Mansfield 66 / 67 Review: A documentary that seeks to uncover the truth behind Jane Mansfield’s supposed links to the occult.
Jayne Mansfield lived a very flamboyant and controversial lifestyle, dominating the box-office as Hollywood’s biggest sex symbol. Directors P. David Ebersole and Todd Hughes are the latest to tackle her story for the silver screen, with Mansfield 66/67.
The infamous and hotly debated life Mansfield is one that always makes for an interesting film subject. Mansfield 66/67 takes us back to Babylon and recounts the last two years of our eponymous Femme Fatale’s life in a film that is part documentary, part musical, and part recreation of events; Ebersole and Hughes intersperse episodes from her life with inclusions from various commentators and experts on Mansfield and big musical numbers and even some animation to tell the story of her relationship with Anton LaVey – the founder of the Church of Satan. The pair had a very unlikely, off-kilter dynamic – two polar opposites; described as “Beauty and the Beast”. It’s a fascinating story and Ebersole and Hughes explore it deftly with vigour.
There is a lot of fun to be had with Mansfield 66/67; the story and ideas behind Mansfield and her relationship with LaVey make for such riveting viewing and this film pops. Visually, it’s a delight; the colour-palette is vibrant and pulpy and there is an energy to the bright, lurid aesthetic. From a visual standpoint, this film is stylish, colourful and pretty. There is a slick, polished feel to the film; it boasts a very meticulous verve. The musical numbers the film has, though, are perhaps the weakest elements of the film; they’re lacklustre in choreography and just fall flat – they’re cringey and underwhelming; poorly directed and mawkishly presented. The animated sequences, too, boast an irreverence that can perhaps be frustrating at times, given the weight of the topic on hand.
In the end, Mansfield 66/67 is a very solid and entertaining – if a little frenetic and all over the place – exploration of the infamous legacy of the much revered Jayne Mansfield. Directors Ebersole and Hughes take an unequivocal, unique approach here and one that is refreshing to see; it peers into this story from a very different angle than prior Mansfield films have done in the past. It wears its heart on its sleeve and is rollicking good fun at times, but – at others – also brings the necessary weight and edge to the material on hand and sheds some pensive, poignant light on Mansfield and her various relations very expertly. The execution of it all can perhaps be a little shoddy and convoluted at times, but the material is so well-researched and founded with such passion and precision that it makes a case for checking this film out.
Mansfield 66 / 67 review by Awais Irfan, August 2017.
Mansfield 66 / 67 is currently playing as part of the Horror Channel Frighfest 2017 programme.