Joi Lansing was a model, actress and singer, who reached a degree of prominance during the 1960s as one of many second division Marilyn / Jayne / Mamie substitutes, noted for her platinum blonde hair and 34D chest that was usually emphasised by skimpy, figure-hugging costumes. Interesting, despite her sexpot image, she was a devout Mormon and didn’t drink, smoke or do drugs, and never posed nude.
Her film career began earlier, when she was around eighteen years old in 1947, but was mainly made up of small, blink-and-you’ll-miss-her roles. She appeared in Touch of Evil and Queen of Outer Space, before graduating to larger parts in The Atomic Submarine and Marriage on the Rocks, before reaching the dizzy heights of lead roles in Hillbillys in the Haunted House (where she replaced Mamie van Doren) and Bigfoot at the end of the 1960s.
She also began singing in nightclubs in the early 1960s, and eventually cut a few 45s, most of which were never released. But around the same time, she recorded a couple of numbers for the Scopitones movie jukebox system, where 16mm film reels of lip-synced songs could be played in bars and clubs for paying customers.
Scopitones clips are, in general, extraordinary slices of camp nostalgia. But The Web of Love might well be the greatest ‘music video’ of all time. Here, a sultry Lansing sings a superb song of sexual obsession, while the anonymous director does a fine job of literal visual interpretation of every single lyric. The result is magnificent, as you can see below.
Sadly, Lansing’s life and career were cut short, when she died of breast cancer in 1972, aged just 43.
And in case you think that the genius of this might be a fluke, here’s Lansing performing the almost as good The Silencer for Scopitones a year earlier. Like The Web of Love, it’s high on melodrama and kitsch, and in 1965, must’ve already seemed oddly archaic.
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