Judge Steve Evans sez: Jayne Mansfield nudity good. Promises! Promises! bad.
A mad marital mix-up of husbands, wives, and babies!
Another gawdawful Jayne Mansfield movie, redeemed slightly by nudity. With this silly sex comedy, Mansfield became the first major Hollywood actress to appear topless on film. Too bad she couldn't have picked a better vehicle to make her bare debut. The acting is atrocious, the script even worse. As comedy, this is embarrassingly awful stuff. When Jayne's charms trigger nothing but yawns, something has gone terribly wrong with the cinematic process. At least the cameraman shot the film mostly in focus.
Facts of the Case
Two friends aboard a cruise ship desperately want to become pregnant. When their dreams come true following a weekend of drunken revelry, the women realize they don't know which husband is the father of which baby. Ohmigod! Could these characters be dumb as hell, oblivious to the sheer jaw-dropping shallowness of their stupidity? Yup; could be.
And that's the plot, such as it is. Hard to believe that a movie featuring a nekkid Jayne Mansfield could be the miracle cure for insomnia. Even by the minimal standards of bad cinema, Promises! Promises! is excruciatingly dull and unfunny. Now, honest guys will confess that once they've seen one naked woman, they want to see them all. Having seen a few in my day (with my grateful appreciation to each of them), it is at the risk of sacrilege that I render judgment on the main selling point of this picture: Jayne's plump bosom isn't all that spectacular, especially in the uninspired manner her twins are photographed here, in hazy black and white. A shot of her emerging from the bathroom and dropping her towel is reused three times, no less, including a flashback scene in which one of the characters wasn't even present. As erotica, this is on par with the underwear section of the Sears catalog. As cinema, it is merely inept.
Mansfield's then-husband Mickey Hargitay appears here as "the other man." His bodybuilding character is dumb as a sack of dung, almost too stupid to live. If the Hollywood history books are true, this could be an autobiographical performance. Comedian Tommy Noonan co-stars as Mansfield's clueless hubby, who gratefully gulps pills supplied by the ship's doctor. The doc vaguely hints that the pills will aid conception, but he does not elaborate. Still, it seems clear enough: anyone who cannot supply Jayne Mansfield with the object of her desire must be struggling with erectile dysfunction. Following this thesis to its logical conclusion, we could make an argument that Promises! Promises! is a science fiction flick, since Viagra would be 40 years in coming, ho, ho.
The good news is, we finally have an affirmative answer to the age-old cinematic question: would 75 minutes of watching these actors mowing grass be more interesting than this film?
Extras include a pair of trailers and a photo gallery featuring more Mansfield nudity. Ho, hum.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
It's hard to imagine how awful this picture would be if not for the occasional glimpse of undulating Mansfield flesh. Indeed, this is the raison for the film's d'etre. Without Jayne, this could be a very bad episode of I Love Lucy.
One of the worst films I have seen. Ranks well below anything directed by Ed Wood, Ron Ormond (Mesa of Lost Women), Phil Tucker (Robot Monster), hell, even Jerry (Wild World of Batwoman) Warren. Promises! Promises! doesn't even reach the rarefied level of so-bad-it's-good. Caveat lector, baby; this picture is rank.
Guilty of inducing terminal boredom, the only sin a film can commit.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: VCI Home Video
• European and U.S Trailers for the Film
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