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Dog Eat Dog (1964)


LuckyDan
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Dog Eat Dog opens with shots of Jayne Mansfield in her nightie laying on a bed with paper money floating above her like feathers from a burst pillow, while the radio blasts. Is she alone? Someone seems to have opened the bag of bills and emptied it onto her.  We see the bag fall from the top of the screen and land on the bed near her feet as she luxuriates in the feel of the $1000 bills against her skin. She actually takes a bite of one. Crackers!

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This pleasant scene is intercut with images of a crazed cigar-smoking man in dark glasses and an evil grin, behind the wheel of a convertible, chasing down Cameron Mitchell, who is trying to escape from him on foot but seems always to be trapped in the cramped urban spaces of an old middle European city; at the end of a pier, then on the railing of a bridge, a doorway beside a narrow street. 

Cutting back to Jayne's room, we find her doing the twist while putting the bills back in the bag. She is alone. She must have tossed the money bag into the air herself before. Eventually, after more inter-cutting during which the credits roll, we see Cam's body fall from a cliff, roll over some rocks and disappear beneath them as waves crash against the cliffs. We figure he can't survive that so, with the bad guy, we just think he's dead. Nevermind he's the male lead and we're not ten minutes into the show. Why not? Hitchcock did it.

Jayne meanwhile, back at the Americana hotel, has drawn the attention of the manager who has come to her room to tell her to turn down the radio. While he's there we learn, Gilligan's Island style from a radio announcer delivering a news bulletin, that there has been a robbery of $1,000,000 American. While listening to the news the manager notices a stray $1000 bill on the floor and by his expression we see he figures Jayne had something to do with the robbery but he says nothing.

Jayne, preggers with Mariska during filming, plays Darlene. Her partners in crime are Cameron Mitchell, appearing in what looks to me like the body make-up he might have been wearing for a side gig as Othello between shootings, who plays Lyle; and Ivor Salter, known by fans of British television, who plays Dolph, the cigar-smoking evil grinner who does away with Lyle (or thinks he does) so that he can take his share of the mil as well as his share of Darlene. Cherchez la femme. Toujours.

Things then get more complicated than I care to describe. We meet a couple of other characters at the hotel before the principles embark to an island mansion for some low-laying. There we meet still more characters and soon we find ourselves in a "One of us is a murderer" style mystery as people start dropping dead. I read one blogger compare this movie to 10 Little Indians, but I kept getting Beat The Devil vibes - another movie I glance at more than watch when it is on - though the two are not much alike really, and while I wished Gina Lollobrigida would somehow appear, still there is Jayne. We will not, it turns out, get all that much of the things we like to watch Jayne for but, she's Jayne. 

The black and white photography is rich and crisp, with a broad range of tones and deep focus most of the time, which kept me watching, if only half-heartedly. I liked the look of it. The locales were appealing, with scenic shots from Yugoslavia and possibly other places I can't confirm. The music, when there is music, is often that kind of 60s jazzy muzak that you get in in the lower budget movies and TV of the time, with the notable exception of some stage music featuring piano boogie to which Jayne twists and Cam reacts psychotically (not to Jayne but to the piano player). I didn't catch why.

It was shot in 1963 as a German or Austrian production titled Einer frisst den anderen (An Act of Violence) though it did not get an American release until summer of '66. Jayne said it was her best role and really, she isn't bad in it. Cam made a lot of European stuff in those days just for the money, I remember him saying to an interviewer, so he could pay alimony. This is almost certainly an alimony movie. 

It's a pleasant enough piece to put on the TV screen and is probably worth a more attentive viewing than I gave it. I found it streaming on Shout Factory. 

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Good review. Your description of the cinematography as rich and crisp makes me think I should give it another chance. I saw it on a dismal VHS copy years ago; it's amazing how tolerant we were of crummy prints in those days, just to be able to watch it at home.

Jayne doing the twist is always a treat. I think she must have thought that because it's so free-form that she'd automatically look good doing it. Think again, Jayne. 

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6 hours ago, DougieB said:

Good review. Your description of the cinematography as rich and crisp makes me think I should give it another chance. I saw it on a dismal VHS copy years ago; it's amazing how tolerant we were of crummy prints in those days, just to be able to watch it at home.

Jayne doing the twist is always a treat. I think she must have thought that because it's so free-form that she'd automatically look good doing it. Think again, Jayne. 

