The Secret of My Success (1987)

PG-13 | 110 mins | Comedy, Romance | 10 April 1987

Director:

Herbert Ross

Producer:

Herbert Ross

Cinematographer:

Carlo Di Palma

Editor:

Paul Hirsch

Production Designers:

Edward Pisoni, Peter Larkin

Production Company:

Rastar
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HISTORY

       Principal photography began on 4 Jun 1986 in New York City, according to 13 Jun 1986 DV production charts. Office sequences were filmed at the International Paper Company headquarters located on the 43rd and 44th floors of a building just south of Rockefeller Center on Fifth Avenue, according to promotional information in AMPAS library files. A 300-acre estate on the Hudson River near Mount Kisco, NY, one hour from midtown Manhattan, was used for the Prescott estate sequences.
       Actor Michael J. Fox filmed two movies back to back during his four-month break from his starring role in the ongoing television comedy series Family Ties. (National Broadcasting Company, 22 Sept 1982 -- 14 May 1989). He first filmed director Paul Schrader’s Light of Day (1987, see entry), then began work on The Secret of My Success. The night principal photography was completed on 1 Aug 1986, he flew to Los Angeles, CA, and began work a day later on the fifth season of Family Ties.
       The 17 Feb 1987 HR indicated additional footage was being shot at the International Paper Company offices.
       During post-production, director Herbert Ross halted the editing process so he could make the ballet backstage drama Dancers (1987, see entry) in Italy. The 7 Oct 1987 WSJ reported that Ross’s wife, Nora Kaye, a former ballet dancer with the American Ballet Theatre, had spearheaded efforts to get Dancers made, but was in declining health due to cancer. So, Ross stopped work on The Secret of My Success to direct ... More Less

