hollywood in the mid-1950's is played as such an exaggerated cartoon that its political outrage is dissipated by its stridency.
Original Score: 1/5


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Ken Fox

TV Guide's Movie Guide December 10, 2004
Though its heart is in the right place, everything gets tangled up in the film's lunacy.
Original Score: 2.5/5

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V.A. Musetto

Top Critic
New York Post December 10, 2004
Save your money and rent one of those old Hudson-Doris Day comedies instead.
Original Score: 1/4

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Edward Crouse

Top Critic
Village Voice December 7, 2004
Offers up a super-queered, tinny 1950s, one that plays loose and preachy with the Passion of Rock Hudson.<
Full Review

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Kevin Thomas

Top Critic
Los Angeles Times November 29, 2004
Whatever pleasures it holds, Straight-Jacket is highly uneven.<
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/5

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Annlee Ellingson

Boxoffice Magazine November 29, 2004

This clever confection adopts the genre conventions of the era's madcap romantic comedies and, later, melodramas for its tale about barely closeted movie star Guy Stone.
Original Score: 3/5

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Chuck Wilson

Top Critic
L.A. Weekly November 24, 2004
A Technicolor bliss-out.

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Cherryl Dawson and Leigh Ann Palone

TheMovieChicks.com November 24, 2004
A campy, fun, old-fashioned romp that's just a bit light in the loafers.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5

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Reviewed by:Ken Fox

TV Guide

Loosely based on closeted gay movie star Rock Hudson's Hollywood-orchestrated sham marriage to his agent's secretary, Phyllis Gates, writer-director Richard Day's kitschy, '50s-era comedy finds humor and considerable pathos in what was essentially a sad situation.

According to the gossip magazines, Hollywood heartthrob Guy Stone (Matt Letscher) is one of Tinseltown's most eligible bachelors, and they're right — if you're young, pretty and male. It's an open secret in the industry that Guy is gay, but his fans have no idea and Guy's taste for seamy gay bars and one-night stands has his manager Jerry (Veronica Cartwright) and SRO Studio boss Saul (Victor Raider-Wexler) in a twist. Guy's up for the lead in SRO's upcoming sword-and-sandal epic "Ben-Hur," and the slightest whiff of scandal — like the pinko aura that surrounds his chief competition, hophead B-actor Freddie Stevens (Jack Plotnick) — could put the kibosh on the whole deal.

When a scheming Freddie snaps a picture of Guy getting hauled off during a vice raid on a gay bar, Jerry knows it's time for serious damage control: Guy needs a wife, fast. And Saul's unsuspecting young secretary, Sally (firecracker Carrie Preston), is the perfect candidate. The arrogant and insincere Guy agrees, gets very, very drunk and wakes up the next morning a married man. Three weeks after the wedding, just as the Red Scare hysteria in Hollywood is reaching a fever pitch and Sally has completely redecorated Guy's luxe home through the Sears catalogue, the SRO front office orders hunky, lantern-jawed novelist Rick Foster (Adam Greer) to get all that "communist hooey" out of Guy's latest star vehicle: a movie adaptation of Rick's "Blood Line," a socialist novel about coal miners.

Though they couldn't be more different — Rick is young and idealistic, Guy jaded and shallow — they fall in love, once again putting Guy's image and his entire career in jeopardy. The film takes a surprising turn for the melodramatic with a scene that wouldn't be out of place in one of the moody tearjerkers Hudson made for director Douglas Sirk, and though its heart is in the right place, everything gets tangled up in the film's lunacy. Day, who adapted the script from his own stage play, is kinder here than he was in GIRLS WILL BE GIRLS (2003), his scathing spoof of Hollywood has-beens. Unfortunately, Day is funniest when he's at his bitchiest.

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Beefcake And Blacklists

by Michael D. Klemm
Posted online, July 2009
Gay Film Reviews

Straight-Jacket (2004), written and directed by Richard Day, is an uneven and very goofy, but well-meaning, comedy about the Hollywood closet and Red-baiting during the 1950's. Matt Letscher stars as Guy Stone, the leading matinee idol for SRO Films. Guy is handsome and popular, and beloved by millions. Women swoon over him and he's Hollywood's most eligible bachelor. He's also as queer as a three dollar bill.

Guy has everything. He has a big mansion in Beverly Hills and an ego to match. ("What's the point of being famous if you can't use it to get laid?") His agent is a very protective, and butch, woman named Jerry Albrecht (Veronica Cartwright) who is constantly denying that she is a lesbian ("Yes," says Guy, "and Agnes Moorehead is just a tomboy"). She has her hands full with damage control as Guy has probably slept with every stagehand, delivery boy and wannabe actor in town. Jerry has just re-negotiated his contract and Guy has won the lead in Ben Hur. But then he gets caught in a police raid at an underground gay bar.

