Mansfield 66/67 (2017) Poster

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More Substantive Than the Promos Suggest
gavin694223 October 2017
"Mansfield 66/67" is about the last two years of movie goddess Jayne Mansfield's life, and the rumors swirling around her untimely death being caused by a curse, after her alleged romantic dalliance with Anton LaVey, head of the Church of Satan.

While I typically don't get personal in my reviews, I feel it is necessary in this case. I spent a few years in the 1990s deeply entrenched in the world of Anton LaVey. While not a Satanist by any stretch of the imagination, I read everything he ever wrote, as well as a number of books about him. He was a known charlatan and plagiarist, but still fascinating just the same. At one point, he was even investigated regarding a plot to kill Ted Kennedy.

The folks behind this documentary are just the right sort of people for the job. The celebrated "Room 237" is an interesting documentary in that it never lies (thus being an objective document), but covers the theories of some people who are clearly far off-case from anything Stanley Kubrick would have intended. This sets them up nicely to create a film examining the myths, rumors and innuendo surrounding someone the filmmakers describe as "the king-sized over-the-top punked-out Marilyn Monroe who became the ultimate atomic-era sex-kitten-gone-berserk".

In actuality, this film is far more grounded in reality than one might expect from its premise or promotional material. Early on, we learn about who Mansfield was and what her place was in the wider context of sexuality in the 1960s. Given that her death was now 50 years ago, this is a good place to start – some people will have forgotten and far more may no longer have any idea who she was, even if the name sounds vaguely familiar.

Amazingly, the film even gives a fair description of LaVey and his motives. Using selective interviews, one could easily play up the persona he was going for, but the film never does that and prefers to show him for whom he really was: a showman. Even the so-called Satanism expert makes no claim that LaVey had any connection to Satan. Kenneth Anger makes some minor hints, but that is the closest we come. Even the idea that he could have cast a curse is more or less dispelled. (Under LaVey's version of "Satanism" there is no literal devil and no such thing as curses, so even the suggestion he could do such a thing is outlandish.)

Was Jayne Mansfield "beheaded"? As the film shows, this story began already on day one and the legend only grew over time (as Hollywood legends tend to do). Even this tale, which has some credible sources, is effectively debunked by the person who would probably know best: her undertaker. While he could cash in with some grisly details, he does no such thing. And his word is, for me, the last word.

For the most part, the "plot" is the life story of Jayne Mansfield, from her early success, through bad marriages, to her untimely death. But there are a few unexpected side stories. I was not aware of Tippi Hedren's connection to "The Exorcist", for example, or of the mauling by lion of both Jayne's son Zoltan and Melanie Griffith (Hedren's daughter).

There are two minor nitpicks I have with the film. First of all, it runs a bit short for a feature film. 85 minutes is a good length, but it only achieves this by having long credits and plenty of fluffy padding. The "real" running time is closer to 60 minutes. Second, it would have benefited greatly by including interviews with Jayne's children or ex-husbands. Matt Cimber is still alive and is given no chance to defend himself from his negative portrayal here. All five children, so far as I know, are still living, an surely could have added an interesting perspective.

Overall, this was a fascinating retrospective and the creators were able to dig up some great footage of both Mansfield and LaVey that I've never seen elsewhere. Anyone interested in the Hollywood of the 1960s, the San Francisco counter-culture movement or anything a little offbeat will surely profit by seeing this film. Opens in theaters October 27, 2017.
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Cut&paste waste of time pointless paean (insult?) to JM memory
Bofsensai1 December 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Just had to add in another review – since 'gavin' earlier already does it well - but having just seen this at our local 'Night Vision's event (yep, presumably named after W.Craven's film?), mainly to warn anyone reading before seeing first, DO NOT WASTE YOUR MONEY: wait 'til somehow 'otherwise' available.

I rarely ever walk out of films, but eventually, when it came down to being more like merely a minor documentary on A. LaVey's bloody lion pets … I'd had enough.

This is lazy, lazy doc making - almost worthy of the contemporaneous to JM's time, scurrilous based on nothing, 'Confidential' mag reporting: virtually only cut and paste newspaper articles throughout interspersed with various talking heads merely speculating - admittedly some of those interesting to see in themselves (e.g. Mamie van Doren - the third 'M' along with Jayne and Monroe to the period, so genuine observer to) - yet all with virtually zero - or less! - knowledge on JM herself, along with so short (presumably to circumvent credit fees?) blink and ya'll miss 'em clips of JM's films - and some others of somehow, forced associated relevance (just!).

Oh, and then padded out (further!) with some sort of second rate cabaret dance troupe dancing out the 'development' of JM's impending tragedy: Although, perhaps of passing interest, is a short sixties style (pastiche?) Hanna Barbara like cartoon animated sequence .. and that's about it!

A disservice and discredit to the lost Ms Mansfield's memory: shame on the compiler / makers: thoroughly disappointing bilge!
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Jayne and Anton
Michael_Elliott20 November 2017
Mansfield 66/67 (2017)

*** (out of 4)

This documentary is being sold as something that takes a look at the last couple years in the life of Jayne Mansfield but the truth of the matter is that the documentary takes a look at whether or not she was a Satanist and whether Anton LaVey had put a curse on her that led to her death.

MANSFIELD 66/67 is a rather strange documentary but there's no question that it's quite entertaining in its own way. If people are expecting something taking a look at her films or various other things she was doing during this period then they might be disappointed. These items are briefly covered but the main focus of the picture is on her relationship with LaVey on what curse he might have put on her.

For the most part this is an entertaining documentary that has some nice interviews but I think it was a bit over-directed. I say that because there are some animated sequences as well as a lot of clips from movies in no way connected to Mansfield. I thought this took away from the story a bit as they didn't add anything. With that said, it's still fun to see the dark side of her final two years as the film obviously wants to help add to the myth of her dying young.
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