Mansfield 66/67 is a deliciously camp and funny romp by filmmaker married duo Todd Hughes and P. David Ebersole that is loosely based on the life of Hollywood pin-up and blonde bombshell Jayne Mansfield. They make a point of stating right from the start that their documentary is based on press cuttings and rumors and vague reminiscences of the film star’s roller coaster life, most of which are more than a tad scandalous.
They skillfully mixed archival footage with talking heads of people who knew/worked with her such as Kenneth Anger and Mamie Van Doren. They also talked to a very odd assortment of ‘B’ & ‘C’ list celebrities such as the punk singer Marilyn and drag queen Peaches Christ who are too young to have known her, but seemed to be more than a tad obsessed with her legend. Strangely enough the only real voice of reason about the Mansfield phenomenon was filmmaker John Waters who in his usual sardonic manner dismissed some of the more outrageous rumors for being blatantly untrue
Jayne Mansfield’s short lived movie career in the mid 1950’s was very successful and included several major box office hits, one of which won her a Golden Globe Award. 20th Century Fox were grooming her to be another Marilyn Monroe, but when she kept having babies and was so often unavailable they stopped offering her any more major roles. In 1963 when her move career was almost over they cast her in the sexploitation film Promises! Promises! and she became the first major American actress to have a nude starring role in a Hollywood motion picture.
The documentary mainly focused on Mansfield’s life after the studios had dropped her, and she become even more of a real publicity fiend … there is even a clip of her saying that the public have a right to know all about her private life. Encouraged by her string of husbands and boyfriends, she did some very questionable stunts like having ‘wardrobe malfunctions’ that would expose her enormous breasts when there were paparazzi cameras around to record it.
One of her major fixations that Mansfield had was with the First Church of Satan founder Anton LeVay who hawked himself as the leader of powerful demonic cult, but wearing what looked a cast-off costume from The Adams Family, he looked about as scary as Mickey Mouse. Waters dismissed this ‘relationship’ as laughable and something that only two publicity whores like this would concoct together. However LeVay had a major falling out with Mansfield’s lawyer/boyfriend Sam Brody and very publicly put a curse on him saying that he would meet his end in an automobile accident.
Whether the curse was anymore than here-say was never proved but the fact that he and Mansfield were killed in a particular nasty car crash in 1967 has been the subject of many salacious tabloid stories, most of which wrongfully claim that she had been decapitated which is definitely not true.
The documentary clearly never set out to tell the full story of Mansfield’s very colorful life that went through so many incarnations and is probably enough to fill a whole mini-series. It does however play with a few of the more outrageous facts attributed to her life as one of the last Hollywood old-fashioned sex symbols, and hints that there was a great deal of untapped substance to this tall busty women who was so much more than just another dumb blonde.
Hughes and Ebersole have a great deal of fun concocting this rather bizarre and totally fascinating hybrid of a film, and whilst most of its elements work so well, some fall rather flat on their face. Why they opted to add a Greek chorus in sappy blonde wigs doing campy music routines throughout was sort of lost in the translation. However despite that, this oddball movie is wickedly funny for most of the time and will be loved by anyone who likes their cinematic treats as to be as weird as hell.