Thank you, Douglas. I'm very forgiving if something looks good. It provides an ambience I can enjoy even if I'm not following the details. 

Jayne looked nice, I thought. Three months or so into her pregnancy, I read. I found after I posted that her voice was dubbed in the American release but she sounds like Jayne here, and the lip movement matched the dialogue from what I could tell.

I still don't know why they wanted Cameron to look darker. 

Let me know your thoughts if you decide to give it a go. 

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I definitely agree that a good-looking movie can be enjoyable even if it falls short in other ways. Your description made me see there's more there than I realized so I think I'll check it out. Plus I just have to see her chomping on the thousand dollar bill!(even though it looks like Monopoly money)

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1 hour ago, DougieB said:

I definitely agree that a good-looking movie can be enjoyable even if it falls short in other ways. Your description made me see there's more there than I realized so I think I'll check it out. Plus I just have to see her chomping on the thousand dollar bill!(even though it looks like Monopoly money)

When I went searching for photos to post that particular screen grab was readily available. 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 3/24/2022 at 1:01 AM, LuckyDan said:

 

Jayne looked nice, I thought. Three months or so into her pregnancy, I read. I found after I posted that her voice was dubbed in the American release but she sounds like Jayne here, and the lip movement matched the dialogue from what I could tell.

I was thinking as I watched that it sounds like Jayne, but maybe not quite, and then I remembered you'd mentioned the dubbing. It seems to be the same voice which provided the narration for The Wild, Wild World of Jayne Mansfield, which I'd assumed for years was hers because it was so uncannily "right". It makes sense that on foreign productions with an international cast the whole thing would ultimately be dubbed into different versions for different markets, but now I'm wondering if the calm, even voice we hear in the dubbed version may be giving Jayne some of the credit for a performance. Dubbing is an art which in the rights hands can cover a multitude of sins, sort of an earlier equivalent of "fixing it in post". In the opening sequence she appears unhinged rolling round on the bed with the money...Crackers, as you so accurately quoted. In general, I think Jayne always tended to put too much into a performance, so the evenness of the dubbed speaking voice we hear could be mistaken for a measured delineation of character on her part. I know, I shouldn't be so suspicious, especially since I'm usually rooting for Jayne. (She recorded an album of classical poetry set to classical music called Shakespeare, Tchaikovsky and Me, which was simultaneously a hoot and a very respectable job of interpreting esoteric material.)  

You mentioned Beat The Devil and I can see that in the overall look and feel. I liked the ambience of the oceanside mansion on the cliff, which seemed right out of Tennessee Williams' The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore, with the dying old lady and her servant visited by a weird cast of characters. (The movie version was BOOM! with Liz and Dick, and Noel Coward as "The Witch of Capri.") A moment which interested me was when Jayne was talking to the servant on the patio (after the discussion about her panties...Those damn panties kept coming up!) and he said "You don't know what life is like here.", to which she replied "Don't kid yourself. I know what life is like everywhere. Have you ever been to Biloxi?" I don't know if it's an actual irony, but Biloxi was where she died in the crash.

I get what you meant by it being too complicated to describe. It's one of those movies you count as a notch on your movie-watching belt and move on. I'm a Jayne fan but not a completest, though if stupid is your thing you should track down Las Vegas Hillbillies with Jayne and Mamie Van Doren. Anyway, you picked the one right word to describe it...Crackers!

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18 minutes ago, DougieB said:

It makes sense that on foreign productions with an international cast the whole thing would ultimately be dubbed into different versions for different markets, but now I'm wondering if the calm, even voice we hear in the dubbed version may be giving Jayne some of the credit for a performance. Dubbing is an art which in the rights hands can cover a multitude of sins, sort of an earlier equivalent of "fixing it in post".  

...

A moment which interested me was when Jayne was talking to the servant on the patio (after the discussion about her panties...Those damn panties kept coming up!) and he said "You don't know what life is like here.", to which she replied "Don't kid yourself. I know what life is like everywhere. Have you ever been to Biloxi?" I don't know if it's an actual irony, but Biloxi was where she died in the crash.

The dubbed voice acting enhanced her performance. I had the same thought when I learned of it. 

I didn't catch the Biloxi line but it is cruelly ironic. She died en route to New Orleans but yes, she had just left Biloxi.

I think I did find the Hillbillies at one point, or saw a scene from it. Unwatchable as I recall, even with Mamie and Jayne. 

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