Released in 1957, Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? is cynical enough even to be appreciated today. And why does he hunt rocks? Is he looking for something stable?
It’s about all the irrational nontruths involved in advertising. Tony Randall is the ad guy. He wants Jane Mansfield to endorse some lipstick. She says she’ll say that she likes the lipstick if he says that they’re an item. She’s trying to make her boyfriend jealous. So you can assume that if she’s asking him to say something that’s not true, then he must be asking her to say something that’s not true too.
So this movie is saying that advertising is not true. And the main difference between movies and TV is the advertising, at regular intervals, in smallish quantities, over great periods of time. It really affects your thinking, makes you do things you don’t really want to do. The poor guy running the ad agency doesn’t want to do any of the things he’s doing. Everybody is being forced to do things against their will.
Nobody gets what they really want.
That’s life, with or without advertising. So you might as well have advertising! I hope that I didn’t spoil the happy ending for you!
Tony Randall is perfectly Tony Randall. It’s like he never aged over his entire career. His haircut just changed a little. Jane Mansfield is supposed to be playing Jane Mansfield. Her character reminds me of Jean Hagen’s in Singin’ in the Rain. Maybe there really was someone like that once in Hollywood that everybody is modeling their characters after? Tony’s buddy is played by Henry Jones, a terrific character actor. He could do anything!
Some of the jokes are a verging on rude, because they’re so blatantly titillating. There, I said it. That would have been one of their jokes. But it all kind of works out in the end. For an older film, it’s very self-conscious or meta or something. Almost like a TV movie might be today, if they made satirical TV movies today.
1957 was the first year that the Oscars were shown on TV. No wonder this movie didn’t win anything, considering how anti-TV it is. But I bet the big winner, The Bridge on the River Kwai, is really a metaphor for posting blogs!