• The Wild, Wild World Of Jayne Mansfield (Severin Films) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Severin Films
    Released on: July 28th, 2020.
    Director: Arthur Knight, Joel Holt, Charles W. Bround Jr.
    Cast: Jayne Mansfield, Mickey Hargitay, Dick Randall
    Year: 1968
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    The Wild, Wild
    World Of Jayne Mansfield – Movie Review:

    Released in 1968, the same year in which its subject passed away in a fatal car accident, The Wild, Wild World Of Jayne Mansfield purports to be a real look into the day to day life of the buxom blonde of films like The Girl Can’t Help It, Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? and The Loves Of Hercules!

    The film opens in Rome. Here, as Jayne tours around the city, she’s constantly mobbed by horny male admirers and gushing fans. Her narration (some of which was recorded by Mansfield herself and some, after her death, by a voice artist who does a pretty good job of sounding just like her) tells us her feelings on all of this – really, she doesn’t seem to mind and quite likes the looks of many Italian men. They remind her of Hercules… at which point we get some clips of Jayne from The Loves Of Hercules inserted into the film. Around this same time, Dick Randall, the film’s producer (and the man who produced For Y’Ur Height Only!), shows up and pinches Jayne on her fanny! Before leaving Rome, she sees some famous sights like The Coliseum and does a bunch of other touristy stuff. After that, she hops on a boat and takes a trip out to an island that is also a nudist colony. Will she strip down and join them? We won’t spoil that here.

    Jayne’s next stop is in Paris, where every other person sells drugs, or so she tells us. Here she visits a few odd spots like some famous night clubs and a drag queen bar, before then getting to sit in on a contest where a judge gets to decide which female contestant has the best breasts! Jayne doesn’t participate in the competition (and may not have actually been in the room where this even filmed in the first place) but she tells us that if she were, she’d have probably won. She also checks out a live band, gawks at the Eiffel Tower and visits Cannes while she’s in France, because hey, it looks like a nice place.

    After enjoying an unusually large amount of drag queens and transvestites in Paris, she heads to New York City and then eventually to Hollywood before the movie does an amazingly tasteless about face and confronts us with the details of Mansfield’s death by way of some surprisingly graphic footage from the site of the accident that took her life. Before it’s all over, we hear inside the mansion she shared with husband Mickey Hargitay, where we see him play the piano he bought her, see their two kids at play, and learn that not only was she an ideal mother and homemaker but that she had a remarkably high IQ.

    For the first fifty-minutes or so, this is seriously goofy stuff. Jayne’s air-headed narration is frequently hysterical and seeing her strutting about with her pet Chihuahua in hand, greeting fans and pretending to be shocked by things that are no pretty common place, well, it’s funny. The inserts from a couple of Jayne’s films are there only to pad the picture, but Randall and company were savvy enough to make sure that a few nudie bits make it into the movie to keep those looking for cheap thrills satiated. Once it gets to the car crash, however, the movie is surprisingly dark and serious in tone, clearly cashing in on the very real, and very tragic, evens that took the life of its star (and, as the photos clearly document, her dog as well). This sequence may only use black and white stills, but it’s still quite graphic and unsettling. It’s exploitation of the highest order that tries, and fails fantastically to redeem itself at the end with the remarkably ham-fisted look at Jayne’s home life and family.

    The Wild, Wild World Of Jayne Mansfield – Blu-ray Review:

    Severin Films brings The Wild, Wild World Of Jayne Mansfield to Blu-ray in a standard edition (a limited edition release came out last year) in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 1.85.1 widescreen. Taken from the only 35mm print known to exist (meaning this is probably as good as it is going to get), according to a disclaimer that appears before the ninety-minute feature starts, the elements here have suffered some noticeable color fading over the years, resulting in a less than perfect presentation. Taking up a little over 14GBs of space on the 25GB disc, the image struggles with compression at times, some of the more noticeable grain getting blocky in spots. There’s noticeable print damage throughout, mostly white specks and occasional scratches. This doesn’t look amazing, but it does at least look like film, showing no problematic noise reduction or edge enhancement issues.

    Severin has also included the SD video master version of feature, which replicates the DVD release from Something Weird Video from years back. The detail isn’t as good but the colors are better preserved in this edition, so it’s nice to have it included even if it is presented in non-anamorphic widescreen and with Dolby Digital Mono audio (no subtitles).

    The English language 16-bit DTS-HD 2.0 Mono track is on par with the video quality in that it is less than perfect, but still serviceable enough. Janye’s narration comes through pretty clearly and the score sounds alright. There’s a bit of hiss here and there but overall, this sounds good enough even if it never sounds amazing. Optional subtitles are provided in English only.

    The main extra on the disc is The Devil & Jayne, which is an interview with Anton LaVey Biographer Blanche Barton that clocks in at just over six-minutes in length. Here, Barton speaks quite candidly about how Mansfield had a particular interest in The Church Of Satan and came to be quite curious about the group and its leader, Anton LaVey. It's quite interesting stuff, and definitely worth watching if you're got an appreciation for the weirder side of Hollywood history.

    Severin has also included a second feature film on the disc in the form of Wild, Weird, Wonderful Italians, an Italian Mondo made in 1966 that runs for seventy-six-minutes. Directed by Pasquale Prunas, this film (which opens with an American International Pictures Television logo) is much tamer and milder than most of the other Mondo movies made during the shockumentary’s boom years. It is, as you’d probably have guessed from the title, a look at Italian life. As it opens with a scene of an Italian military parade, the English language narration provides some context as to what we’re seeing, adding little anecdotes about Italian culture and history as the film progresses. We travel around Rome, visit some monuments and see some tourists enjoying their site seeing, enjoy some art and sculpture and learn how female tourists love Italian men. From there, we see some street walkers plying their trade, witness an Italian man wooing a woman by hanging upside-down from a tree branch, enjoy the scene of the busy Italian train stations, witness some strange folk culture and ritualistic practices and contrast Italian night life with the country's spiritual side with a visit to a monastery. Later a man complains about the economy, we learn about the country's import and export businesses, get a feel for the Italian political scene of the era in which this picture was made, visit an Italian beauty contest filled with some truly gorgeous women and, towards the end, pay a visit to the Venice Film Festival.

    The film is presented in AVC encoded 1080p high definition, framed at 1.33.1 and “scanned from a 35mm print from the Something Weird archives” taking up just over 7GBS of space on the disc and with Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono English language audio. There are no subtitles provided.

    Rounding out the extras are a trailer for the feature, menus and chapter selection.

    The Wild, Wild World Of Jayne Mansfield – The Final Word Review:

    The Wild, Wild World Of Jayne Mansfield is as deliriously goofy as it is, ultimately, quite tasteless! It’s a different kind of Mondo movie, to be sure, but it is quite an entertaining film even if none of it, save for the tragic car crash which killed its subject, ever feels particularly real. Severin has brought the film to Blu-ray from elements that were clearly in less than perfect shape, but the second bonus feature and the interview in the supplements section will definitely add some value. Recommended for those with a taste for misguided vanity projects and bizarre documentary features.

    Click on the images below for full sized The Wild World Of Jayne Mansfield Blu-ray screen caps!