Pros:casting, direction, script, costumes, humor
Cons:sometimes dated or self-conscious
"Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?" is a satire that sharpens its knives on television, advertising, and the company ladder. Surprisingly, the humor has aged well, and the satire still works.
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The plot has advertising writer Rock Hunter (Tony Randall) struggling to improve his position at a company whose president appears to openly despise him. He is attempting to marry girl-next-door Jenny (Betsy Drake), and raise a pretty teenager (who is conveniently a niece). His big break comes when he convinces movie sex symbol Rita Marlowe (Jayne Mansfield) to sponsor an ad campaign. This endorsement does wonders for his career, but threatens his engagement to Jenny, as Marlowe has plans of her own for Hunter.
By the mid-1950s, television was increasingly important to American society. Fewer people were going to the movies. While actors and writers welcomed the extra work, the movie studios were threatened by the new media.
"Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter" could have been a paranoid diatribe against television, but the parody is softened by the presence of Randall, who appears alternately innocent and bewildered throughout. One scene has Randall walking in oversized clothes and platform shoes, and it's a hoot. Randall's rising career is epitomized by his receiving the key to the executive washroom, and you would think it is the key to heaven's gate given the look on his face.
Jayne Mansfield is an obvious Marilyn Monroe clone, complete with blonde hair, large bust, and affected whispering voice. Her trademark is an extended, high-pitched squeal. Mansfield would be miscast in a serious drama, but she is fine in a parody, where her character and her adoring fans can be lampooned. Mansfield imitated Monroe offscreen as well, going through several marriages and dying in her thirties.
One thing has certainly changed over the years, and that is Hollywood's treatment of alcohol. The characters of "Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter" drink freely, even at work, and a scene where Randall gets plastered is intended to be humorous. Alas, they don't make 'em like they used to. (85/100)