This satire movie skewers its first victim immediately after the 20th Century Fox logo, where Tony Randall is seen playing the drums and cello from the Fox fanfare with Cinemascope extension. After Randall briefly explains the plot of the movie, the credits continue with some satiric commercials on products that obviously don't cut the mustard.
Ever-suffering Madison Avenue TV commercial writer Rockwell Hunter is working at LaSalle, Raskin, Poole, and Crocket to save the Stayput Lipstick account. He's planning to marry Jenny, who's a secretary at the firm. He gets the inspiration of using blonde bombshell Rita Marlowe to endorse Stayput Lipstick from his teenage niece April, who's the local president of the Rita Marlowe fan club. Rita is in fact spending some time in New York to recuperate from a bad affair with jungle-man actor Bobo Branniganski, with her companion Vi in tow.
Hunter goes to Marlowe's apartment to get her endorsement. He does so, but in exchange for pretending to be her lover and making Bobo, with whom she's talking on the phone, jealous. She brazenly tells Bobo that Rockwell is the president of the firm.
His life then takes a tailspin for the better and wilder. He is mobbed by bobbysocksers in the same way the Beatles would be seven years later. However, things with Jenny becomes strained as he and Rita become an item, and it's clear that Rita genuinely falls in love with him.
There is also a half-time intermission, where Tony Randall speaks on the wonders of TV, which back then was a 21" screen with a "wonderful clean picture."
The main idea is that it's a fallacy to equate success with getting big money; if it makes you happy, do it! Therein lies the flaws of capitalism and big business. What is the big deal of gray-flanneled dreams, the ritual of getting a key to the executive washroom, and working on ideas to get the American people to buy things they don't really need? Henry Rufus, Rockwell's immediate supervisor, has the best lines. If he gets fired, he'll have no problem getting another job--he has no talent. His line "It's a miracle how you overcame your education" also implies that to work in the grey flannel jungle, a college education is the last thing needed. And best of all: "If talent had anything to do with success, then Brooks Brothers would go out of business. Movie studios would be turned into supermarkets."
Other jabs or references include Marilyn Monroe's marriage to Arthur Miller, Marilyn wanting to play Grushenka in the Brothers Karamazov, Marilyn incorporating herself, tycoon J.D. Rockefeller's passion for roses, and Elvis-"I don't have sideburns!"
All the main stars work wonders here. Jayne Mansfield, having previously starred in a Tashlin vehicle, The Girl Can't Help It, has a ball spoofing herself in the best role of her career. Joan Blondell as Vi, Rita's caustic companion, has a wonderful role when she fondly and tearfully reminisces her unrequited love affair with a milkman. One of her great lines goes: "She couldn't speak English, being from Texas." Ironically, Blondell played another character named Vi, in Grease. Henry Jones (Rufus) is more extraverted than he was as Mousey in The Girl Can't Help It. British actor John Williams as LaSalle Jr. has a few appearances but a key role. And talk about the dialogue: slick, snappy, and laugh-eliciting. There aren't many movies like this one; it does appear dated, but the main idea is timeless. Remember, being happy is the very living end!
- Actors: Tony Randall, Jayne Mansfield, Betsy Drake, Joan Blondell, John Williams
- Directors: Frank Tashlin
- Writers: Frank Tashlin, George Axelrod
- Producers: Frank Tashlin
- Format: NTSC
- Language: English, French
- Number of tapes: 1
- MPAA Rating:
- Studio: Fox Video
- VHS Release Date: July 2 1996
- Average Customer Review: 8 customer reviews
- ASIN: 6303957021
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,957 in Video (See Top 100 in Video)