Rockwell P. Hunter (Tony Randall) is as low as one can be on the mad-men totem pole, an all-around average schnook who longs for the respect of his snooty boss and droolingly covets a key to the executive washroom. But this ad-agency lackey has a bigger problem, since his company is about to lose its top account (with Stay-Put lipstick) and his job is on the line. It’s only thanks to his flighty fan-girl niece that inspiration strikes: He just needs to get buxom starlet Rita Marlowe (Jayne Mansfield)—in town for a bit of incognito publicity—to endorse Stay-Put, and Stay-Put will, well, stay put.
By contrast, Frank Tashlin’s colorful CinemaScope satire never holds fast to anything. The plot, adapted by the director from a hit George Axelrod play, is but a pretext for an endless series of see-what-sticks gags: Targets include everything from the pervasive TV culture that was then dragging audiences away from theaters (“Your big 21-inch screens,” Randall sneers in a hilarious fourth-wall-breaking sequence) to the near-cannibalistic celebrity worship that has only increased over time. Mansfield embodies the greatest joke of all—her 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.
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