Diamonds to Dust

In 1977, British punk band The Motors ran an ad campaign in the NME that featured celebrity photos with acidic headlines. One ad featured a shot of peroxide Hollywood legend Jayne Mansfield with the caption, “I Lost My Head Over The Motors.”

For all you trash-tabloid deprived folks, the backstory is that she left this mortal coil a decade earlier in a gruesome auto accident. The car she was riding in drove into the back of a truck, and the three front seat passengers got extremely close haircuts, Jayne included.

Why bring this up? Considering the lurid picture painted by the Mansfield biopic Diamonds to Dust, the sick advert seems like an honest, albeit nasty, take on the media’s exploitation of her, and in turn, she of it.

“…Mansfield salivated over press and TV attention and became a pro at grabbing headlines.”

Throughout her career, Mansfield salivated over press and TV attention and became a pro at grabbing headlines. But underneath the celebrity gossip, garish photos and breathlessly titillating scandals lay a disdain — our’s and the media’s — for an unremarkable actress whose chief talent was self-promotion. The Jayne in Diamonds to Dust is a self-proclaimed sex symbol who cannot get enough of anything she craved be it press coverage, partying, or simple attention. Perhaps her most memorable achievement took place when she photobombed another star when she barged in as a cameraman is snapping pics of Sophia Loren at a restaurant. Jayne leans into the frame and lets her top slip most of the way off — a boob bomb, if you will. The rest is history.

But apart from her obsession with self-promotion she was apparently a holy terror. The film portrays her as a pill-popping, booze-chugging sex maniac who bullies her several husbands, taunting them as she committed adultery right under their noses. Her oldest daughter, Jayne-Marie (Lisa Marie Henricks), was on the receiving end of a healthy portion of abuse but had the guts to stand up to the old gal. At one point, when Jayne spirits away a 16-year-old hotel employee for a little rumpus in her room, Jayne-Marie reprimands her. He’s my age, she reminds her morally challenged senior.

What’s tragic is that she left behind three children and a string of husbands and lovers…”

That she died in such a horrific manner was just the tantalizing pièce de résistance for what must have been an immensely troubled life. I say must have been because the film gives a smidgen of background on Mansfield barely before she became Mansfield, the poor man’s Marilyn Monroe. It’s a shallow chronicle of her exploits as she leaps from one man to another, obsessed with success and reminding everyone around her that she’s the breadwinner, so they’d better toe the line.

In short, she’s a monster, and part of the thrill we’re supposed from seeing an abusive megalomaniac on screen is watching her get hers. And boy, does she ever. What’s tragic is that she left behind three children and a string of husbands and lovers, some genuinely caring of her, and others just as cold-blooded as she.

Diamonds to Dust holds together as a narrative, probably because it was adapted from a book. Each section of the film is broken down into chapters. Call it an accurate portrayal of the facts, or cheap exploitation, it’s overly long, running a bit under two hours. The acting is spotty and stiff, the production values are strictly low rent. Hailey Heisick’s Jayne is passable in a role that requires little depth. Trash culture addicts may get a charge out of Diamonds to Dust. Just don’t expect it to be much better than many of the clunkers that Mansfield starred in.

Diamonds to Dust (2014) Directed by Rob Villano. Written by Frank Ferruccio. Starring Hailey Heisick, Adrian Gorbaliuk, Rocco Palmieri.

5 out of 10

3 responses to “Diamonds to Dust

  1. There are two ways to take this film. Either as a truthful empathetic film or a trash fest. I love Jayne Mansfield she has been a big part of my life. I didn’t mean to “Trash” her but to show the public the struggles she went through. Jayne was an Incredible woman ahead of her time. A woman who made her mark on the world and had a very successful career while being the mother of five. She was mostly a single mom and had to support EVERYONE in her life from agents, maids, secretaries to ex husbands, children and family. Jayne paid the bills and had to go where the work was paying premium. It was the sixties and for a woman who basically got paid to show her curves that was a lot of pressure to be under. Diet pills, Pregnancy Hormones and Alcohol are a volatile mix and she was human that’s what i wanted to show. She was married and a mother at 15, never had a chance to date so after her marriages failed it became her time to play the field. People talk about Jayne as a washed up mess but she was the opposite. She went where they PAID her well, and if that was a nightclub in the deep south or in Europe she went. I always tell people Marilyn Monroe was the # 1 Star in the world and when she tragically past she was only worth about 150K in 1962. When Jayne was tragically killed in 1967, she was worth about 2 million dollars! To be an International star and sex symbol, marry three times, have 5 children , make 29 movies and countless television roles and appearances and be one of the first women in Vegas to make 35K a week Jayne Mansfield was a Superstar!

  2. This film is not perfect but if you consider how hard it is to make a period film on a tight budget it is really brilliant. Is the acting weak at times? Yes! Are there details that are slightly off? Yes! Was it entertaining? Very much so! Looking for a feel good film about the glory and glamour of being a star in the latter fifties and sixties? This IS NOT THAT! This is a gritty backstory about a woman who marketed her limited talent into being an international superstar. All while supporting ex husbands, children and touring all over the world. Hailey Heisick doesn’t look like Jayne but her acting makes you believe it’s her. She gives a really great layered performance emanating enough of Jayne to make you empathize with her even though she seems to be making life hell for everyone. Adrian Gorbaliuk is perfect as Mickey Hargitay. He sounds like him, he’s built and really easy on the eyes. The powerhouse performances come from Mike Funk as Jayne’s third husband Matt Cimber, T.J. McNeil as Poet Jan Cremer, Patti Ivy as Jayne’s mother and Lisa Henricks as Jayne’s oldest daughter. Not for the young because of sexual situations and not for the squeamish because it does show Mansfield’s actual death scene photos which are graphic.

  3. I think that this is a truly remarkable film that does exactly what it set out to do–portray Jayne as not just a movie star but a real human being who had struggles but really made the most of her life. It really needed to be made considering how tragic it is that no one knew how remarkable Jayne really was and perhaps she is remembered for all the wrong reasons. This film made me understand why Jayne is an inspiration. And as a woman I can relate to some of the struggle she faced. Despite being a low budget film Hailey’s performance is absolutely captivating and she makes Jaynes life an even more dramatic and truly entertaining ride. And the costumes and makeup are so well done–did anyone know that all of Hailey’s wardrobe were Jaynes actual dresses?! This really takes the film up a notch. At times funny, sad, inspiring, & captivating I think Frank Ferruccio did the best job of telling Jaynes real story–a story that needs to be heard.

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