Sunday, April 5, 2015

Female Comic Strip Character Movie No. 6: JANE

Artist Pett, Leighton-Porter and Fritz

When I started this series of post over a year ago, I thought I would have to skip over a 1987 film based on the racy British WWII comic strip Jane. I could only find the trailer on Youtube and a news reel about the strip's artist, Norman Pett, promoting the comic strip.

The good news is I found both the first Jane film and the 1987 film. Now the bad news, I found both the first Jane film and the 1987 film.

Click to Enlarge and see Jane's panties

Click To Enlarge and see Jane's panties

First off, Jane (which debuted in 1932 in The Daily Mirror with the cumbersome title of  Jane's Journal or Diary of a Bright Young Thing)  was kind of a one note comic strip, with emphasis on strip. The reason for its popularity in England and its failure in the United States was due to the running gag of Jane losing her clothes or undressing. Jane's dress would get caught in the doors on a train, doors on an elevator, a nail or shrubbery and they would be torn off exposing Jane's brassiere and granny panties. Surprisingly, both films include this gag.

Jane loses her skirt in the 1949 film

In the 1949 film, entitled The Adventures of Jane, Jane is played by Chrystabel Leighton-Porter, the model who posed for Norman Pett.  By her own admission, she said she couldn't act and the movie was awful. Interestingly enough, the producers try to pass her off as the real Jane.

The best way to describe this film is dry and dull. An old man, who is a fan of Jane's burlesque act, gives her a bracelet. Her boyfriend, Tom, is a humorless dick, in more ways than one. He gets jealous then tells her it is fake. He then brings up that he is on the trail of a gang of jewel thieves.

You would think that would make an exciting film, but it doesn't. This is an hour of wasted film. There is an interesting effect for a car wreck near the end of the film. This movie makes everything tedious. There is a beauty contest (featuring 3 or 4 girl prettier than Chrystabel Leighton-Porter, but that is just me) which is boring. Most of the last portion of the film seems to be a long sequence of Fritz the dachshund running for help, accompanied by stock music that was in some of the Famous Studios cartoons.

Even though I am a fan of British films, I only recognized two of the actors in this film. Carry On regular Peter Butterworth plays a drunk, who is supposed to be comedy relief, but it is too forced.

Mr. French plays French guy

Then there is the Frenchman who nearly cries when a customs agent marks on his suitcase with chalk. I said to myself, "WAIT A MINUTE! THAT FRENCHMAN IS MR. FRENCH!" Yep! Sebastian Cabot, star of Family Affair, Checkmate and Ghost Story, has a small part. He and Butterworth are the biggest stars in this movie.

Jane And The Lost City is much more fun, but still not an award winning film by any degree. This film was made in 1987 during a time in which Jane was experiencing a nostalgia revival. In the early part of the 80s, the BBC ran a Jane TV series, in which the action took place inside comic strip box frame.

This movie was probably made to compete with the film Brenda Starr, which had already been announced but was not released until 1989. The film is played as a comedy, and unlike the 1949 version is very funny at times. This time Jane is played by the incredibly cute Kristen Hughes (above), who looks great in granny panties and nylons.

Jane, working with her boss, The Colonel, go to Africa to look for the giant diamonds of the Lost City, in hopes to get them before the Nazis' top agent, Lola Pagola (Maude Adams). After their plane crashes, Jane, The Colonel and his valet, Mr. Toombs, are rescued by Jungle Jack Buck, played by Sam J. Jones (Flash Gordon, The Spirit, Ted). Jungle Jack is an improvement over Tom the Dick, as Jones plays Jack as a smiling, would-be Indiana Jones.

One could make the complaint that this tries too hard to be funny. There is are Nazi triplets, all played by Jasper Carrott, who comes off as a poor man's Rowan Atkinson. The Lost City's Leopard Queen turns out to be a girl Jane knew from college. The film is also filled with references to films such Casablanca, Raiders of the Lost Ark, To Have and Have Not, The Mummy and Goliath and the Sins of Babylon. Jane loses her clothes more in this film, including a scene where a monkey tears them off.

Obviously, I recommend the 1987 film more. It is actually more enjoyable. Now let me leave you with a photo of both movie Janes together and fully clothed, during the making of the 1987 film.

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