Promises! Promises!

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This article is about the 1963 film. For other uses, see Promises, Promises (disambiguation).
Promises! Promises!
Promises promises poster 02.jpg
Promotional film poster
Directed by King Donovan
Produced by Tommy Noonan
Donald F. Taylor
Written by Tommy Noonan
William Welch
Based on The Plant 
by Edna Sheklow
Starring Jayne Mansfield
Marie McDonald
Tommy Noonan
Mickey Hargitay
Fritz Feld
T. C. Jones
Music by Hal Borne
Cinematography Joseph F. Biroc
Edited by Edward Dutko
Production
company
Noonan-Taylor Productions
Distributed by NTD
Release dates
  • August 15, 1963 (1963-08-15)
Running time
75 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $400,000[1]

Promises! Promises! is a 1963 unrated sex comedy film, released after the days of the Hays code and before the MPAA film rating system became effective, produced by Tommy Noonan. It was the first Hollywood motion picture release of the sound era to feature a mainstream star—Jayne Mansfield—in the nude.

Production[edit]

Made on a modest budget, the film's publicity centered on Mansfield's nude scenes as the main attraction. She also sings two songs in the film – "I'm in Love" (also known as the "Lullaby of Love") and "Promise Her Anything".[2] The production went through so much bickering between producer and actor Tommy Noonan and Mansfield that Noonan had to fly in Jet Fore, a publicist from 20th Century Fox, to keep peace on the set.[3]

Ceil Chapman worked on Marie McDonald’s wardrobe for the film.[4]

The film was presented for the first time on television in its uncut form in 1984 on the Playboy Channel. The film was one of only several dozen sound films to have been released in full-length form on Super 8mm in the 1970s. The film was released on VHS and Beta videotape in the 1980s. On February 14, 2006, VCI Video released the film on DVD with extras such as original trailers and a gallery of stills from the Playboy issue along with never before released lobby cards.

Plot[edit]

Sandy Brooks (Mansfield) is desperate to get pregnant, but her husband Jeff (Tommy Noonan), a television script writer, is too stressed out to make love to her. In an attempt at a sea change, they go on a pleasure cruise and meet another couple, Claire and King Banner (Marie McDonald and Mickey Hargitay).[5] Both couples set out on a drunken spree. They end up changing partners when retiring to their rooms. Later both women discover that they're pregnant, and set out to find whether the fathers are their own or the other's husband.[5]

Nude scenes[edit]

Mansfield and Tommy Noonan in the most repeated nude scene of the movie

It was the first Hollywood motion picture release of the sound era to feature a mainstream star—Jayne Mansfield—in the nude.[6] That distinction was to have gone to Marilyn Monroe, who shot a nude scene for director George Cukor's Something's Got to Give in 1962, but the film went unfinished after Monroe's death. The first movie featuring a mainstream star fully nude was A Daughter of the Gods (1916) featuring Annette Kellerman, but the Hays code had brought an end to nudity in mainstream American films.[6]

Mansfield appears undressed in three scenes in Promises! Promises!. These three scenes are repeated a few times in the movie as dream sequences. The first and longest (59 seconds) in a part of the scene where she sings "I'm In Love" semi-nude in a foam filled bathtub, then bends over with her back to the camera.[2][7] The second when she towels herself off (4 seconds), and the most repeated (4 times) third when she writhes around on a bed (6 seconds).[7] Mansfield reportedly drank some champagne in order to give her the will to get undressed in front of the camera.[8]

Though the film actually showed her only topless, a photo in Kenneth Anger's book Hollywood Babylon shows Mansfield on the set completely nude with pubic hair visible.[9]

During the 1960s, 8 mm mail order companies sold the nude footage.[2] After Mansfield's death, the documentary The Wild, Wild World of Jayne Mansfield (1968) included nude scenes from this film and pages from the Playboy pictorial, along with scenes from her other films including Too Hot to Handle (1960), The Loves of Hercules (1960) and L'Amore Primitivo (1964).[10]

Playboy[edit]

