WILL SUCCESS SPOIL ROCK HUNTER?
$7 Member $12.50 Regular
Directed by FRANK TASHLIN
Starring JAYNE MANSFIELD & TONY RANDALL
(1957) That key to the executive washroom is the ultimate at top Madison Avenue ad agency La Salle Jr., Raskin, Pooley, and Crocket, but can Tony Randall’s grey-flannel-suited Rockwell P. Hunter make it to the top before they lose their top account, “Stay-Put” lipstick? Or can he get Jayne Mansfield’s Hollywood sex bomb Rita Marlow to endorse it; and then explain her quid pro quo to his understandably disgruntled fiancée Betsy Drake (then Mrs. Cary Grant)? Brashly vulgar satire of 50s vulgarity: advertising, TV, bust and celebrity mania, success (“It’ll fit you like a shroud”), with botany buff boss John Williams (Dial M’s Chief Inspector Hubbard), smirking ad jargon master Henry Jones, warmly maternal star minder Joan Blondell (Sex Bomb of 1933, the year Jayne was born), chest wig-doffing TV Ape Man Mickey Hargitay (Jayne’s real-life hubby; their daughter is Mariska, the Law and Order: SVU star), to late-arriving lost love Georgie Schmidlap, played by... Relentlessly cartoonish treatment of George Axelrod’s Broadway hit by the animator of Porky Pig and Daffy Duck. Number 3 on then-critic Jean-Luc Godard’s Ten Best of 1957. Approx. 93 min. DCP.
A 20th CENTURY FOX RELEASE
"HILARIOUSLY INVENTIVE! Mansfield's shameless Marilyn Monroe clone has a dress-up poodle at her side, a laugh that sounds like a bomb-dropping whistle and an all-encompassing ditziness (is she in on the joke or isn’t she?) that constantly catches you off guard. She’s this unabashedly crude movie’s bleached-blond heart and soul."
– Keith Uhlich, Time Out New York
"Before Don Draper there was Rock Hunter. Granted, Tony Randall’s adman is more lovably nebbishy than suave and debonair, but that makes no difference. As the title character, he still catches the eye—and lips—of simpering, squealing Jayne Mansfield."
– Heather Baysa, The Village Voice
“With a cartoon-fuelled comic genius that’s on view from the very first shot, the director, Frank Tashlin, fills the frame with Freudian gags and the soundtrack with ribald riffs, but he also keeps the story dead center: the movie really is about the new age of mass media, with its self-consuming, self-perpetuating echoes and its jangling amplification of intimate cares."
– Richard Brody, The New Yorker
"Championed at the time of its release by Jean-Luc Godard in Cahiers du cinéma, this formally inventive yuk-fest by former Marx Bros. gag writer Tashlin remains a monumental achievement, a self-reflexive procession of riffs on material culture as vulgar (the main adjective Andrew Sarris used to characterize Tashlin’s artistry) as it is intellectual. "
– L Magazine
“TASHLIN’S BEST AND LEAST COMPROMISED FILM! A definitive picture of Madison Avenue vulgarity.”
– Peter Bogdanovich
“TASHLIN AT HIS MOST AVANT-GARDE!”
– Jonathan Rosenbaum
“Continuously vibrating with comic energy, the Cinemascope screen is a playpen of jubilant brassiness, compounded by superb performances. The director may loathe the fact that the characters sell their souls, yet he can’t help but admire the brio and creativity with which they do it, like the ravenous force with which Rock embraces his new stud persona or the slippery glibness his associate (Henry Jones) employs in navigating Madison Avenue’s polluted waters.”
– Fernando F. Croce, Slant
“TASHLIN’S MASTERPIECE! Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? It already has, says Tashlin in his brilliant satire on the age of Eisenhower... As Lubitsch was to the 30s and Sturges to the 40s, so was Tashlin to the 50s: a filmmaker gifted with an uncanny insight into the ruling delusions of his day. Loud and beautifully vulgar in DeLuxe Color and CinemaScope, Rock Hunter is hilarious literally from the first frame.”
– Dave Kehr