Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: David Burke, Veronica Cartwright, Sam Pancake, Victor Raider-Wexler, Matt Letscher
Director: Richard Day
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Gay & Lesbian
Studio: Tla Releasing Release Date: 01/29/2008 Run time: 96 minutes Rating: Nr
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Clever social satire
Roland E. Zwick | Valencia, Ca USA | 07/12/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Straight-Jacket" is a very funny satire showing what it must have been like for closeted homosexual actors living and working in Hollywood in the 1950`s (and who`s to say it`s really that much better now?). Matt Letscher stars as Guy Stone, a matinee idol along the lines of Rock Hudson, who leads a tricky double life. To the public at large he's a macho superstar heartthrob, the fantasy love object of women the world over, all of whom dream of being the one to finally strip him of his status as filmdom`s "most eligible young bachelor." In his private life, he spends most of his time prowling the bar scene for the next available hunk. In fact, Guy is so shallow that he doesn't even bother to learn the names of the star-struck men he sleeps with. Desperate to get the lead role in the upcoming epic "Ben-Hur," Guy agrees to enter into a sham marriage with a naïve young secretary working at the studio (she is unaware of Guy`s sexuality and believes he actually loves her). Soon we're deep into a laugh-filled version of "Far From Heaven," with Guy struggling to maintain interest in his new heterosexual lifestyle, a charade that becomes even more difficult after he meets the man of his dreams, an idealistic young writer named Rick Foster, who makes Guy think twice about the life of deceit he's leading.
Director Richard Day has written a script (based on his own stage play) filled with lacerating wit, hilarious puns (starting with the title of the movie and the name of the main character) and absurdist situations. He casts a scathing eye not only on anti-gay prejudice but on Tinsel Town phoniness, Red-baiting and superficial relationships as well. The movie shimmers with the bright, shiny look of `50's films, while the sets and costumes capture the period with rib-tickling fidelity (Guy`s peeling himself off a plastic, slip-covered sofa is priceless). The actors are all wonderful in their roles, particularly Letscher as Guy, Carrie Preston as his perfect little wife, Victor Raider-Wexler as the studio head and, above all, Veronica Cartwright (the young girl in "The Birds"), absolutely hilarious as Guy's understanding but pragmatic agent whose job it is to make sure Guy's career and hers don't suddenly come crashing down in flames around them.
"Straight-Jacket" is really a story about a man's coming to terms with reality, accepting himself for who he is, and changing society a little bit for the better in the process - with the Red Scare references serving mainly as allegorical allusions to the homophobia of today. This thematic layering is what makes "Straight-Jacket" one of the sharpest and most thoughtful movie comedies in a long time.
Inside Hollywood: Comedy about the Sobering McCarthy Era
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 06/24/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"STRAIGHT JACKET began as a play by writer/director Richard Day and Day transforms this bit of fluff about Hollywood and its foibles and hidden secrets in the 1950s with the panache that true comedy must have: verisimilitude. The look of the film within a film has the constant appearance of being 'on camera' and that bit of execution makes the film really work.
Day deals with issues such as closeted gay actors and actresses, film moguls with an eye on the buck more than on art, the sub rosa gay scene of the time (pre Stonewall) among others. Though there is some parody on the life of Rock Hudson it is only a sidebar.
Guy Stone (Matt Letscher) is a handsome, successful movie star, with a devoted female audience, who gives the public appearance of being straight while carrying on a wild but anonymous gay sex life. His agent Jerry (Veronica Cartwright) struggles to keep him in tow, always aware that should his sexual preference become public that his acting career would be over. When Guy is photographed en flagrante Jerry decides that the story must not leak, a story which would prevent his obtaining the role of Ben Hur, and convinces Guy to quickly get married - the most available 'wife' would be the ditzy, star struck secretary Sally (Carrie Preston) whose boss Saul (Victor Raider-Wexler) agrees as a solution.
Once married Guy discovers Sally's obsession with being a 1950s wife complete with the tacky re-do of his pad, drowning him in affection, and ...preventing him from his nightly sojourns into the gay world. Guy meets procommunist writer Rick Foster (Adam Greer) who has written Guy's latest film, a script that must be doctored to pass McCarthyisms. They do the courtship dance and eventually actually fall in love, much to Guy's consternation! The political and conscientious differences between the two are forgotten until their pairing is discovered. Guy is asked to go before the TV cameras to confess his homosexuality (which the McCarthyites equate with Communism) and to give names of others who are of like nature.
At this point the film becomes poignant and the manner in which the films is resolved is best left to the surprise of the viewer. While some may feel this 'change of direction' in a comedy is melodramatic, others will see the conclusion as a meaningful resolution that maintains that 'comedy' is just the other side of the mask of 'tragedy'.
