A documentary/biography/musical chronicling the final years and tragic death of camp cult icon Jayne Mansfield, Mansfield 66/67 is a must-watch for any self-respecting film buff; a love letter to the trashy B-movies of the 1960s that envelopes an intriguing tale of a unique woman surrounded by satanism and rumours. The legacy of the eponymous figure is the stuff of legend in cinematic circles, and this is the movie to satisfy your film fix.
Although the central thread of this documentary is to track Mansfield’s career and her involvement with Anton LaVey (the founder of the Church of Satan) to the tragic car crash that claimed her life, the picture is really about exploring the impact the late actress had on cinema, feminism and the underground art scene, a subject unpicked by a selection of filmmakers, actors and artists including iconic director John Waters (Pink Flamingos), Beyond the Valley of the Dolls actor Dolly Read and a number of film scholars who provide their own thoughts and insights on the star’s life. All of these combined perspectives help to make this more than just a retelling of legends, grounding the mythos firmly in reality.
It’s not just the subject matter and talking heads which connect the documentary to campy cult cinema; filmmakers P David Ebersole and Todd Hughes’ vision is drenched in trashy goodness – from kitsch dance numbers to quirky animated recreations of events. It’s during some of these segments, however, that the sound quality can take severe dips – though this could very well be part of the aesthetic to which the feature pays homage. Of course, if you aren’t a fan of this particular kind of movie, these sections may be difficult to sit through; but for those of us who already possess a fascination for the strange and artifice, this documentary is an utter delight. Even if the stylistic choices don’t appeal to you, the narrative and content surely will.
The final years of Mansfield and the impact she has had on cult film truly are the stuff of legend. Mansfield 66/67 not only does justice to this larger-than-life icon, but is an apt tribute to a particular brand of camp cinema that remains beloved to this day.
Mansfield 66/67 is released in select cinemas on 11th May 2018.
Watch the trailer for Mansfield 66/67 here: