In this spoof of the TV advertising industry, Rockwell Hunter is the low man on the totem pole at the advertising company where he works. That is, until he finds the perfect spokes model for Stay-Put lipstick, the famous actress with the oh-so-kissable lips, Rita Marlowe. Unfortunately, in exchange, Rock has to act publicly as Rita's "Loverdoll", and Rock's fiancée Jenny isn't too happy about it either. Written by
Syam Gadde <email@example.com>
A fantastic satire of the modern world of business. Tony Randall stars as Rockwell Hunter, a writer for television advertisements. He's not really making it at his job, and is about to go under. By a couple of coincidences, he finds out where Hollywood starlette, Rita Marlowe (Jayne Mansfield), is hiding out in New York and thinks he can convince her to endorse a certain kind of lipstick. When Hunter arrives at Marlowe's apartment, she uses him to make her boyfriend, the star of a television Tarzan show, jealous. The boyfriend reveals Marlowe's secret love affair to the tabloids, and, in an instant, Rock has been reborn as "Loverboy" (no, not the '70s rock group), and the girls go wild over him. He's famous, and thus begins his meteoric rise to his company's presidency. But the further up he goes, the more he realizes that this was never what he wanted, despite what he once thought. The moral of the story is a bit pedestrian, but it's one that ought to be reinforced at times. It's also delivered in quite an original way. The film is full of the kind of innovations that the undervalued Frank Tashlin was so good at. Particularly memorable is the mid-movie dig at television. Television is a constant target in the film - it was presumably making the lives of many in Hollywood a bit miserable. At the halfway point of Rock Hunter, Tony Randall pops out from behind a curtain to address those in the audience who are more the type to watch television than go to the movies. "I wanted to interrupt the film you are watching so the T.V. people can feel at home."
The acting in the film is universally superb. I would never have imagined that Tony Randall could carry a movie, especially playing an everyman (I always think of him as a prissy, refined gentleman), but he does a great job. I saw Frank Tashlin's The Girl Can't Help It just last week. It also stars Jayne Mansfield, and I thought she was pretty bad. They tried to make her too sweet in that film. Here, she's more wicked, and thus a hundred times sexier. Mansfield is hilarious at times, especially with that little high-pitched squeal she does. It should get old, but it's very cute and always funny. When I was exiting the theater, there were a handful of women trying to duplicate the sound, unsuccessfully. The supporting cast is also wonderful, especially Henry Jones as Hunter's immediate boss.
The film does have a couple of problems. The script seems to forget about characters every once in a while. Although she seems important in the beginning, Rock's niece, April, basically drops off for most of the film. Likewise his fiancée (the one before Rita Marlowe appears, that is), Jenny. She comes back near the end, but her role is minimized quite a bit in the middle. Even Mansfield drops out near the end. The subplot which strictly involves her is resolved rather poorly, with a cameo appearance that should have carried more weight and really should have been funnier. All in all, though, Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? is a great success. 9/10.
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