The sets and costumes and flow of the film are quite well done, successfully transporting us to the dazzle of the Fifties and the many mindless motion pictures that flooded the screens. The individual actors are good with especial kudos to Veronica Cartwright who can toss away one-liners with the aplomb of the best of comediennes. Carrie Preston is wholly convincing as the platinum blonde fluff head and delivers a song very well. While Letscher and Greer perform well there is no magic in their bond, even after their true feelings are revealed: they remain uninvolved with each other as actors so there is little to no sexual tension. The musical score is just this side of atrocious but it suits the era. In all, this is an entertaining if overlong film with an important re-enactment of a scary time in Hollywood that meanders a bit too much for the final punch it could have had. Grady Harp, June 05"
I always say, without my fans I'd be no better than they are
M. J Leonard | Silver Lake, Los Angeles, CA United States | 06/07/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"There are some considerable guilty pleasures in Straight-Jacket. The film is great to look at, with its high camp, digitally created Technicolor quality, which beautifully evokes period detail. Actual footage from Los Angeles in the 1950's is cleverly inserted into the film, so viewers get a real sense of what the city was like back then.
Straight Jacket also is snappy and fast-paced, featuring several funny characters and an often-frenzied verbal interaction between them. But the problem is that the film is terribly uneven and tries far to hard to make a political statement about homophobia when it doesn't really have to.
As a satire, the film is often delightfully acerbic and catty, the jokes flying fast and furious, with every role played with the right level of tasteless and humorous gusto. But when the film starts to take itself too seriously, drawing parallels between McCarthy's hunt for Communists and America's hunt for homosexuals; it shifts from social satire to social importance, and eventually looses steam and focus.
Straight Jacket is set in 1950s, at a time when America was afraid of Communists, and where gays were deeply closeted and frightened of Joe McCarthy. Guy Stone (Matt Letscher) is one of Hollywood's leading men and also one of their most eligible bachelors. He's a chiseled chunk of matinee-idol arrogance, beguiling everyone with a seductive smile and captivating his fans with a breezy non-threatening shallowness. He also has a dark secret - he's very gay.
Guy's fans have no idea that he has a liking for seamy gay bars, and one-night stands. So his manager Jerry (a riotous Veronica Cartwright) and SRO Studio boss Saul (Victor Raider-Wexler) find themselves in a bit of a bind. They're concerned that even a whiff of scandal will sabotage Guy's efforts to land the lead in SRO's upcoming sword-and-sandal epic Ben-Hur.
His chief competition is hokey B-actor Freddie Stevens (Jack Plotnick). The scheming Freddie is determined to get the lead, so he 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.
Victor (Michael Emerson) a droll, entertaining valet looks after Guy at home. But when Sally moves in things begin to change. She's clinging, insatiable and domineering, with appalling taste in furniture; Sally is Guy's worst nightmare of a wife and he's absolutely horrified when the morning after the wedding he wakes up beside her. He complains, "She's terrible; she's a total bottom."
But the arranged marriage does the trick and Guy's career is back until he falls in love with Rick Foster (Adam Greer), the Communist-leaning screenwriter who has been employed to get all that "communist rubbish" out of Guy's latest star vehicle: a movie adaptation of Rick's play Blood Line.
Rick is left-wing, poor and literary, whereas Guy is vacuous, moneyed and capitalistic. Despite this they confess undying love for one another, and Guy gradually begins to come out. Their affair, however, puts Guy's total career and jeopardy and he has to make a choice between his love for Rick or his glamorous life as a movie star.
Straight-Jacket is loud and raucous and often plays out more like a late night sketch comedy than as a fully-fledged movie. The sit-com antics and the bawdy one liners are all lots of fun for the first hour, but the bad acting, combined with the fact that Greer and Letscher have next to no chemistry together, ultimately takes it's toll on the story. It has some fun moments though and there are definitely some laughs, but the tendency towards melodrama, especially in the last half, and a silly climax that seems tacked on will probably exhaust most viewers. Mike Leonard June 05.
Great Gay Comedy
C. Crawford | Baton Rouge, LA | 01/19/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This HAS to be my favorite gay comedy....ever!! The acting is superb and with the bonus features on the DVD, you can see the lengths at which the director went to, to produce a film that looks like the '50's, but, plays to a 21st Century crowd. The lead character, based on a Rock Hudson kind of actor in the 1950's is different in that this character never tries to hide his sexuality. Everyone else in the film is trying to hide his sexuality and he eventually is married off to a dim witted secretary who relishes in the role of being the wife of a film star. As the movie progresses, the love between the actor and the writer of the film takes over. These two guys look great together and without giving away any plot lines, there IS a happy ending. The comedy, especially when "Stone", the Rock Hudson type character is trying to find out whether the writer is gay or not is priceless. There was one scene that was shot for about 9 minutes straight. It took days, but the director wanted a seamless scene. Again....priceless. If you are a lover of gay cinema, this film is a MUST for your collection. If you don't laugh throughout, you have no pulse. Enjoy!"