The Wild, Wild World Of Jayne Mansfield/The Labyrinth Of Sex (DVD)

The Wild, Wild World Of Jayne Mansfield/The Labyrinth Of Sex (DVD)

The controlled environment of a movie set can make films seem frozen in time, removed from anything like common human experience. But elements of reality sneak in, especially when babies or nudity are involved. Costumes and makeup can be as precise as the director demands, but whether it's 1963 or 2003, babies look like babies and naked bodies look like naked bodies. That doesn't make the 1968 exploitation quickie The Wild, Wild World Of Jayne Mansfield any better as a movie, but it makes its sociological importance a little easier to defend. The definition of a cash-in, Wild World consists of footage of the buxom actress (shot before her fatal car accident, but assembled afterward and narrated by what must be a Mansfield soundalike) touring Europe, where she visits nude beaches, strip clubs, and gay bars. The film is padded out by excerpts from Mansfield nude scenes in other movies, loosely related action sequences from Roman sword-and-sandal epics, a live performance by Rocky Roberts, and, at the finish, a posthumous tour of Mansfield's house, intercut with still photographs from her fatal car wreck. Until that finale, Wild World does double duty as a travelogue and nudie picture, pushing a fantasy of leisure. While "Mansfield" mutters breathily on the soundtrack about how free and natural Europeans are with their bodies, the movie offers up shots of Italian roadside prostitutes, Cannes beach bunnies, and Parisian topless beauty contests. The fetishizing of exotic locales becomes even more intense as, at almost every stop, Mansfield promises (and fails) to join in the sexual liberation, taking advantage of (and cheating) the persistent public interest in celebrity nudity. Wild World's money shot is the black-and-white glossies of Mansfield's decapitated body, which for modern audiences provides yet another vision of how humanity remains fundamentally unchanged by time: No matter the era, a corpse is a corpse. Something Weird's DVD of The Wild, Wild World Of Jayne Mansfield comes packaged with a set of trailers for sophisticated Euro-smut, as well as a second feature: The Labyrinth Of Sex, another variation on the "mondo" class of titillating pseudo-documentaries. After opening with gory live-birth footage and close-ups of breast-feeding, the 1969 movie sets off on a series of creepily arty vignettes of sexual deviation, accompanied by Freudian gobbledygook from a solemn narrator and almost subliminal flash cuts of seductive advertising images. It's a particularly cruel kind of exploitation film, one that rubs the audience's face in its own prurience.

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