Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Cinema Tuesdays {Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?}

*clears throat* Ladies and Gentlemen, this is Rockwell P. Hunter, the star of our story. He's just your average grey flannel suit who works as a television writer at a failing advertising agency. He is, however, about to be fired. If he cannot come up with a new campaign for Stay-Put Lipstick, his agency's biggest client will then withdraw their account and the agency will fold.
What will Rockwell Hunter do? After all, he has his niece to care for,
and he would like to be able to afford to get married to his dependable secretary.

Suddenly he has a brain wave while he's watching that new medium, Coloured Television:

Lovely Rita Marlowe, the star with the "oh so kissable lips". If Rock Hunter could get her endorsement then everything will be saved.
And Miss Marlowe (just your typical American girl who happens to be a movie star) has just arrived by plane to New York, where she will be in seclusion and setting up her own production company.
Our Hero rushes over to her hotel, but before he can make his pitch, his voice is used in order to make Rita Marlowe's boyfriend, Bobo, jealous.
The next morning, Bobo has revealed to the press the identity of Rita Marlowe's new "lover doll". Miss Marlowe makes a deal with poor Rock Hunter: if he plays along with the free publicity, then she will advertise Stay-Put Lipstick.
Overnight, Rockwell Hunter has become a celebrity for doing absolutely nothing.
Rita Marlowe and Rock Hunter embark on a world tour for the purpose of carefully staged photo-ops, handled by Miss Marlowe's studio,
in order to disguise any evidence that celebrities are just like real people. Upon their return to New York, Rockwell Hunter finds that he has been promoted in his absence.
He now has a larger office and an even bigger desk,
a new secretary, who's willingly to do anything he wants.
But most important of all- the key to the Executive Washroom! The only true symbol of success.
But, is Rockwell Hunter happy with his new success?
He may be famous all over the world.
And he now advertises the products he once wrote slogans for.
And he has a mob of well-dressed teenaged girls waiting for him outside his door.
And a glamourous film star and her matching poodle believing that he truly is Lover Boy. But is he content with being a celebrity? Is he willing to give up his fame and success in order to win back his fiancee? Or has success spoiled Rock Hunter?
And what of George Schmidlap, Rita Marlowe's true love whom she is only trying to replace by making over Bobo and Rockwell. Will the mysterious George Schmidlap finally return to marry Rita Marlowe? You Bet Your Life he will!

But in all seriousness folks, this is a hilarious film. Not only does it spoof the nature of fame, but it also satirizes advertising and television. Like the film the director and screenwriter Frank Tashlin did the year previously, Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter really attacks the level of popularity that television had in 1957 as opposed to going out to the movies. And you have Tony Randall breaking the fourth wall and addressing the audience a few times. It's also based on a Broadway play which starred Jayne Mansfield and was written by George Axelrod, who also wrote The Seven Year Itch.
There's also a wonderful musical number about halfway through that will stick in your head.

Betsy Drake, then married to Cary Grant, plays the secretary Jenny. I really can't stand Betsy Drake (she's too bland and can't really act) and thankfully, she's not in a lot of the really long scenes.
Here she is doing a funny impression of Jayne Mansfield and her squeal.
And she's quite good at storming into elevators.

I really like that scarf and belt combo.

Joan Blondell is as fantastic as ever playing the secretary/best friend of Jayne Mansfield. And yes, she does get the guy in the end.

And the dog really does match all of Jayne Mansfield's outfits and almost steals the show from her.
Look, you used to be able to sleep in a bed on an aeroplane. Of course that was back when they also served food and changed the cabin air supply regularly.
I really think that Jayne Mansfield is at her very best in this film, playing the role that she played best: Jayne Mansfield.
Here's the trailer:

1 comment:

Andi B. Goode said...

OK, so, I have to see this film!!
-Andi x