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The working title of this film was Oh! For a Man! The film's opening credits are presented by Tony Randall, who introduces himself to the audience and plays all the musical instruments used in the Twentieth Century-Fox fanfare. Then as a series of comic commercial pitches appear on one side of the screen, Randall snaps his fingers, and the names Jayne Mansfield, Betsy Drake and Joan Blondell flash on the other side. When Randall pretends to forget the name of the film, the images of Mansfield, Drake and Blondell fade into focus and chime in unison "Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?." The device of using commercials interspersed with written credits continues throughout the opening. Frank Tashlin's credits are represented as "produced and directed by Frank Tashlin." The plot of the film then formally begins with Tony Randall, as "Rock Hunter," introducing the characters in a voice-over narration. Approximately halfway through the film, Rock interrupts the plot with an intermission to "accomodate TV fans accustomed to constant interruptions." His voice-over narration also concludes the picture as he enumerates the fate of the characters and closes with the words "The Very Living End."
The plot of the film differs significantly from that of the play. In an interview published in a modern source, Tashlin claimed that Fox bought the rights to the play to secure the services of Jayne Mansfield. A January 1956 Hollywood Reporter news item supports his statement by noting that the studio paid $150,000 for the screen rights, which included the provision that Mansfield reprise her Broadway role of "Rita Marlowe." Tashlin stated that he disliked the play, and so completely changed the story.
The original play dealt with a young fan magazine writer who sold his soul to a Faustian Hollywood agent with Satanic powers. The character of Rock did not exist in the play, but was a character in a story within the play. Tashlin then excerpted this character and made him the protagonist of the film. According to a June 1957 Hollywood Reporter news item, Tashlin decided to add the ending gag featuring Groucho Marx one month after the completion of filming. Modern sources note that Jerry Lewis was originally set to play the gag role, but producer Hal Wallis, who had Lewis under contract, vetoed his appearance in the film. An April 1957 Hollywood Reporter production chart places Rachel Stevens and Judy Busch in the cast, but their appearance in the released picture has not been confirmed. Although a Hollywood Reporter news item states that Tom Ewell, Clifton Webb and Thelma Ritter were cast in November 1956, they do not appear in the film. At the time of production, Mansfield and Mickey Hargitay were married. Tashlin had previously directed Mansfield in the 1956 film The Girl Can't Help It.