Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, May 13, 2021


Loni Anderson
THE JAYNE MANSFIELD STORY (1980 telefilm). Director: Dick Lowry. 

Jayne Mansfield (Loni Anderson), a newly-divorced mom with a young daughter, tries to take Hollywood by storm and succeeds -- for a time. Jayne appears on Broadway in Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? and is lucky enough to get cast in the film adaptation. Overdoing the publicity bit while waiting for future assignments from her studio, 20th Century-Fox, she discovers that few people take her seriously, except perhaps her new husband, Mickey Hargitay (Arnold Schwarzenegger). Becoming one of those celebrities who would "go to the opening of an envelope," her career rapidly goes on the downslide, doing nude scenes in cheap Grade D movies and club acts in dives.

Arnold Schwarzenegger and Loni Anderson
Although one might wonder if the story of a minor show business casualty is even worth the telling, this telepic succeeds because of some very good performances. Although she overdoes the squealing a bit, Loni Anderson probably gives a better performance than the real Mansfield ever did, turning the actress from a kewpie doll into a pathetic figure who garners some sympathy. (While there may be people far more deserving of our pity, self-absorbed actors who are desperate to stay relevant and employed do suffer in their own way, as evidenced by Mansfield's excessive drinking.) Arnold Schwarzenegger gives a surprisingly appealing and sensitive -- if such a term can be used in conjunction with the body builder -- performance, and Ray Buktenica and Kathleen Lloyd score as, respectively, Mansfield's agent and her friend and companion. G. D. Spradlin also makes an impression as Mansfield's liaison at the studio. 

Verdict:  Possibly more than the poor Mansfield deserves. ***. 


angelman66 said...

Actually like this movie A LOT; great script, historically pretty accurate, with strong performances by Loni Anderson ( the only one I can think of, but she is perfect in this) and a presuperstardom Arnold (when I saw this as a kid, I KNEW he was going to be a star and said so, and people laughed at me because of his thick accent and even thicker muscles!).
If this is available on DVD, I need to buy. At any rate, will find and watch again soon.
- Chris

William said...

It's on youtube even as we speak (write)! A decent print. This is a good movie. You're right that I never saw Anderson in anything even remotely comparable. On her sitcoms she always seemed like an outsized Barbie doll!

I was surprised at how decent Arnold was in this movie. He did better than Mickey Hargitay at any rate.