August 04, 2006 at 04:00 AM EDT

Is the new ”Jayne Mansfield Collection” worth buying?

Jayne Mansfield (1933-67), the cut-rate Marilyn Monroe (a hubba-hubba bottle blonde without the iconic status), is now the answer to the trivia question ”Who was Mariska Hargitay’s mother?” But for a time in the late ’50s, Mansfield — a Madonna with whore closer to the surface, a fleshier Paris Hilton with livelier emotions — closed in on Monroe’s popularity with two films, Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? (1957) and The Girl Can’t Help It (1956), which, along with The Sheriff of Fractured Jaw (1958), compose the no-frills Jayne Mansfield Collection. Both Hunter and Girl were directed by Frank Tashlin, initially a movie cartoonist who drew girls with hourglass figures and men as howling wolves. Tashlin brought this comic exaggeration to his films: In Girl, Mansfield, wearing a constricting blue dress and heels, wiggles past a sap whose eyeglasses shatter upon gazing at her. The film uses Jayne as charming filler between rock & rollers like Little Richard and Fats Domino. Sheriff had a superior director — Raoul Walsh — tackling lousy material. Hunter, with its fine performance from Tony Randall, is the actress’ best. A human undulating curve filmed in expansive CinemaScope, Mansfield was objectified before feminism made objectification uncool.

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