The Jayne Mansfield Collection

Those who rue the target mentality of Marilyn Monroe would probably turn their heads and grimace at the sight of Jayne Mansfield. Where Marilyn was at least given half-credit for attempting to act, Mansfield was first and foremost a joke, a blonde bombshell who did the "smart/stupid” showgirl act to the hilt and over the top. This box features three examples of her 40-inch genius, though only two deserve a second look. First up is The Girl Can’t Help It, Frank Tashlin’s satire of showbiz hucksterism. Mansfield plays the moll of gangster Edmond O’Brien, the latter of whom enlists nebbish PR man Tom Ewell to build her into a rock’n’roll star. The only problem? She can’t sing and would rather just keep house. Sexism aside, this isn’t bad, with Tashlin skewering the go-go achievement ethic of the ’50s with his ex-animator’s wit and zesty vulgarity. But though rock talents like Little Richard, Fats Domino and the Platters grace the film, they seem out of place in the middle-aged and rigorously designed production. Better is Tashlin’s Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? featuring Mansfield as a movie star using ad man Rock Hunter (Tony Randall) to make her boyfriend jealous. He needs her for a lipstick campaign but soon finds himself playing her "lover doll” in order to get the endorsement. Where The Girl Can’t Help It was slightly let down by a limited scope, this is a far ranging and hilarious critique of the decade’s materialism with Randall perfectly cast. Tashlin’s searing colours and rampaging sight gags peak with a non sequitur dig at television and an extremely funny ad-parody title sequence. Though Raoul Walsh has his admirers, he stumbled with the flimsy western spoof The Sheriff of Fractured Jaw. When cultured Brit Kenneth More hits the Wild West to sell his firm’s guns, he finds himself in the titular burg and gets appointed sheriff, falling in love with Mansfield’s saloon singer. Though the film is inoffensive, it’s fatally lacking in smarts and should have been left out of this, or any, collection. The Girl Can’t Help It features an okay but obvious commentary by Toby Miller and an achingly sad episode of A&E Biography on the star; Rock Hunter features an excellent commentary by Dana Polan and a newsreel. Twelve collectable lobby cards round things out. (Fox)