DATELINE: MOVIE MASHUP!
Quoting Jack Paar: “Here they are.”
Poor Jayne Mansfield was the poor man’s Marilyn Monroe in the 1950s. Her demise was more horrific than Marilyn. With less talent and better publicity, she gave Monroe a run as a matching sexpot. But Jayne took the prize with her spectacular death.
Her ignominious end in a ugly car accident has become the stuff of legend, including a hideous photo in one of Kenneth Anger’s Hollywood legend books. She was not decapitated, but lost the top of her head. Poor Jayne.
Cary Grant made movies with both Marilyn and Jayne. The movie with Marilyn was one of his best, and the movie with Jayne was one of his worst. That was Jayne’s luck.
Now she has been given posthumous attention in a movie about completely unrelated people after the death car started touring, like James Dean’s crumpled Porsche, the hinterlands.
That brings us to Jayne Mansfield’s Car, starring Robert Duvall, John Hurt, Kevin Bacon, and Robert Patrick. It is not only low rent Tennessee Williams, but it may be pretzel-twisted Faulkner. Jayne is there for window dressing.
Written, produced, directed, and starring Billy Bob Thornton, the film tells the story of a patriarch (Duvall) whose wife ran off with an Englishman (Hurt) years before. At her death the Brit husband brings the body back to Alabama.
How does Jayne fit in? As in life and movies, she is used for a little sensation, titillation, and is cast aside in a short scene where the two old men visit a traveling show that featured her death car to have some small talk.
Poor Jayne. She deserves better.
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