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Joan Collins, Jayne Mansfield and Dan Dailey star in this engaging drama based on a novel by John Steinbeck. Three strangers - a stripper (Mansfield), an alcoholic wife (Collins) and a traveling salesman (Dailey) - embark on a life-changing journey on a fateful bus ride. As the road presents challenges, each character faces his or her own shortcomings, not knowing where life will lead next. Written by
Like many Steinbeck stories, this is more of a snapshot of a time and place as opposed to a rigid start-middle-end kind of movie. What we get here is a look into the lives of a bunch of characters with many of their respective futures left open to interpretation.
So we have the buffoonish travelling salesman, the alcoholic diner owner, the teen dreaming of Hollywood stardom, the rugged bus driver, the embarrassed stripper, the repressed teen...the list goes on. Basically, a cross section of society travel on a bus whose journey is as unpredictable and dangerous as that of the lives of most of the passengers aboard.
While it's not the most riveting of movies, and the vastness of Cinemascope certainly spoils the intimacy of some of the scenes, it is a solid little drama in the kitchen sink/new wave style that is an entertaining watch from start to finish. While the copy I own on DVD has clearly been copied from a television broadcast resulting in fluffy picture and muffled sound, I still enjoyed (and repeatedly enjoy) watching this film.
The standout? But Jayne Mansfield of course. If Marilyn silenced the critics that she could act with a movie about a bus, then so did our Jayne. Of course the platinum blonde tresses and eye-popping figure are present and correct but gone are the silly wiggle, the high pitched squeals and the plunging necklines. Here, in a rare straight dramatic performance, Jayne present Camille not as a cartoon character a la Jessica Rabbit, but rather a sex symbol with feelings, someone who is employed for her looks but has fears and emotions beneath the surface. Jayne moves and talks naturally in this film and is a revelation.
How sad that after this solid performance and her wonderful turn as Rita Marlow in Rock Hunter, ego would dictate that she would agree to appear with Cary Grant in what many consider the final nail in her A-list film career, Kiss Them For Me...a truly abysmal waste of time.
But forget about her career mistakes; Jayne is solid gold here and this is well worth a watch.
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