Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? (1957)

90 or 94 mins | Romantic comedy | August 1957

Director:

Frank Tashlin

Producer:

Frank Tashlin

Cinematographer:

Joseph MacDonald

Editor:

Hugh S. Fowler

Production Designers:

Lyle Wheeler, Leland Fuller

Production Company:

Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
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HISTORY

The working title of this film was Oh! For a Man! The film's opening credits are presented by Tony Randall, who introduces himself to the audience and plays all the musical instruments used in the Twentieth Century-Fox fanfare. Then as a series of comic commercial pitches appear on one side of the screen, Randall snaps his fingers, and the names Jayne Mansfield, Betsy Drake and Joan Blondell flash on the other side. When Randall pretends to forget the name of the film, the images of Mansfield, Drake and Blondell fade into focus and chime in unison " Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? ." The device of using commercials interspersed with written credits continues throughout the opening. Frank Tashlin's credits are represented as "produced and directed by Frank Tashlin." The plot of the film then formally begins with Tony Randall, as "Rock Hunter," introducing the characters in a voice-over narration. Approximately halfway through the film, Rock interrupts the plot with an intermission to "accomodate TV fans accustomed to constant interruptions." His voice-over narration also concludes the picture as he enumerates the fate of the characters and closes with the words "The Very Living End."
       The plot of the film differs significantly from that of the play. In an interview published in a modern source, Tashlin claimed that Fox bought the rights to the play to secure the services of Jayne Mansfield. A Jan 1956 HR news item supports his statement by noting that the studio paid $150,000 for the screen rights, which included the provision that Mansfield reprise her Broadway role of "Rita Marlowe." Tashlin stated that he disliked the play, ... More Less

The working title of this film was Oh! For a Man! The film's opening credits are presented by Tony Randall, who introduces himself to the audience and plays all the musical instruments used in the Twentieth Century-Fox fanfare. Then as a series of comic commercial pitches appear on one side of the screen, Randall snaps his fingers, and the names Jayne Mansfield, Betsy Drake and Joan Blondell flash on the other side. When Randall pretends to forget the name of the film, the images of Mansfield, Drake and Blondell fade into focus and chime in unison " Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? ." The device of using commercials interspersed with written credits continues throughout the opening. Frank Tashlin's credits are represented as "produced and directed by Frank Tashlin." The plot of the film then formally begins with Tony Randall, as "Rock Hunter," introducing the characters in a voice-over narration. Approximately halfway through the film, Rock interrupts the plot with an intermission to "accomodate TV fans accustomed to constant interruptions." His voice-over narration also concludes the picture as he enumerates the fate of the characters and closes with the words "The Very Living End."
       The plot of the film differs significantly from that of the play. In an interview published in a modern source, Tashlin claimed that Fox bought the rights to the play to secure the services of Jayne Mansfield. A Jan 1956 HR news item supports his statement by noting that the studio paid $150,000 for the screen rights, which included the provision that Mansfield reprise her Broadway role of "Rita Marlowe." Tashlin stated that he disliked the play, and so completely changed the story.
       The original play dealt with a young fan magazine writer who sold his soul to a Faustian Hollywood agent with Satanic powers. The character of Rock did not exist in the play, but was a character in a story within the play. Tashlin then excerpted this character and made him the protagonist of the film. According to a Jun 1957 HR news item, Tashlin decided to add the ending gag featuring Groucho Marx one month after the completion of filming. Modern sources note that Jerry Lewis was originally set to play the gag role, but producer Hal Wallis , who had Lewis under contract, vetoed his appearance in the film. An Apr 1957 HR production chart places Rachel Stevens and Judy Busch in the cast, but their appearance in the released picture has not been confirmed. Although a HR news item states that Tom Ewell, Clifton Webb and Thelma Ritter were cast in Nov 1956, they do not appear in the film. At the time of production, Mansfield and Mickey Hargitay were married. Tashlin had previously directed Mansfield in the 1956 film The Girl Can't Help It (see above). More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
3 Aug 1957.
---
Box Office
10 Aug 1957.
---
Daily Variety
29 Jul 57
p. 3.
Film Daily
29 Jul 57
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Jan 1956.
---
Hollywood Reporter
23 Nov 56
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Mar 57
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Apr 57
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Apr 57
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Jun 57
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Jun 57
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Jul 57
p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
3 Aug 57
p. 473.
New York Times
12 Sep 57
p. 37.
Variety
31 Jul 57
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
PRODUCER
WRITER
Screen story and scr
PHOTOGRAPHY
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
COSTUMES
Exec ward des
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec photog eff
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hair styles
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col consultant
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the play Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? by George Axelrod, as produced by Jule Styne (New York, 13 Oct 1955).
SONGS
"You've Got It Made," words and music by Bobby Troup.
COMPOSER
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Oh! For a Man!
Release Date:
August 1957
Production Date:
19 March--late April 1957
addl scenes mid June 1957
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Copyright Date:
26 July 1957
Copyright Number:
LP9312
Physical Properties:
Sound
Westrex Recording System
Color
De Luxe
Widescreen/ratio
CinemaScope
Lenses/Prints
lenses by Bausch & Lomb
Duration(in mins):
90 or 94
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
18548
SYNOPSIS

