Sunday, 18 May 2014
Single Room Furnished (1966)
This is the last filmed starring role of 50s 'blonde bombshell' Jayne Mansfield. She would film only a couple of minor roles between it and her early death in a car accident. This was one of her several attempts to be a 'serious' actress, most of which foundered on the fact that she had a pretty limited range.
The film's adapted from a play, and it shows. It's almost entirely composed of scenes where two people talk to one another. In fact, with enough wigs and outfit changes, and a male actor who was willing to crossdress for the opening scene (between a mother and daughter) you could make the entire thing with only two actors, as in the rare cases where a third character is present in a scene, they're not really necessary.
This appears to be a cautionary/morality tale as it is framed around an old man explaining to a young woman that the 'exciting' life of her prostitute neighbour is not the bed of roses she imagines it to be. This life is shown to us through flashbacks. So many flashbacks. There are even two, or arguably three, incidents of flashbacks-within-a-flashback, which makes this film even flashbackier than Highlander.
Mansfield plays the neighbour, and despite being billed as the lead is not only in about half the movie. She's absent from the framing sequences, of course, and also from a long diversion into another local couple's romance. I've seen some people complain about said diversion ruining any momentum the film had, but I actually quite liked the two actors in it, and thought their extremely awkward courtship rather sweet.
There's not a whole lot to recommend here: Mansfield isn't an actor who can make her character's tale really speak to the audience, and even if she was, this isn't the script to do it. The film's also not helped by the cheap sets and uneven quality of the supproting actors. You can safely skip it.