A Very Funny Film
I have never seen a Jayne Mansfield movie before. I just remember the title of this movie as the answer to a trivia question in a scene from Spies Like Us. I'm an unabashed Marilyn Monroe fan and always considered Mansfield a lesser product.
I was wrong. She is gorgeous, talented, and a great comedic actress. More than Monroe ever was, Mansfield has impeccable comedic timing. I also read that she had a genius IQ and was frustrated by being thought of as only a sexpot...which is reflected in the satirical tone of this movie.
Mansfield plays Jerri Jordan, the girlfriend of gangster "Fats" Murdock. Jerri just wants to be a housewife and take care of a family. Murdock wants her to be a star so he convinces down-on-his-luck agent, Tom Miller, played by Tom Ewell, to make it so. Tom initially is reluctant as he is still pining for his ex-girlfriend, singer/actress Julie London played by...well, Julie London, as a ghost from Tom's past. (I remember Ms. London from her role on TV's Emergency. She was gorgeous and a talented singer in her own right.) The always reliable Henry Jones is Murdock's driver/assistant/ investigator who has a soft spot for romance.
Tom tries to explain he wants no part of turning some dame into a star. Then he turns around and sees Jerri standing in the doorway. As entrances go, Mansfield makes an impactful one. She is breathtaking in a tight-fitting white gown and lots of cleavage. I have to admit, I was a bit breathless.
Tom, of course, changes his mind and takes the job. He goes on a pretty brilliant marketing campaign building up Jerri as a star no one has heard of. Over time, Murdock begin to suspect Tom and Jerri are developing feelings for each other. Ironically, Tom is playing hands off as he knows Murdock might kill him for touching the "goods". The more Murdock obsesses, the more he drives Jerri and Tom together and eventually they do form a romance. There is a great running gag that Jerri can't sing so Tom has another artist sing the song and Jerri just screams a siren sound at various points in the song. The song goes to number one just because of that scream.
Mansfield is pretty good at the light comedy. Its a shame she died so young because she would have been a brilliant actress over time. She was every bit Monroe's equal in stage presence and beauty, but she was a better actress and didn't have quite the tormented psyche of Monroe. Ewell as Miller is sort of miscast. He is too old to be a love interest for Mansfield, but I guess that was standard in movies, even then. I didn't believe in their romance. However, the relationship between Miller and Murdock was great. They had a pretty good chemistry. Their scenes sparkled with wit and comedy.
The ending left me kind of disappointed. It felt disjointed and tacked on. They needed a happy ending so they just tacked one on regardless of whether it made sense or not. That was the only part of the movie where I felt let down.
I watched this movie as a double bill with "Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter" and I'm glad I did. Mansfield was a treat.
My memory foam pillow says it can't remember my face. I can tell its lying.