Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?

Frank Tashlin gave new meaning to the phrase “broad comedy,” exploiting the possibilities of the CinemaScope frame like no other comic director. Laden with Brechtian gags and very fifties linguistic tics, his masterpiece is a brilliantly composed ode to and exposé of the media business, which is to say American culture. Tony Randall plays Rockwell Hunter, a midlevel TV adman who can only dream of winning the key to the executive washroom-until he lands the endorsement of mock-Marilyn Rita Marlowe (Jayne Mansfield) for the Stay-Put Lipstick account. In need of a lover for public purposes, Rita chooses the convenient Rock (“his name sounds very influential”) and suddenly he's the biggest thing since chlorophyll, a cartoon figure of manhood in an oversized suit and elevator shoes. “Success will fit you like a shroud,” prophesies the prexy of the agency. But don't worry, everything will be solvey-solvey.

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