Plot: Rockwell Hunter (Tony Randall) has had some success as an ad man, but his recent commercials and ad campaigns haven’t done so well. In need of a hit to save not only the account of a big client in Stay-Put lipstick, but also his own job, Hunter knows he needs to come up with a home run concept. Thanks to a lucky break found through his niece, Hunter winds up with an inside track to Rita Marlowe (Jayne Mansfield), one of the biggest stars in Hollywood. As it happens, she is currently in a tiff with her movie star boyfriend, so when Hunter shows up at her door, she uses the ad man to make her beau jealous. This turn of events lands Hunter a big name for the Stay-Put account, but he’s also now drawn into a tabloid style romance that has spun his life upside down in the process. Can Hunter navigate the situation to retain Marlowe’s endorsement and keep his personal life from falling apart?
Entertainment Value: This movie was a box office bomb, but as time passed, Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? has become a genuine comedy classic and with good reason, as it is consistently hilarious. The narrative is fine, but I think it is the characters that make the movie work so well and of course, the script’s take no prisoners satire of all kinds of social elements. The opening credits are brilliant, skewering the world of television commercials and the ad business is a frequent target, but the film takes aim on ample others as well. I also appreciate that the writing doesn’t just poke at the ads or the people who create them, but also the consumer base that eats up the ads and product, so no one is safe from the satire. And the writing is razor sharp, with excellent dialogue and memorable characters, all wrapped in a light, but very smart sense of humor that keeps you entertained from start to finish. The cast deserves a lot of praise as well, since this talented ensemble takes the already superb material to the next level, with hilarious performances. A bold, often subversive and always brilliant comedy, Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter is highly recommended.
The cast here is simply magical, an impressive collection of talent and the performers are right in step with the material. This ensures that the skilled cast and brilliant script each elevate the other, so two excellent aspects of the movie are allowed to rise to an even higher level of greatness. Tony Randall has one of the leads and he runs with the role, turning in a wonderful effort that showcases his charm and screen presence, as well as his sharp comedic senses. His turn is of course a little over the top, but that is the nature of the material and he does what he needs to do, which is be magnetic and above all else, hilarious. Jayne Mansfield dials up her effort as starlet Rita Marlowe as well, with a squeaky, but irresistible presence that makes sure the satiric element of her character is evident and super fun to watch. But in truth, it is the always remarkable Joan Blondell who often steals the show and while her role is a supporting one, she shines here and makes the most of every last scene. The cast also includes Betsy Drake, Mickey Hartigay, Henry Jones, and John Williams.
The Disc: Twilight Time has released this one on Blu-ray, in a limited edition that offers a vibrant, clean presentation that fans should devour. The print looks almost brand new, with little signs of age whatsoever, but the natural texture is still present. In other words, this is super clean, but not scrubbed into oblivion as sometimes happens. The colors are a standout here as well, with vivid and rich hues throughout, while black levels are consistent and accurate. I found detail to be sharp and a sizable, welcome improvement over the DVD edition I have seen. The extras include an informative audio commentary from a film historian, an isolated music track, some interesting Fox Movietone newsreels, and the film’s trailer.