       Principal photography began on 4 Jun 1986 in New York City, according to 13 Jun 1986 DV production charts. Office sequences were filmed at the International Paper Company headquarters located on the 43rd and 44th floors of a building just south of Rockefeller Center on Fifth Avenue, according to promotional information in AMPAS library files. A 300-acre estate on the Hudson River near Mount Kisco, NY, one hour from midtown Manhattan, was used for the Prescott estate sequences.
       Actor Michael J. Fox filmed two movies back to back during his four-month break from his starring role in the ongoing television comedy series Family Ties. (National Broadcasting Company, 22 Sept 1982 -- 14 May 1989). He first filmed director Paul Schrader’s Light of Day (1987, see entry), then began work on The Secret of My Success. The night principal photography was completed on 1 Aug 1986, he flew to Los Angeles, CA, and began work a day later on the fifth season of Family Ties.
       The 17 Feb 1987 HR indicated additional footage was being shot at the International Paper Company offices.
       During post-production, director Herbert Ross halted the editing process so he could make the ballet backstage drama Dancers (1987, see entry) in Italy. The 7 Oct 1987 WSJ reported that Ross’s wife, Nora Kaye, a former ballet dancer with the American Ballet Theatre, had spearheaded efforts to get Dancers made, but was in declining health due to cancer. So, Ross stopped work on The Secret of My Success to direct Dancers while his wife could still participate in its production.
       The film opened on 10 Apr 1987 and earned $18.9 million in its first ten days of release according to a 22 Apr 1987 NYT report.
       The 13 Mar 1989 DV indicated the Rastar Production had filed a lawsuit against distributor Universal Studios concerning the dispersal of profits after the breakeven point. No information about the outcome of the lawsuit has been found.
      End credits indicate the movie was filmed on location in New York City and at the Kaufman Astoria Studios in Astoria, Long Island, New York.
More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
13 Jun 1986.
---
Daily Variety
8 Apr 1987
p. 3, 18.
Daily Variety
13 Mar 1989.
---
Hollywood Reporter
17 Feb 1987.
---
Hollywood Reporter
8 Apr 1987
p. 3, 32.
Los Angeles Times
10 Apr 1987
p. 1.
New York Times
10 Apr 1987
p. 14.
New York Times
22 Apr 1987.
---
Variety
8 Apr 1987
p. 16.
WSJ
7 Oct 1987.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
A Rastar Production
A Herbert Ross Film
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
DGA trainee
PRODUCERS
Line prod
Assoc prod
Exec prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Cam trainee
Gaffer
Best boy
Key grip
Dolly grip
Still photog
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Prod des
Prod asst to art dept
FILM EDITORS
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
SET DECORATORS
Prop master
Props
Set dec
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Scenic chargeman
COSTUMES
Cost des
Men`s ward
Women's ward
MUSIC
Mus by
Supv mus ed
Mus supv
Mus supv
Asst mus ed
Exec mus prod
SOUND
Supv sd ed
Supv sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Supv ADR ed
ADR ed
Sd mixer
Boom op
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec
VISUAL EFFECTS
Opt eff
Graphics
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting, New York
Casting, Los Angeles
Scr supv
Extras casting
Loc mgr
Loc asst
Prod auditor
Asst auditor
Payroll auditor
Prod office coord
Asst prod office coord
Unit pub
Asst to Herbert Ross
Asst to Nora Kaye
Asst to Mary Colquhoun
Prod asst to loc dept
Prod asst to loc dept
Prod asst to loc dept
Prod asst to Herbert Ross
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
SOURCES
MUSIC
Theme from “Jaws,” music composed and conducted by John Williams, courtesy of MCA Records.
SONGS
“Riskin’ A Romance,” written by Siobhan Fahey, Ollie Marland and Paul Waller
performed by Bananarama, produced by Daryl Hall and Tom T-Bone Wolk, Bananarama appears courtesy of London Records, Ltd.
“Sometimes The Good Guys Finish First,” written by Pat Benatar, Khris McDaniels and Holly Knight, performed by Pat Benatar, produced by Neil Geraldo, Pat Benatar appears courtesy of Chrysalis Records
+
SONGS
“Riskin’ A Romance,” written by Siobhan Fahey, Ollie Marland and Paul Waller
performed by Bananarama, produced by Daryl Hall and Tom T-Bone Wolk, Bananarama appears courtesy of London Records, Ltd.
“Sometimes The Good Guys Finish First,” written by Pat Benatar, Khris McDaniels and Holly Knight, performed by Pat Benatar, produced by Neil Geraldo, Pat Benatar appears courtesy of Chrysalis Records
“The Price Of Love,” written by David Foster and Jack Blades, performed by Roger Daltrey, produced by David Foster, Roger Daltrey appears courtesy of Virgin Records and Atlantic Records
“El Cayuco,” written by Tito Puente, performed by El Chicano, courtesy of MCA Records
“El Munequito,” written by Francisco Cruz, performed by El Haitianito, courtesy of Kubaney Records
“Gazebo,” written, performed and produced by David Foster, David Foster appears courtesy of Atlantic Records
“Walking On Sunshine,” written by Kimberley Rew, performed by Katrina and the Waves, courtesy of Capitol Records
“Geek Boogie,” written by Ira Newborn, performed by Ira Newborn and the Geeks, courtesy of MCA Records
“The Secret Of My Success,” written by David Foster, Jack Blades, Tom Keane and Michael Landau, performed by Night Ranger, produced by David Foster, Night Ranger appears courtesy of Camel/MCA Records
“Feliz Cumbe,” written by Francisco Cruz, performed by Papo Cadena su Sax y Orquesta, courtesy of Kubaney Records
“Something I Gotta Do,” written by David Foster, Danny Peck and Tim DuBois, performed by Restless Heart, produced by David Foster, co-produced by Tim DuBois and Scott Hendricks, Restless Heart appears courtesy of RCA Records
“Heaven And The Heartaches,” written by David Cumming and Jeff Nead, performed by Taxxi, courtesy of MCA Records
“Come Get My Love,” written by Robert Marcial, performed by TKA, courtesy of Tommy Boy Records
“Oh Yeah,” written by Boris Blank and Dieter Meier, performed by Yello, courtesy of Polygram Special Projects, a division of Polygram Records, Inc.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
10 April 1987
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 10 April 1987
Production Date:
4 June 1986--1 August 1986 in New York
Copyright Claimant:
Universal City Studios, Inc.
Copyright Date:
29 July 1987
Copyright Number:
PA336835
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Lenses
Panaflex® Camera and Lenses by Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
110
MPAA Rating:
PG-13
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
28565
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Twenty-four-year-old Brantley Foster, a recent graduate of Kansas State University, moves from his family farm in Kansas to New York City to take a job at the KRS Corporation. However, when he reports to work, he finds ninety percent of the staff has just been laid off . . . including him. In the weeks that follow, he goes on many job interviews, but is told he does not have enough work experience. When he pads his resume with fake experience, he is told he is overqualified. Brantley does not tell his parents of his employment woes, promising himself that when he returns to Kansas, it will be on his own private jet. His mother gives him a distant relative’s contact information. That relative turns out to be Howard Prescott, head of the Pemrose Corporation, a multinational conglomerate with twenty-seven divisions, making products ranging from dog food to guided missile systems. Although he is a hothead who routinely screams at his employees, Howard takes sympathy on the relative he has never heard of, and gives Brantley a job in the mailroom. Fellow mailroom employee, Fred Melrose, shows him how to do the job, but warns that people do not get promoted out of the mailroom. He also tells Brantley never to talk to the executive, the “suits” as he refers to them, unless they speak to him first. Brantley is mesmerized upon seeing Pemrose’s only female executive, Christy Wills, a financial wizard who recently graduated from Harvard University, and lusts after her from afar. Over the next several weeks, Brantley reads many of the memos he delivers and quickly realizes there is much job duplication among the various ... +


