I’ve held off writing about an indie film called “Jayne Mansfield’s Car” which opened this weekend and didn’t do very well. I thought using Mansfield’s name in the title was exploitative and insensitive. The movie is written and directed by Billy Bob Thornton. If you’re too young to know, Jayne Mansfield was the beautiful mother of “Law & Order SVU” star Mariska Hargitay. Mansfield died in a car crash in 1967. She was 34 and left five children.
The new movie has nothing to do with Mansfield, but it has a title which seems excessively in poor taste. Jayne Mansfield was a human being and she has a family. Her name may be in the public domain, but the movie is using it and her accident to exploit itself.
Hargitay hasn’t done anything about it but she’s not happy. “I mean, come on, it’s horrible,” she told me the other night at the season premiere screening for “Law & Order: SVU.” She told me: “I don’t want to make a whole thing out of it. But they didn’t even ask me if it was alright.” Hargitay is too classy to make a scene. But it was a bad idea. And the result is bad karma for a film that will be on Netflix and DVD very quickly.