AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?
Alternate Title: Oh! For a Man!
Director: Frank Tashlin (Dir)
Release Date:   Aug 1957
Production Date:   19 Mar--late Apr 1957; addl scenes mid-Jun 1957
Duration (in mins):   90 or 94
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Cast:   Tony Randall (Rockwell P. "Rock" Hunter)  
    Jayne Mansfield (Rita Marlowe)  
    Betsy Drake (Jenny Wells)  
    Joan Blondell (Violet)  
    John Williams (Irving La Salle, Jr.)  
    Henry Jones (Henry Rufus)  
    Lili Gentle (April Hunter)  
    Mickey Hargitay (Bobo Branejansky)  
    Georgia Carr (Calypso singer)  
    Groucho Marx (Georgie Schmidlap)  
    Dick Whittinghill (TV interviewer)  
    Ann McCrea (Gladys)  
    Alberto Morin (Frenchman)  
    Louis Mercier (Frenchman)  
    Lida Piazza (Jr.'s secretary)  
    Larry Kerr (Mr. Ezzarus)  
    Bob Adler (Mailman)  
    Phil Chambers (Mailman)  
    Barbara Eden (Miss Carstairs)  
    Edith Leslie (Masseuse)  
    Jay Sayer (Reporter)  
    Shep Houghton (Policeman)  
    Tom Palmer (Salesman)  
    George Baxter (TV commentator)  
    Edith Russell (Scrubwoman)  
    Minta Durfee (Scrubwoman)  
    Benny Rubin (Theater manager)  
    Elena Young (Margie)  
    Sherrill Terry (Annie)  
    Mack Williams (Hotel doorman)  
    James Maloney (Doctor)  
    Majel Hudek (Shampoo demonstrator)  
    Don Corey (Voice of Ed Sullivan)  
    Richard Deems (Razor demonstrator)  
    Mary Foran (Refrigerator saleslady)  
    Carmen Nisbit (Breakfast food demonstrator)  
    Madge Cleveland (Soap demonstrator)  
    Bette Lou Murray (Washing machine demonstrator)  
    Fred Catania (Used car salesman)  
    Mack Chandler (Beer salesman)  
    Jesse Kirkpatrick (Peanut butter salesman)  
    Patricia Powell (Receptionist)  

Summary: 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. 

Production Company: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.  
Distribution Company: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.  
Director: Frank Tashlin (Dir)
  Joseph E. Rickards (Asst dir)
Producer: Frank Tashlin (Prod)
Writer: Frank Tashlin (Screen story and scr)
Photography: Joe MacDonald (Dir of photog)
Art Direction: Lyle R. Wheeler (Art dir)
  Leland Fuller (Art dir)
Film Editor: Hugh S. Fowler (Film ed)
Set Decoration: Walter M. Scott (Set dec)
  Bertram Granger (Set dec)
Costumes: Charles LeMaire (Exec ward des)
Music: Cyril J. Mockridge (Mus)
  Lionel Newman (Cond)
  Edward B. Powell (Orch)
  Ken Darby (Vocal supv)
Sound: E. Clayton Ward (Sd)
  Frank Moran (Sd)
  Ralph Hickey (Sd ed)
  Ray Bomba (Sd ed)
  Jim Leppert (Sd ed)
Special Effects: L. B. Abbott (Spec photog eff)
Make Up: Ben Nye (Makeup)
  Helen Turpin (Hair styles)
Color Personnel: Leonard Doss (Col consultant)
Country: United States
Language: English

Songs: "You've Got It Made," words and music by Bobby Troup.
Composer: Bobby Troup
Source Text: Based on the play Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? by George Axelrod, as produced by Jule Styne (New York, 13 Oct 1955).
Authors: George Axelrod
  Jule Styne

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp. 26/7/1957 dd/mm/yyyy LP9312

PCA NO: 18548
Physical Properties: Sd: Westrex Recording System
  col: De Luxe
  Widescreen/ratio: CinemaScope
  Lenses/Prints: lenses by Bausch & Lomb

Genre: Romantic comedy
Subjects (Major): Advertising agencies
  Employer-employee relations
  Motion picture actors and actresses
  New York City--Madison Avenue
  Publicity stunts
  Romantic rivalry
Subjects (Minor): Chickens
  Press conferences
  Television commercials

Note: 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). 

Bibliographic Sources:   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.

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
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