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How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying

144 customer reviews

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(Apr 18, 2000)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Big business means big laughs as Robert Morse schemes and scams his way to the top in this bold andbawdy musical that celebrates the Great American Corporate Wayand lampoons it at the same time. With musical supervision by the legendary Nelson Riddle (Pal Joey), this tune-filled comic gem is a goldmine of great Frank Loesser (Guys and Dolls) songs, including "I Believe In You," "Rosemary" and "The Company Way." Written, produced and directed by David Swift (The Parent Trap) and based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning Broadway hit, this classic musical is "bristling with humor, romance and song" (The Hollywood Reporter)! The story charts the meteoric riseof an ambitious window washer (Morse) who, with the help of a simple guidebook, gets the job, gets the girl (Michele Lee), gets the raise and gets the attention of the Big Boss (Rudy Vallee) himselfall by his second day at work! Now it's only a matter of hours before he goes from zero to CEO!

This fizzy musical was a Broadway smash in 1962, and boy, is it a product of its era. Executive washrooms, gray-flannel-suit businessmen, hip-swinging secretaries--they're all preserved in the movie's brightly colored amber. J. Pierpont Finch (Robert Morse) is the window washer who climbs the corporate ladder in a few days, guided by a how-to book. The Frank Loesser songs are great fun, the Bob Fosse dances are very clever and mod, and the gaudy set design may have given Andy Warhol a few ideas. The jack-in-the-box performance of the elfin Robert Morse doesn't seem toned down from his Tony-winning stage turn; think Mickey Rooney doing Jerry Lewis. Still, Morse is a unique presence, and his mad little solo dance down a real Manhattan street is an interlude of sublime daffiness. Grand old crooner Rudy Vallee shines as the president of Worldwide Wicket, barking his beloved alma mater's fight song: "Groundhog! Groundhog!" --Robert Horton

Special Features

  • Collectible Trivia Booklet

Product Details

  • Actors: Robert Morse, Michelle Lee, Rudy Vallee, Anthony Teague
  • Directors: David Swift
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, Letterboxed, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)
  • DVD Release Date: April 18, 2000
  • Run Time: 121 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (144 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 079284484X
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #25,321 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

