How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (1967)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

Robert Morse recreated his Tony-winning stage role in this 1967 film version of Frank Loesser's Pulitzer Prize-winning Broadway musical. A humble window washer at the New York offices of World Wide Wickets, J. Pierpont Finch applies the lessons he's learned from a book called How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying to wangle his way to the top of the executive heap. Though advised by the mailroom supervisor (Sammy Smith) to keep a low profile and play things "The Company Way," Finch follows his own skewed set of rules, endearing himself to bombastic company president J. B. Biggely (Rudy Vallee) by posing as a graduate of Grand Old Ivy, Biggely's alma mater. As he climbs to the top, Finch manages to dispose of an over-amorous rival by arranging a tryst between that rival and curvaceous secretary Hedy LaRue (Maureen Arthur)--who happens to be Biggely's live-in girlfriend. Finch also gets rid of the troublesome Mr. Ovington (Murray Matheson) by exposing the latter as an alumnus of Old Ivy's hated rival university. Graduating to vice-president, Finch feels secure enough to sing the show's one genuine love song "I Believe In You"--to himself! Actually, he's really in love with true-blue secretary Rosemary (Michele Lee), but won't admit to this until he suffers a career setback. Most of Loesser's songs survived the transition from stage to screen, with the exception of "Paris Original," which is heard merely as background music.
Classics , Comedy , Drama , Musical & Performing Arts
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
United Artists

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Robert Morse
as J. Pierpont Finch
Michele Lee
as Rosemary Pilkington
Rudy Vallee
as J.B. Biggley
Maureen Arthur
as Hedy LaRue
Anthony Teague
as Bud Frump
Murray Matheson
as Benjamin Ovington
Sammy Smith
as Mr. Twimble/Wally Womper
John Myhers
as Bratt
Ruth Kobart
as Miss Jones
George Fenneman
as TV Announcer
Anne Seymour
as Mrs. Biggley
Erin O'Brien-Moore
as Mrs. Frump
Joey Faye
as Taxi Cab Driver
Pat O'Moore
as Media Man No. I
Helen Verbit
as Finch's Landlady
Virginia Sale
as Cleaning Woman
Al Nessor
as Newspaper Seller
Carol Worthington
as Miss Krumholtz
Lory Patrick
as Receptionist
Patrick O'Moore
as Media Man
Wally Strauss
as Media Man
Ivan Volkman
as President of the U.S.
David Swift
as Elevator Operator
Dan Tobin
as Johnson
Robert Q. Lewis
as Tackaberry
John Holland
as Matthews
Paul Hartman
as Toynbee
Justin Smith
as Jenkins
Carl Princi
as 1st Junior Executive
Hy Averback
as 2nd Executive
Bob Sweeney
as 3rd Executive
Paul Bradley
as TV Board Member
Tucker Smith
as Junior Executive
Sheila Rogers
as 1st Girl
Robert Sweeney
as 3rd Junior Executive
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying

All Critics (10)

The breezy manner with which the musical sends up the era's corporate chicanery and heedless sexism... couldn't be further from Mad Men's deadpan cool.

Full Review… | August 14, 2016
Movie Talk

A great Broadway show becomes a great movie, thanks largely to Morse

September 27, 2003
Kalamazoo Gazette

Truncated from the show, Morse truly bizarre

September 8, 2002

...perfect synthesis of singing, dancing, comedy, and satire, a show that brought scintillating dialogue, sharp-edged lyrics, and catchy tunes into sharp focus.

December 31, 1999
Movie Metropolis

Quote not available.

September 20, 2006

Quote not available.

August 4, 2005
Movie Mom at Yahoo! Movies

Audience Reviews for How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying


You get the sense the some of the rougher satire in the original stage musical has been smoothed out for more mainstream audiences but what's there is still effective. Although the best reason to see the film is for Morse, whose wonderfully strange performance is the antithesis of what you'd expect from a musical comedy. He makes such consistent offbeat choices that you might wonder why any of the producers left him in the picture if you weren't so glad they did.

Alec Barniskis
Alec Barniskis

Super Reviewer


Such a hilarious musical comedy, it's charming and enjoyable, and has a great cast of not so well known actors. The story is just what it says, a young guy gets a book with the same title as the movie, and follows the steps to quickly climb the corporate ladder with so much ease, that it's ridiculous. This makes fun of the corporate workplace and job hunting. I loved it, and I highly recommend it.

Aj V
Aj V

Super Reviewer

Bright, splashy film musical about an ambitious young window washer who rises through the ranks of a large corporation following the advice of a self-help book. Textbook example of how to do everything right in translating a musical from stage to film. Features a wonderful Frank Loesser score including the songs, "I Believe In You" and "The Brotherhood of Man". Robert Morse and Rudy Vallee reprise their original Broadway roles. Film debut of Michele Lee.

Mark Hobin
Mark Hobin

Super Reviewer

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