It’s easy to love Frank Tashlin, because there were so few comedy directors working in Hollywood in the 1950s and 1960s who were making movies as visually inventive and nakedly satirical as his. Still, Tashlin was operating within a studio system, which limited just how freewheeling he could be. Even a lot of Tashlin’s best films—like his collaborations with Jerry Lewis—only sprinkle moments of genius between long stretches of normalcy. One of the great exceptions is 1957’s Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?, a send-up of contemporary showbiz that Tashlin co-wrote (with George Axelrod), produced, and directed. Tony Randall stars as a low-level ad-man who becomes a celebrity when he pretends to date a popular sex symbol (played by Jayne Mansfield). Tashlin uses this plot to mock television, fame, sexual exploitation, and desperate social-climbing, in a film that’s as fizzy, sour, and intoxicating as a gin and tonic. It airs on Starz’s Retroplex channel tonight at 10 p.m. Eastern.
January 13, 2015 Cable Pick Of The Day