Starring Loni Anderson, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ray Buktenica, Kathleen Lloyd, G.D. Spradlin, Dave Shelley, Laura Jacoby, Whitney Rydbeck, John Medici
Directed by Dick Lowry
Expectations: Very low.
There are many places that I expected the filmography of Arnold Schwarzenegger to take me, but a TV biopic about Jayne Mansfield was definitely not one of them. I’d love to say that it’s a hidden gem, but it’s barely engaging, let alone entertaining. It’s not especially bad or anything, and maybe if I was really into Jayne Mansfield I’d find it more interesting. It’s just so… “TV movie,” which translates to “more often than not boring and hard to get through.” The budget is small, so don’t expect much more than people talking about things about to happen (or that have just happened) and then a slow fade into the next dialogue scene taking place before (or after) another major event. I can’t really hold this against the film anymore than I could be mad at a horror movie for having gore, but it was pretty trying on my patience.
The story here is the basic “starry-eyed unknown becomes a star” storyline, but the interesting aspect of Jayne Mansfield’s story is her untimely death at age 34 and her ability to drive publicity through playing up her sexuality. The film wisely starts on the night of the car crash that killed her, drawing in the audience by showing us a glimpse of where Mansfield was mentally before showing us how she got there. This isn’t especially original, but it’s an effective storytelling device and it works very well here. It also serves to introduce Arnold’s character, setting him up as our narrator (yes, you read that right) as we venture back to an earlier time when Mansfield wasn’t a star.