When we talked about the Mamie Van Doren film Vice Raid a few posts ago, we discussed the three M’s of blonde bombshells…Mamie Van Doren, Marilyn Monroe, and Jayne Mansfield. I don’t think anyone could claim any of them to be among the greatest actresses of all time, but Van Doren and Monroe had solid acting chops. Jayne Mansfield, not as much. She’s had some great screen moments, “The Girl Can’t Help It” for example, but of the three, I believe she was probably the weakest when it came to acting ability. Case in point, the 1964 Italian film Dog Eat Dog.
The opening of this film is very weird. The filmmakers jump between footage of a cackling bad guy trying to run some poor guy off a cliff, and scenes of Mansfield writhing on a bed rubbing money all over herself. It’s actually a little uncomfortable to watch. Turns out Mansfield and the guy in the car are two of a gang of three crooks who just lifted a million bucks from a ship. The third crook is the guy who just went off the cliff.
The loud music Mansfield is playing while rolling on her bed of money causes the hotel manager to pay her a visit. When he spots a large bill on the floor, he knows the crooks he’s heard about on the radio are in his hotel and he launches a plan to take the money for himself. But the crooks get wise, they hop one of the hotel’s boats to make an escape. Unfortunately for them, waiting on the boat is Corbett (the guy who went off the cliff) with the hotel manager’s sister tied up. Got all that? Go back and reread if you have to…there’s more.
The crooks, with the hotel manager following behind, all head for an island where they expect to find their real getaway vessel. But all they find is a creepy old woman and her Donald Pleasence lookalike butler living in a villa the crooks believed to be deserted. The woman used to run a brothel on the island, often talks about an unseen “emperor,” and has now returned to the island to die. She is mentally unstable to say the least. Soon, the money goes missing, then people start dying, and everyone starts gong crazy with suspicion.
The story does have potential, but it is so poorly executed. Manfield’s involvement is clearly a bit of stunt casting. But even if she was cast more for her physical attributes, the filmmakers didn’t get to show them off much. She spends most of the movie wearing a puffy bathrobe…supposedly to hide the fact that she was visibly pregnant with her daughter, future Law and Order actress Mariska Hargitay. Her performance is completely over the top, but I gotta admit…in a fun way. I love the scene where she discovers the first dead body:
“Look he’s dead. He’s dead. He’s dead. Oh, look, he’s dead. Look! He’s dead! He’s dead! He’s dead! He’s dead! He’s dead!”
The other actors do their fair share of crazy acting as well. Watching Cameron Mitchell (as Corbett) flail around the mansion searching for the money conjures up images of slapstick comedies when feathers literally start flying.
Supposedly, several different directors came and went throughout the production of this film. No wonder it’s a complete mess…which is what many viewers will love about it.