We talked to MANSFIELD 66/67 directors P.David Ebersole and Todd Hughes about their devilish documentary which spotlights the mysterious final years of Hollywood bombshell Jayne Mansfield.
Jayne’s uneasy intersection with that moment of American history meshed perfectly with our common interests in people who live as outsiders, especially those who experience a questioning of faith and how that expands an acceptance of mans’ multiplicitous nature, be it expressed in sexually adventurous behaviour or non-traditional paths in life. All very heady thoughts when you are talking about an alleged affair between a woman known best for having the body measurements of 40-21-35 and a man who liked to wear plastic devil horns and a red cape to impress girls!
Together, for close to twenty years now, we have researched and collected Jayne and Anton literature and artifacts trying to piece together this mysterious story as a narrative feature script. But we found ourselves not very interested in the “simple” idea of making an exposé where we were might try to dig past the rumours and legends to expose the absolute truth, but rather found ourselves fascinated by creating a celebration of the storytellings and spectacles which have ingrained themselves into the lore and accepted truths of Hollywood Babylon. For instance, although it has been disproven many times, many people today still insist that Jayne Mansfield was decapitated, preferring to hold on to the gory hearsay in lieu of accepting the reported facts. Why? What is more interesting about that which may not be true but lives on in the collective unconscious?
First, we set out to interview subjects with not just first hand experience of either Jayne or Anton, but hopefully people who might hold deeper thoughts about either or both of them and/or their alleged relationship with each other. We reached out to find contemporaries who may or may not have been their colleagues, artists who expressed being influenced by one or the other, theorists and feminists who might have a take on it all, film scholars who could put their careers into context with each other, experts in Hollywood gossip — essentially a melting pot of people who could only comment on what they heard rather than who could, say, confirm the veracity of the stories being told.
On an artistic level, we felt that telling this as a “true story based on rumour and hearsay” required that we created our supporting material in the same vein. This is what inspired us to use what we call emotional dance numbers and experimental film and performance sketches to ruminate and try to understand the extraordinary circumstances which lead up to Jayne’s tragic death.
MANSFIELD 66/67 is available on DVD and On-Demand from the 25th June. Read more here.