In a set of photographs published in a Playboy pictorial (titled The Nudest Jayne Mansfield), Mansfield stares at her breast, as does T. C. Jones (Babbette, a female impersonator hair stylist), then grasps it in her hand and lifts it high.[11][12] The publicity and advanced blurbs on Playboy put Mansfield's name out as a major box office draw, though reviews of the film were next to disastrous.[13] However, most of the offers that she received were largely of similar skin flicks.[14] The film was heavily publicized in the July 1963 issue of Playboy, and led to an obscenity charge against Hugh Hefner, the publisher.[9] Hefner was arrested by the Chicago police in June 1963, the only time in his life, and was acquitted by the jury.[15] The jury voted 7-5 for acquittal.[16] Copies of the issue reportedly sold for as much as $10 each.[17]

Reception[edit]

Promises! Promises! was banned in Cleveland and several other cities,[18] though later the Cleveland court decided the nude scenes in the film were not lewd after all.[19] Both the original and an edited version enjoyed box office success in places where it was not banned,[18] except for California.[2] Mansfield was voted one of the Top 10 Box Office Attractions by theater owners that year.[20] Chicago Sun-Times movie critic Roger Ebert wrote, "Finally in Promises! Promises! she does what no Hollywood star ever does except in desperation. She does a nudie. In 1963, that kind of box office appeal was all she had left."[21]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ TOMMY NOONAN: A TYRO AT FILM PRODUCTION BUT A TERROR WITH PURSE STRINGS Alpert, Don. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 03 Feb 1963: B4
  2. ^ a b c d Faris, Jocelyn (1994). Jayne Mansfield: a bio-bibliography. ABC-CLIO. p. 94. ISBN 0-313-28544-6. 
  3. ^ Raymond Strait, Here They Are Jayne Mansfield, page 146, SP Books, 1992, ISBN 1-56171-146-2
  4. ^ "Filmography by type for Ceil Chapman". IMDB. The Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 19 May 2011. 
  5. ^ a b Brennan, Sandra (2006-11-25). "Promises! Promises!". The New York Times. Retrieved 2006-11-25. 
  6. ^ a b Black, Gregory D. (January 26, 1996). Hollywood Censored: Morality Codes, Catholics, and the Movies (Cambridge Studies in the History of Mass Communication). Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-56592-8. 
  7. ^ a b Craig Hosoda, The Bare Facts Video Guide, page 137, Bare Facts, 1991, ISBN 0-9625474-2-5
  8. ^ "Promises! Promises! (1963)". IMDB. Retrieved 2006-11-23. 
  9. ^ a b Anger, Kenneth (November 15, 1981). Hollywood Babylon: The Legendary Underground Classic of Hollywood's Darkest and Best Kept Secrets. USA: Dell (Reissue edition). ISBN 0-440-15325-5. 
  10. ^ Quarles, Mike. Down and Dirty: Hollywood's Exploitation Filmmakers and Their Movies. p. 27. 
  11. ^ Parish, James Robert (May 28, 2004). The Hollywood Book of Scandals : The Shocking, Often Disgraceful Deeds and Affairs of Over 100 American Movie and TV Idols. USA: McGraw-Hill. ISBN 0-07-142189-0. 
  12. ^ Mann, May (1973). Jayne Mansfield: A biography. Drake Publishers. p. 129. ISBN 0-87749-415-0. 
  13. ^ Strait, Raymond (1992). Here They Are Jayne Mansfield. SP Books. p. 165. ISBN 1-56171-146-2. 
  14. ^ Strait, Raymond (1992). Here They Are Jayne Mansfield. SP Books. p. 248. ISBN 1-56171-146-2. 
  15. ^ "Has Hef ever been arrested?". Playboy Online. Retrieved 2006-11-29. 
  16. ^ Edward P. Comentale, Ian Fleming and James Bond: The Cultural Politics of 007, page 57
  17. ^ "Jayne Mansfield Biography - Part Nine: Taking it off". Bombshells. Retrieved 2006-11-29. 
  18. ^ a b Dirks, Tim. "Sex in Cinema: The Greatest and Most Influential Erotic / Sexual Films and Scenes". Film Site. Retrieved 2006-11-23. 
  19. ^ Strait, Raymond (1992). Here They Are Jayne Mansfield. SP Books. p. 209. ISBN 1-56171-146-2. 
  20. ^ Faris, Jocelyn (1994). Jayne Mansfield: a bio-bibliography. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood. p. 10. 
  21. ^ Ebert, Roger (June 30, 1967). "Miss Mansfield's Film Career: Cast as a carbon copy". Chicago Sun-Times (Chicago). p. 46. 

External links[edit]