Jerry, along with studio head, Saul Ornstein (Victor Raider-Wexler) come up with a hasty solution. Spin can be a wonderful thing; to placate the press, another actor is thrown to the wolves and Guy has to get married right now. A wedding is hastily arranged with Ornstein's ditzy secretary, Sally (Carrie Preston). Sally is kept in the dark about the deception but, because she has always had a major crush on the handsome star, she is clueless and immediately agrees. Guy is unable to stand being around her and, after she re-decorates his home, he agrees to make a movie about a coal mine strike in order to get out of the house until Ben Hur is ready to start filming.

he studio finds itself in hot water with the Feds because the movie is pro-union. A rewrite is demanded and at that moment Rick Foster (Adam Greer), the author of the book that the film is based on, visits the set. He is a hottie and Guy begins to salivate the moment he lays eyes on him. (Jerry grabs Guy and says, "Here, go play with the extras," when she sees Guy staring at the hunky writer.) Guy suggests to Rick that he do the re-write and invites him to his mansion to go over the script, after first making sure that Sally isn't there.

t turns out that Rick is gay too but he is a serious leftist writer who tells Guy that he is "everything that I make fun of." He plays hard to get but Guy is persistant. When Rick says that he doesn't mess around on the first date, Guy asks him "Are you sure you're gay?" Guy is not ready to give up his life of Hollywood glitz but the serious writer is beginning to have an effect on him. Guy's loyal but snooty (and gay) butler is impressed by the new beau and drolly tells Rick, "As a rule, Mr. Stone's little friends don't speak of books unless they want to color." Guy may be in love for the first time in his life but he has a sham wife to contend with and Rick is not amused by the charade.

Does the boy get the boy? Of course he does. Do they get caught with their pants down? What do you think? This is when the film shifts gears as an offer comes to sweep the whole ugly mess under the rug - provided that Guy "names names." If he does this, he will save his own neck and still get to play Ben Hur.

Straight-Jacket was inspired by actor Rock Hudson's brief arranged marriage during the 1950s. A secondary plot involves the communist (and homosexual) witch hunts from that dark decade. Filmed in widescreen Cinemascope, Straight-Jacket looks great and captures the style of films from the period complete with its gloriously tacky decor and bubbly music. The art directors must have had a blast; the faux movie posters trumpet several filmic in-jokes and I especially loved one for a B movie that invoked the poster to Ed Woods' Plan Nine From Outer Space. It's a fluffy comedy with a serious intent but...

...the film is strangely flat. Writer/director Richard Day has based the film on his play and my guess is that it was probably a hoot on stage. It is a campy romp, reminiscent of a Charles Busch play like Vampire Lesbians of Sodom or Psycho Beach Party. Unfortunately campy plays like this don't always translate well to cinema. It is too much of a cartoon and, instead of being wildly funny, much of it comes off as a bad sitcom instead. There are laughs but in between them are long stretches that fail to ignite. While it has its moments, it needed to be drastically re-written for the screen and its over-the-top acting toned down.

Matt Letscher is major league cute, clean cut with a Cary Grant cleft in his chin and he certainly looks the part of a 1950s movie star. Guy's arrogance is, at first, amusing but then grates on your nerves after awhile. Guy is a jerk but do we have to see jump up and down like a little kid singing "I get to play Ben Hur, I get to play Ben Hur?" The dialogue is sometimes too stilted and lacks the touch of, say, Paul Rudnick in his prime. Michael Emerson as Victor the butler, and Veronica Cartwright as the agent, give the best performances and their more subtle deliveries help to make their characters less caricaturish.

The witch hunt hysteria plotline is exaggerated, like everything else, but not by much (the investigator dreams of shutting down a movie studio). Things get a little more serious in the last act but these scenes are at odds with most of the buffoonery that came before. Martin Ritt's The Front (1976), starring Woody Allen and Zero Mostel, was a film about the McCarthy era that gets it right and proved that it is possible to explore the subject while balancing both the comedic and the serious (it helped that the director, writer and most of the cast were actually blacklisted during the 50s). As a popcorn or date movie there are worse ways to spend an hour and a half. There are a few laughs, a decent - if half-realised - storyline and lots of beefcake. Straight-Jacket is an amusing diversion and nothing more, nothing less.


StraightJacket-TheMovie.com