How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (film)
|How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||David Swift|
|Produced by||David Swift
|Screenplay by||David Swift|
|Story by||Abe Burrows
|Based on||How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
by Shepherd Mead
|Music by||Frank Loesser (Songs)
Nelson Riddle (Incidental music)
|Edited by||Allan Jacobs
Ralph E. Winters
|Distributed by||United Artists|
|Box office||$2,900,000 (rentals)|
How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying is a 1967 American musical comedy film based on the 1961 stage musical of the same name, which in turn was based on Shepherd Mead‘s book. The film was produced by United Artists and directed by David Swift, with original staging by Bob Fosse.
The cast includes Robert Morse and Rudy Vallee (reprising their original Broadway roles), Michele Lee, Anthony Teague, Tucker Smith (in an uncredited role), and Maureen Arthur. The film marks the debut of Lee.
J. Pierrepont Finch (Robert Morse) buys a book, How to Succeed in Business, describing in step-by-step fashion how to rise in the business world. The ambitious young window cleaner follows its advice carefully. He joins the “World-Wide Wicket Company” and begins work in the mailroom. Soon, thanks to the ethically questionable advice in the book, he rises to Vice-President in Charge of Advertising, making sure that each person above him gets either fired or moved or transferred within the company.
Finch begins to fall in love with Rosemary Pilkington, a secretary at the company. Finch finds out that the president of the company, J. B. Biggley, has made advances towards Hedy LaRue, a beautiful but incompetent woman the company has hired. Finch uses this information to assist his climb on the corporate ladder.
Biggley’s annoying nephew, Bud Frump, also takes advantage of the situation and tries to get to the top before Finch. By story’s end, however, Finch has become chairman of the board, and might make the White House his next step to success.
- Robert Morse as J. Pierrepont “Ponty” Finch
- Michele Lee as Rosemary Pilkington
- Rudy Vallee as J.B. Biggley
- Anthony Teague as Bud Frump
- Maureen Arthur as Hedy LaRue
- John Myhers as Bert O. Bratt
- Carol Worthington as Lucille Krumholtz
- Kay Reynolds as Miss Smith / Smitty
- Ruth Kobart as Miss Jones
- Sammy Smith as Twimble / Wally Womper
- Jeff Debenning as Gatch
- Janice Carroll as Brenda
- Robert Q. Lewis as Tackaberry
- Paul Hartman as Toynbee
- Dan Tobin as Johnson
- John Holland as Matthews
- Justin Smith as Jenkins
- Murray Matheson as Benjamin Ovington
- Patrick O’Moore as Media Man No. 1
- Lory Patrick as Receptionist
- Wally Strauss as Media Man No. 2
- Hy Averback as 2nd Junior Executive
- George Fenneman as Himself/T.V. Announcer
- Carl Princi as 1st Junior Executive
- Sheila Rogers as 1st Girl
- Robert Sweeney as 3rd Junior Executive
- Ivan Volkman as The President (at end of musical)
- Anne Seymour as Gertrude Biggley (uncredited)
- Erin O’Brien-Moore as Mrs. Frump (uncredited)
One million dollars were paid for the film rights the other costs coming to $2.5 million. Both musical and non musical versions were prepared. The character of Finch was edited slightly, as it was feared that the stage characterization of the character was too edgy and that audiences would not find him likable.
Many songs from the stage version were cut from the movie, most notably all of Rosemary’s solos. She was given a version of the song “I Believe In You” in order to make up for this.
The Union Carbide Building (most recently the JPMorgan Chase Tower) that stood at 270 Park Avenue in New York City from 1960 until 2019 was used in exterior shots as the headquarters for the “World-Wide Wicket Company” in the movie, most notably in the sequences in which Finch dashes into the building before his boss arrives in order to arrange coffee cups on his desk and pretend to have fallen asleep on it after apparently working all night, as a way to convince his boss to promote him to a higher position in the company.
Many actors reprised their roles from the stage version, most notably Morse and Vallee. Dick van Dyke was briefly considered for the role of Finch, but the he turned it down due to concerns that he was too old for the role.
The film received generally positive reviews; it currently holds an 89% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying was released to DVD on April 1, 2003 by MGM Home Video in a Region 1 DVD and is available on Region 2 DVD from Simply Media.
How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying was released to Blu-ray on March 14, 2017 by Twilight Time in a Region A Blu-ray.
- “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (1967) – Release dates”. Internet Movie Database. Amazon.com. Retrieved 2012-01-08.
- “HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING (U)”. British Board of Film Classification. 1967-03-01. Retrieved 2012-01-08.
- Swift New Idea: A Silent Film Los Angeles Times 15 Mar 1967: e12.
- “Big Rental Films of 1967”, Variety, 3 January 1968, pg 25.
- How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying at Rotten Tomatoes