Friday, December 28, 2012

This is a Normal Movie, Completely on the Up and Up, Ladies and Gentlemen

It's always nice to see beautiful breasts, but there is an added pleasure in seeing legendary beautiful breasts, like those of Jayne Mansfield here, which are of course the highlight of 1963's Promises! Promises!. It was the first time in the sound era that a mainstream star appeared nude in a Hollywood movie--really just topless. Most of the rest of the film struggles to justify its existence, but it seems like most involved understood it was only to provide the barest semblance of respectability. It's a screwball comedy that contains one or two moments almost worthy of a chuckle, as well as a couple musical numbers performed by Mansfield that showed she was much closer to the caricature to-day usually ascribed to Marilyn Monroe than Monroe herself.

But, oh, those breasts. Sure, it's easy enough to find them in a google image search, and at the time of the movie's release, Mansfield had already appeared in Playboy. But it's fascinating and a bit exciting for the novelty seeing nudity in a movie that still basically had the tone of a cheap but legitimate Hollywood movie of the 1950s. Its use of tropes makes the film feel like a missing link between disposable 50s comedies and storyline pornos that arose in the late 60s.

The plot here involves Tommy Noonan, who also produced the film, playing Mansfield's husband, of course unable to perform sexually in the sort of improbable tease that appears all over the sex comedy universe, from 50s movies to anime series of to-day. So, he goes to see the ship's doctor (the whole movie takes place on a cruise ship), who gives him a placebo in the form of aspirin, apparently not realising the characters were going to wind up taking these supposed libido boosters with lots and lots of alcohol. Fortunately, no-one's stomach started bleeding in the course of this film, as far as I can tell.

Which brings us back to Jayne Mansfield's breasts. Well, not really, but the film continually cuts back senselessly to the two or three minutes of footage of her breasts regardless of whether it's germane to what's happening in the movie. It's actually extremely awkward. The plot is a silly series of mix-ups with their neighbours and not really worth recounting.

The only other really noteworthy element is the ship's barber played by T.C. Jones, a "female impersonator", who is revealed in dialogue to be gay and seems like he may possibly be the beginning of the romantic comedy gay best friend stock character.

One of the few moments of almost effective comedy happens when at Mansfield's baby shower he starts doing impressions of celebrities, including Jayne Mansfield, whose character excitedly proclaims, "I can do her too!" Yes, she certainly could.

Twitter Sonnet #461

Soft heads with Bing Crosby eyes can't yet sing.
In stony bars stalks the Mayan cougar.
Crowns of welts will not spare child or king.
Gates of wrought iron will not stop sugar.
Burgundy outgrows the grasp of Loge.
Fire finds false shadows in a dimple.
White blooms bleeding over blue are shaggy.
Grids of grim matte jelly are made simple.
Organic Windex darkens the new pane.
Voluminous cans hold the cuckold's beer.
Orbiting photographs soon roundly wane.
Razor fringed beanies strip the brain of fear.
Substitute dancers dismiss their wardrobe.
Bojangles unveiled Salome's earlobe.

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