Dead Stars and Their Death Cars

DATELINE: MOVIE MASHUP!

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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.

 

 To read all of Ossurworld’s reviews, go to Amazon .com where you will find ALFRED HITCHCOCK FRESHLY SHOWERED and MOVIE MASHUP available in softcover.

 

Parkland Hospital’s Point of View

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As Parkland Hospital doctors, Colin Hanks and Zac Efron may surprise you with their performances.

DATELINE: MOVIE HISTORY

With the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John Kennedy, there have been a few minor movies to mark the occasion. Fictionalized film really is nowhere near as compelling as pseudo-documentaries on conspiracy theories.

Yet, this small film takes a look at the helpless doctors and nurses who came face to face with historical horror in their emergency room. It provides a new twist on an old tale that fewer and fewer people actually remember. We were in the Harvard Yards, eerily and unusually quiet when someone ran past us to say at 2pm the President was dead, shot. Like many others, we first disbelieved it.

Life in America was never the same after that moment.

Fifty years is a long time, and the generation that lived the experience and could tell truth from fiction may have soon lost their memories and their minds, unable to tell us whether movies like this can be taken seriously as history or art.

Parkland, starring Zac Efron as a young intern, rises to the challenge. The scenes all seem familiar, yet fresh too. These are the moments before camcorders were mounted everywhere to catch every private moment. You can easily forget that and believe what you see is 100% accurate.

The film becomes the ultimate History Channel re-enactment. It is emotional and depicts the anguish and shock felt by the doctors and nurses at Parkland. It details the personal suffering of Abraham Zapruder who filmed the moment of the murder. It displays the Secret Service and FBI agents who felt guilt they had failed to do their jobs.

This is a remarkable little film with Billy Bob Thornton, Paul Giamatti, and Marcia Gay Harden, giving extraordinary performances. Jacki Weaver plays Oswald’s nutcase mother with a vengeance, and James Badge Dale acts as Robert Oswald with understated dignity.

Mixed with archival footage, this behind-the-scenes drama compels and hypnotizes even if we know the overall outcome. Paul Landesman usually writes movies, but this is his first effort at directing. He has our attention.

 

 For an interesting backstory on Lee Harvey Oswald’s youth, mother, and sibling, you may want to read BOOTH AND OSWALD that compares two assassins in their boyhoods from hell. Available on Amazon.com in softcover and ebook format.