Jayne Mansfield’s Car is Billy Bob Thornton first directorial effort in 13 years. In this “look back” ensemble film, he returns to the south, the area of the country he started off in. And he’s gathered a very impressive cadre of actors to help him bring the film that he co-wrote with Tom Epperson.
Thornton has left the world of directing alone for quite a while, despite the high praise that his 1996 debut film Sling Blade received. When award time came around his first film got an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay and he was nominated for Best Actor.
But the last feature film he directed was back in 2001 with the film Daddy and Them. Now it looks as though he’s returned to this director’s roots with another southern film.
Jayne Mansfield’s Car is set in 1969 Alabama and it follows a southern family who have to interact with an English family. What the two families have in common is a recently deceased estranged wife from the Alabama family who happened to be married to “that English B*****d when she died. Old wounds are reopened and both family’s learn from each other.
The trailer, which we’ve included below show the stellar cast that Thornton gathered: Robert Duvall, John Hurt, Kevin Bacon, Robert Patrick, Ray Stevenson, Frances O’Connor, Ron White, and Katherine LaNasa and of course Thornton himself. Robert Duvall plays the Alabama patriarch and John Hurt the head of the English family.
Jayne Mansfield’s Car appears to be Billy Bob Thornton’s return to the south in an attempt to capture the essence of the world where he was born.
The 57 year-old Arkansas writer/director and actor is using the film to explore the intricacies of family life and how secrets and disappointments can affect everyone whether they come from the American south or from far-off England.
His ensemble film looks to be filled with eccentric yet familiar characters from the cotton belt of America. With the trailer’s focus on car accidents and the iconic image of Jayne Mansfield’s Car forming a backdrop to the story, Thornton seems to be using the imagery to show that both families are in the same throes of discourse.
Luckily for Billy Bob Thornton, the budget for his latest directorial effort appears to be fairly small. In the past he has not enjoyed working on a big budget film. On the experience of working on the 2000 film All the Pretty Horses, he has explained that it was not a pleasant time for him in the “big chair.” He said, “Yes, I experienced that one time, I’ve only done one big-budget movie as a director. And there is much more interference, to the point where it shows you that if there’s something wrong in the film business – that’s what it is. Not to say that there aren’t good big-budget movies, and that it can’t be done, and some people aren’t interfered with.”
If the trailer is anything to go by, Jayne Mansfield’s Car looks like Billy Bob Thornton has returned to the south and his roots. It looks like he may just replicate the success he had with his directorial debut film, Sling Blade. Watch the trailer and see what you think.
By Michael Smith