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Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?(1957)

After Twentieth Century-Fox bought and then rewrote his hit play The Seven Year Itch (1955), George Axelrod retaliated with a play about a writer selling his soul to the devil for Hollywood success. Despite its comic Faustian plot, however, the hit of the play was Jayne Mansfield as Rita Marlowe, a big-screen love goddess modeled on Marilyn Monroe. Her success in the play prompted Fox to sign her, and to get her out of her stage contract, they bought the play as well. They then handed it to writer-director Frank Tashlin with instructions to throw out everything except Mansfield. The result is a satire of the worlds of television and advertising. To land movie-star Mansfield’s endorsement for a lipstick, ad man Tony Randall has to pretend to be her new boyfriend, setting the stage for a series of misunderstandings and comic zingers at the infantilization of the American public. At the center of it all is Mansfield, in a witty and intelligent send up of Hollywood success. Tashlin, who used to make Warner Bros. cartoons, directs her like a cartoon character, but with a mind. Her good spirited satire of all things show biz, including herself, made this her signature film. (d. Frank Tashlin, 93m, Digital)

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