Rockwell P. Hunter, a middling Madison Avenue television commercial writer at the La Salle agency, eagerly awaits a raise so that he can marry secretary Jenny Wells. Rock's marriage plans are dashed, however, when his friend, Henry Rufus, the account executive for Stay Put lipstick, informs him that they have lost the account and are therefore "slated for the chute." With one last chance to woo Stay Put, Rock is encouraged by Jenny to think of something creative. Struggling for inspiration, Rock hits upon the idea of asking actress Rita Marlowe, Hollywood's "Goddess of Love," to endorse his product. Meanwhile, Rita is winging her way from Los Angeles to New York because the man of her dreams, actor Bobo Branejansky, the "Jungle Man," has left her for another woman. Rita's fan club, led by Rock's niece April, enthusiastically welcomes her at the airport. Eager to share his inspiration, Rock bursts into the office of Irving La Salle, Jr. and is promptly fired. Rock angrily insults La Salle and then stumbles out of the office and bumps into Mr. Ezzarus, the president of Stay Put. The impact causes Rock to drop his drawings, and after Rock departs, Ezzarus picks them up and scrutinizes them. To drown his sorrows, Rock visits the local tavern, where Jenny later finds him passed out under a table. Jenny bubbles that Ezzarus loved the campaign and will allow La Salle to keep the account on the condition that Rock win Rita's endorsement. After bribing April to divulge Rita's New York address, Rock hurries to her hotel room and finds her chiding Bobo on the telephone. To make ... +


Rockwell P. Hunter, a middling Madison Avenue television commercial writer at the La Salle agency, eagerly awaits a raise so that he can marry secretary Jenny Wells. Rock's marriage plans are dashed, however, when his friend, Henry Rufus, the account executive for Stay Put lipstick, informs him that they have lost the account and are therefore "slated for the chute." With one last chance to woo Stay Put, Rock is encouraged by Jenny to think of something creative. Struggling for inspiration, Rock hits upon the idea of asking actress Rita Marlowe, Hollywood's "Goddess of Love," to endorse his product. Meanwhile, Rita is winging her way from Los Angeles to New York because the man of her dreams, actor Bobo Branejansky, the "Jungle Man," has left her for another woman. Rita's fan club, led by Rock's niece April, enthusiastically welcomes her at the airport. Eager to share his inspiration, Rock bursts into the office of Irving La Salle, Jr. and is promptly fired. Rock angrily insults La Salle and then stumbles out of the office and bumps into Mr. Ezzarus, the president of Stay Put. The impact causes Rock to drop his drawings, and after Rock departs, Ezzarus picks them up and scrutinizes them. To drown his sorrows, Rock visits the local tavern, where Jenny later finds him passed out under a table. Jenny bubbles that Ezzarus loved the campaign and will allow La Salle to keep the account on the condition that Rock win Rita's endorsement. After bribing April to divulge Rita's New York address, Rock hurries to her hotel room and finds her chiding Bobo on the telephone. To make Bobo jealous, Rita pretends that she is romantically interested in Rock, whom she dubs "lover doll." To spite Rita, Bobo holds a press conference and announces that Rita has fallen in love with an ad agency executive named Lover Doll, but will come crawling back to him on her hands and knees. The next morning, Rock awakens to find the street in front of his apartment building mobbed with Rita's adoring fans. As Jenny, Rock's upstairs neighbor, aims a plant at his head, Rita squeals in a television interview that she has found love at first sight. Soon after, Rita appears at Rock's doorstep and offers to endorse Stay Put if Rock agrees to continue their romantic charade, thus boosting her publicity rating. Rita stages a number of publicity stunts to remake Rock in the image of "Lover Doll," and soon Bobo phones to apologize to her. Rita, however, has become addicted to Rock's kissing prowess, and decides that she is in love with him. Violet, Rita's companion, derides her employer's infatuation as delusional, insisting that Rita is still in love with Georgie Schmidlap, a small-time actor. Although Rock reassures Jenny that he still loves her, she attempts to mold herself into a semblance of Rita, buying padded bras and exercising herself to exhaustion. Mobbed by fans outside Rita's hotel one day, Rock slips down an open manhole and emerges with a shredded and soaked suit. Determined to snag Rock for herself, Rita redoubles her efforts to reshape him into the figure of a great lover, insisting that he wear elevator shoes for height and Bobo's broad-shouldered suit for breadth. The next day, Rock presents his employer with Rita's signed endorsement, and La Salle apologizes for his previous behavior and asks Rock to call him by his Christian name. La Salle then confides that in his heart he is a horticulturist and not an advertising man, and that he entered the business to please his overbearing father, whose portrait looms over the office. Rock replies that he had always wanted to raise chickens, but deemed it not important enough. Promoted to vice president and awarded the key to the executive washroom, Rock is overcome that he has finally achieved "executive status." When Rock tells Jenny that they can finally afford to get married, she imitates Rita's squeal and states they are "through." Rita and Rock then embark upon a world-wide publicity tour, sending Stay Put sales soaring. Upon returning to New York, Rock is installed in La Salle's vacant office and learns that his boss has retired to raise roses. Blinded by success, visions of glory dance in Rock's head until Jenny appears at his desk to return his engagement ring. Finally realizing that true success lies in being an "average guy," Rock proposes to Jenny again. On the night of Rita's big Stay Put television spectacular, Georgie Schmidlap strolls onstage, reclaiming Rita's heart. All ends happily as Rock and Jenny retire to the country to tend a chicken farm, La Salle's Irving rose wins first prize at the flower show and Rufus is appointed boss with Violet as his solicitous secretary. Rock then concludes that real success is the art of just being happy. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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