64 of 64 people found the following review helpful By Gary F. Taylor HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 12, 2002
Format: VHS Tape
One of the most often overlooked movie musicals of the 1960s is also one of the most successful: the screen version of the Broadway smash HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING, which delivers a sharp comic rap across the corporate knuckles in its tale of a nobody (Robert Morse) who uses a self-help book to rocket up the corporate ladder--and by the time our hero reaches the heights, romantic complications leads him to wonder what price corporate success.
Although the business world has changed quite a bit since 1967, SUCCEED is so dead-on with its attack that even modern corporate leaders will be bloodied from the fray. The company is just large enough so that no one knows what is actually going on, leadership cries out for creative solutions then promptly fires any one who shows a talent for it, and promotion doesn't hinge so much upon ability as it does upon [kissing] up, backstabbing, and looking like you know what you're doing. There are jabs at dressing for success, the idea that employees don't engage in sexual hankypanky, hidden nepotism, and the importance of belonging to the "right" clubs. And along the way our hero meets the classic business crowd: the company man, the bombshell secretary, the boss' nephew, and a host of largely incompetent yes-men VPs.
The film is very stylized, making no pretense at naturalism per se, and the cast follows suit, playing in a way that blends beautifully with the self-boosting and jingoistic tone that pervades the piece. Robert Morse gives a truly brilliant performance in the lead--and one wonders why Hollywood so seldom used him in later years; Michele Lee, as the secretary who befriends him, is equally fine, and the supporting cast is wonderful all the way around.
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39 of 39 people found the following review helpful By M. Hart on May 19, 2003
Format: DVD
The 1967 musical comedy "How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying" is based upon a 1962 Broadway musical of the same name, as well as the similarly titled novel that was written by Shepherd Mead. The story begins with J. Pierpont Finch (Robert Morse) who works as a skyscraper window washer. He finds and begins to read a self-help book entitled "How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying". Following advice from the book and while washing windows outside, he sneaks into of an office of the World Wide Wicket Corporation (WWWC). Quickly stripping out of his orange window-washing coveralls, Finch wears a smart business suit beneath and quickly endears himself to the company's president, J.B. Biggley (Rudy Vallee), one of the secretaries, Rosemary Pilkington (Michelle Lee), as well as a host of yes-men vice presidents. Impressed, J.B. sends Finch to the personnel office to be promptly hired to work in the company's mailroom. There, Finch meets J.B.'s nephew, Bud Frump (Anthony Teague), who also works for WWWC in the mailroom. Continuing to follow advice from the self-help book, Finch finagles and brownnoses his way up the corporate ladder in record speed and develops a love interest with Rosemary, but not everyone is happy with Finch's rise within the company. J.B. also hires a very attractive 'friend', Hedy LaRue (Maureen Arthur), who has little experience working in an office, but has a lot of experience with men.
The engaging, original music in the film, which was written by Frank Loesser, includes the songs:
* "How To" (sung by Robert Morse).
* "The Company Way" (sung by Robert Morse).
* "A Secretary Is Not A Toy" (sung by company employees).
* "Been A Long Day" (sung by company employees).
* "Rosemary" (sung by Robert Morse).
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By D. Goldberg on February 25, 2002
Format: DVD
This is one of the best transfers of a hit Broadway musical to movie musical. Everyone is superb! From Michelle Lee
to Robert Morse to Rudy Vallee to Ruth Kobart--all re-creating their Broadway Roles! Robert Morse's brilliant performance alone is worth the price of the dvd. Maureen Arthur's sexpot defines the word and is hilarious. Okay you can gripe that a few numbers from the Broadway Musical were left out--but overall this is a major success.
Concerns a window washer who reads a book "How to Succeed in Business" and within about a week, goes from
mail room clerk to Chairman of the Board . And he get's the girl in the end.
Fosse's Broadway choreography was recreated by an assistant for the film. Frank Loesser's Score is classic and singable.
And it shows how using the original Broadway Cast can make a film work incredibly well. (Take note those people who cast Lucille Ball in Mame and Peter O Toole in Man of La Mancha to terrible outcomes)
I don't think this film was a huge hit when it came out but it surely deserved to be. I watch it over and over. I sing the songs. It's a keeper.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Cowboy Buddha on September 1, 2004
Format: DVD
A bright and breezy and somewhat cynical 1960's musical comedy satire of American big business with lots of energy, some good (but not great) songs and a powerhouse of a central performance, How To Succeed In Business is a pleasant romp that can by enjoyed by everyone but especially appreciated by anyone who has ever had to work in an office. Its silly story of a guy who uses a "how to" book to progress from window washer to company president is like a modern urban fairy tale with music, romance, and a bit of sex thrown in. If it has a moral (which is doubtful) it is to demonstrate to the anti-Establishment mob that being part of the Establishment could be fun too.

Leading the way and holding the whole thing together is Robert Morse, reprising his Broadway role as J. Pierrepont Finch in a super star-making performance. Morse's long experience with this character is obvious as he sings, dances, grins, mugs and schemes his way through the film. He is never better than when performing his big number "I Believe In You" - sung to his reflection in the mirror of the executive washroom.

A couple of other players from the Broadway original are also in the film, most notably Sammy Smith (again playing two roles) and veteran crooner Rudy Vallee. Michelle Lee is pert and pretty as Morse's love interest, Anthony Teague (one of the Jets in West Side Story) is the slimy boss's nephew, and Maureen Arthur provides more than a dash of sex appeal as an inept secretary. But the show really belongs to Robert Morse.

The bouncy songs are by ace tunesmith Frank Loesser (this was his followup to his classic Guys And Dolls).
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