Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? was released in 1957. The film pokes fun at Hollywood and the ad industry, which was making millions of dollars off the growing revenue from television ads. The film also makes fun of Television and what it was doing to people in the 1950’s. Unlike many movies today, which are based on the past or the future, Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? Is based on its own time period. It has received 95% on Rotten Tomatoes, which is great, compared to many recent or new movies that are out in theaters now. As a classic comedy, I expected to not understand many of the jokes, but they were funnier than usual comedies today. The reason the film is so funny is because it takes jabs at the film industry during that time.
The film begins with Tony Randall introducing himself as Rock Hunter and his co-stars such as Betsy Drake and Jayne Mansfield and as TMC noted that as the opening credits are being shown alongside commercials of objects or appliances that are failing horribly. For example new detergent, but we see a woman being swallowed up by her washer machine as she tries to stop the “new” detergent from overflowing her machine. This is an example of a joke or jab the movie is taking, because in the 1950’s women were usually the ones who would be cleaning, stereotypically. These historical moments are taken lightly on film, leading to its contemporary culture of comedy in Hollywood.
As the movie continues, we enter the life of Rock Hunter, who works for an ad agency named La Salle Jr., Raskin, Pooley, and Crocket, and supports and lives with his sixteen year old niece, Violet (Joan Blondell), who is obsessed with Rita Marlowe a famous actress in the movie (Jayne Mansfield),nearly playing herself. Now we see that Rock Hunter isn’t much of a respected agent, but he has an idea that will change everything. Since the company is on the verge of losing “Stay Put Lipstick,” the only way he can keep his job is if he finds a way to keep the company. Rock takes his niece’s idea which is to have Ms. Marlowe become the new spokes model, he goes over to her apartment to try to convince her, and instead he gets a big kiss from her. What leads up to this is why she kissed him, which basically is that she was trying to get her current boyfriend, another actor jealous. As IMDB states it “To save his career, an ad man wants a sex symbol to endorse a lipstick. But she wants something too: he has to pretend to be her new lover.” What Rita doesn’t know is that Rock is already in a relationship with his secretary Jenny. Or as cineaste.com puts it “The Fifties were full of secretaries sleeping with their bosses, deeply square men just discovering the work “OK.” Which makes the comedy form of this movie of its own time period apparent.
Yet, Rock agrees to do anything for the company as long as he becomes Vice President. I see this as an important part of the film because it describes Hollywood, then and now. As Hollywood is about who’s with who, and where this famous person went or slept with. This sequence of the film goes there, the paparazzi starts to follow Rock Hunter and he becomes something of a sex symbol. It pokes fun The Beatles mop tops before they were The Beatles, as girls run around chasing Rock Hunter down the street.
The movie develops into a love triangle with Rock’s current girlfriend trying to become Rita Marlowe, even though she knows it’s a fake relationship out of pure business. This contemporary culture or even cult! Follows how women especially in the 1950’s wanted to be the cover girl of a magazine and it still stands true today. I see Jenny as a woman who is sure of herself until a celebrity tries to take her boyfriend away, and does everything including exhaust herself to keep Rock.
Though, I would think this movie would definitely impact Hollywood in a negative way, it doesn’t seem to do so. Hollywood stayed Hollywood after the release of Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? The real question is did Rock Hunter become spoiled? The answer is no! He realized how he couldn’t live without Jenny, the old story boy finds girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back. Rock retires with Jenny and Violet to work on a chicken farm. As As for Rita Marlowe she begins her TV special for Stay-Put Lipstick, where she is surprised by the appearance of the show’s “surprise” guest star of (and the first real love of her life), George Schmidlap. And everyone lives happily ever after, like everybody in the 1950’s.