How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (film)

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How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
How to succeed movie poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byDavid Swift
Screenplay byDavid Swift
Story byAbe Burrows
Jack Weinstock
Willie Gilbert
Based onHow to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
by Shepherd Mead
Produced byDavid Swift
Walter Mirisch
Irving Temaner
StarringRobert Morse
Michele Lee
Rudy Vallee
Anthony Teague
CinematographyBurnett Guffey
Edited byAllan Jacobs
Ralph E. Winters
Music byFrank Loesser (songs)
Nelson Riddle (incidental music)
Distributed byUnited Artists
Release date
  • March 9, 1967 (1967-03-09)[1]
Running time
121 minutes[2]
CountryUnited States
Budget$3.5 million[3]
Box office$2,900,000 (rentals)[4]

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 1952 book. The film was produced by United Artists and directed by David Swift, with original staging by Bob Fosse.

The cast includes Robert Morse, Rudy Vallee and Michele Lee all reprising their Broadway roles; as well as Anthony Teague, and Maureen Arthur. The film marks the movie debut of Lee. Robert Osborne, who was an actor at this time, was given a small uncredited role as an office employee.


J. Pierrepont Finch (Robert Morse) buys the 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 mail room. Soon, thanks to the ethically questionable advice in the book, he rises to vice president of advertising by having each person above him either fired or moved or transferred within the company.

Finch begins to fall in love with Rosemary Pilkington (Michele Lee), a secretary at the company. Finch finds out that J.B. Biggley (Rudy Vallee), the president of the company, has made advances towards Hedy LaRue (Maureen Arthur), 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 (Anthony Teague), 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.


Production notes[edit]

$1 million was paid for the film rights with the other costs coming to $2.5 million. Both musical and non-musical versions were prepared.[3] 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. It most notably was used in the sequences in which Finch dashes into the building before his boss arrives in order to arrange coffee cups on his desk and pretends 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.

Several actors reprised their roles from the stage version, most notably Morse and Vallee. Dick Van Dyke was considered for the role of Finch, but he turned it down due to concerns that he was too old for the role.[citation needed]


The film received generally positive reviews. Bosley Crowther of The New York Times, for example, praised the film as successfully re-creating "just about everything that was conducive to the stage success," especially the performances of Morse and Vallee:

Seeing Mr. Morse in close-ups, as those wily expressions cross on his face and those wicked designs of Pal Joey gleam in his Horatio Alger-character eyes, is better (and I'm not chauvinistic) than seeing him on the stage. And Mr. Vallee—well, I can say nothing nicer than that he continues to improve with age.[5]

Upon its release, however, the film failed to make a profit and was a commercial disappointment. It currently holds an 89% "fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes.[6]

Although the original musical had been a great Broadway success, capturing seven Tony Awards, the film version was not nominated for any Academy Awards.

Home release[edit]

Broadcast television

How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying premiered on NBC Saturday Night at the Movies on November 25, 1972.


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.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (1967) - Release dates". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2012-01-08.
  2. ^ "HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING (U)". British Board of Film Classification. 1967-03-01. Retrieved 2012-01-08.
  3. ^ a b Swift New Idea: A Silent Film Los Angeles Times 15 Mar 1967: e12.
  4. ^ "Big Rental Films of 1967", Variety, 3 January 1968, pg 25.
  5. ^ Crowther, Bosley (March 10, 1967). "Screen: 'How to Succeed' Does Again:Musical With Morse and Vallee Opens". The New York Times. Retrieved 11 December 2021.
  6. ^ How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying at Rotten Tomatoes

External links[edit]