Inside Out 2017 Review: MANSFIELD 66/67, The Wild Last Years of Hollywood Icon Jayne Mansfield And Her Dance With The Devil

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Inside Out 2017 Review: MANSFIELD 66/67, The Wild Last Years of Hollywood Icon Jayne Mansfield And Her Dance With The Devil
P. David Ebersole and Todd Hughes, producers of Rodney Ascher’s documentary Room 237, about Kubrick’s movie The Shining, delve once again into cult cinema and culture. In their own documentary Mansfield 66/67 they explore the relationship between one of Hollywood’s most famous blonde bombshells, Jayne Mansfield, and one of the world’s most infamous Satanists, Anton LaVey. Throughout 1966 and 1967 Mansfield would spend a lot of time with LaVey and after her untimely death on June 28th, 1967 rumors surfaced that LaVey had put a curse on her which resulted her death. Mansfield 66/67 explores this curious relationship that ended tragically one dark night on a road between Biloxi and New Orleans. 
The structure of Mansfield 66/67 is a story told in seven parts through a wondrous and delirious mix of archival footage, recreations, dance and stage numbers, even animation. Simply put, there is no shortage of fun ways by which this film engages with its audience. When it is said, ‘this is a story you would only find in a Hollywood movie’ the tales and the rumors about the relationship between Mansfield and LaVey could have been the template. It is a story so completely bonkers that it just has to be true. 
At the beginning of their documentary a title card reads ‘a true story based on rumor and hearsay’. The first chapter introduces Mansfield to the audience, a refresher for some, a beginner’s course for the rest of us. We see her rise in Hollywood as one of its more ro’bust’ characters. Apart from her ‘assets’ there is her trademark squeal and the pink Cadillac and her home, the pink castle. Then there were her marriages and relationships, some great, others not so much. She was also the first actress to appear in the nude in a mainstream production in the 1963 film Promises! Promises! But despite her obvious sex appeal she was not at all a dumb blonde, but a well educated and intelligent woman. 
As the subsequent chapters go on Ebersole and Hughes dig deep into the memories and expertise of academics, critics and industry professionals. They seek out the opinions and recollections of other iconic figures like filmmakers John Waters and Kenneth Anger, from femme fatales Dolly Read and Mamie Van Doren, to drag performer Peaches Christ and androgynous 80s popstar Marilyn. It is a lineup of interesting and eye-popping figureheads from that era and those influenced by Mansfield’s career. 
We learn more about Mansfield’s desperation to stay in the spotlight and in the mind of the American public, how she bounced from religions and faiths almost as much as she bounced from town to town making public appearances at grocery stores. She would eventually fall in with LaVey and visit his black home in San Francisco, a lot. So frequently that everyone began to question what was really going on between those two behind closed doors. 
If there were a game show called ‘Know Your Satanists’ I would probably never win a round and leave the show with -666 points. There is little that I knew about LaVey apart from his connection to the Satanic Panic movement in the 80s, the era in which I grew up in. So his relationship with Mansfield through what would be the last two years of her life is utterly fascinating. I also did not know about LaVey’s connection with The Birds’ star Tippi Hedren and her animal conservation work later in her life, which is just the cherry on top of this bowl full of crazy. But wait until you see what LaVey was doing the night that Mansfield was killed in that car crash. So weird. 
It is possible that one may feel a twinge of guilt getting enjoyment from watching this unreal story unfold in Ebersole and Hughes’ documentary, for it only to end in tragedy. Yet, on the verge of the 50th anniversary of that fateful night there is still so much mystery about the relationship between Mansfield and LaVey; all we have is recollection and speculation. Rumor and hearsay as the doc stated at the beginning. 
Perhaps the saddest irony of it all is that for all of the work Mansfield did to stay relevant and in the American public eye she will never know of her bizarre legacy. Cut off at the age of 34 Mansfield could have had a long and successful career. She may or may not have ever faded into the twilight, into obscurity as her career would go on, as she feared. Ours is not to guess. Instead, what would be for some a blip on their radar, a couple of wild years with the wrong crowd, something that may have passed with time, a fad or a publicity stunt, it was for Mansfield a part of her final act. 
As the curtains drew to a close on Mansfield’s life that night they were more black than red. 
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