“I’m not attracted to her — the whole thing’s publicity!”
An adman (Tony Randall) hoping to convince a blonde bombshell (Jayne Mansfield) to star in his latest ad campaign suddenly finds himself the object of media frenzy when he becomes Mansfield’s new “Lover Boy”.
Frank Tashlin’s follow-up to The Girl Can’t Help It was this loose adaptation of a stage play by George Axelrod (shifting the storyline to a satire of television advertising but retaining its leading lady). As Peary notes in his review of TGCHI, the satirical theme of both TGCHI and WSSRH? is that “‘success’ [ironically] has nothing to do with leading a personally meaningful life” — though, fortunately, this doesn’t stop the characters in either film from trying for both. In WSSRH?, Randall’s desperation to keep his job leads him to compromise his steady relationship with Betsy Drake for the sake of an elaborate publicity stunt (which boosts his career opportunities enormously). Meanwhile, Mansfield’s ploy to use Randall to make her beefcake boyfriend (Mickey Hartigay, Mansfield’s real-life husband) jealous works extraordinarily well — but she eventually realizes that the true love in her life is one George Schmidlap (appearing in a bizarre cameo at the end). Add Drake’s forlorn attempts to bustify her slim figure (the “lasting” effects of which garner a couple of genuine chuckles), and the admission by Mansfield’s assistant (Joan Blondell, compelling as always) that she’s still pining for her long-lost milkman lover, and the entire film is essentially a tableaux of characters derailed — temporarily or otherwise — from “true” romantic happiness.
Unfortunately, while Tashlin is reasonably effective (as always) at skewering various obsessions of the ’50s (busty blondes, corporate success), the film as a whole isn’t entirely successful. Mansfield’s Rita Marlowe is far less sympathetic than her Jerri Jordan in TGCHI, coming across here as much more of a “pure” caricature — and her shrill imitation of Marilyn Monroe’s squeal quickly gets on one’s nerves. Meanwhile, the film’s denouement is a bit of a disappointment; it appears that Tashlin doesn’t quite know where to take his narrative or his characters. Nonetheless, given that this film was “selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being ‘culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant'”, all film fanatics will surely be curious to check it out at least once.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Tony Randall as Rockwell Hunter
- Joan Blondell as Violet
- Betsy Drake as Jenny
Yes, simply for its historical relevance as one of Tashlin’s best-known films. Listed as a Cult Movie in the back of Peary’s book.