Twenty-four-year-old Brantley Foster, a recent graduate of Kansas State University, moves from his family farm in Kansas to New York City to take a job at the KRS Corporation. However, when he reports to work, he finds ninety percent of the staff has just been laid off . . . including him. In the weeks that follow, he goes on many job interviews, but is told he does not have enough work experience. When he pads his resume with fake experience, he is told he is overqualified. Brantley does not tell his parents of his employment woes, promising himself that when he returns to Kansas, it will be on his own private jet. His mother gives him a distant relative’s contact information. That relative turns out to be Howard Prescott, head of the Pemrose Corporation, a multinational conglomerate with twenty-seven divisions, making products ranging from dog food to guided missile systems. Although he is a hothead who routinely screams at his employees, Howard takes sympathy on the relative he has never heard of, and gives Brantley a job in the mailroom. Fellow mailroom employee, Fred Melrose, shows him how to do the job, but warns that people do not get promoted out of the mailroom. He also tells Brantley never to talk to the executive, the “suits” as he refers to them, unless they speak to him first. Brantley is mesmerized upon seeing Pemrose’s only female executive, Christy Wills, a financial wizard who recently graduated from Harvard University, and lusts after her from afar. Over the next several weeks, Brantley reads many of the memos he delivers and quickly realizes there is much job duplication among the various departments and that Howard Prescott and the other executives are making decisions not financially beneficial to the company. He also goes to the company library to research Pemrose stockholders. One afternoon, Brantley’s boss, Barney Rattigan, instructs him to check out a company limousine and drive Vera, an executive’s wife, to Litchfield, Connecticut. During the drive, he overhears Vera’s conversation about her husband having an affair with someone at the office. To cheer her up, Brantley tells Vera he hopes he can find a woman as beautiful as she when he is older. Vera insists he stay for a swim when they get to her mansion, but once in the swimming pool, she pulls off his swimsuit and takes off her swim top as well. The two have sex in the pool house, but soon after, Vera’s husband arrives. Brantley is flabbergasted to see her husband is Howard Prescott. He sneaks out of the pool house before he can be discovered. The following Monday, Brantley admires a corner office recently vacated by an executive fired by Howard. He sits at the desk wishing it were his office. When the telephone rings, Brantley answers and learns there is a problem with distribution. Feeling gutsy, he instructs the caller to tell the trucking company to cooperate or they will hire another company. The next day, Brantley wears a suit to work and returns to the empty office. He tells people he is a new hire named “Carlton Whitfield” and wants to know where his secretary is. They say they need a requisition to assign him a secretary, so Brantley rushes to the mailroom, changes clothes and delivers the requisition. He also orders personalized stationary and a nameplate for the door. Soon after, his new secretary, Jean, reports to his office. “Carlton” also introduces himself to Christy Wills, who is unimpressed by him. In the days that follow, he divides his time between working in the mailroom as Brantley and in the executive offices as “Carlton,” carefully changing clothes when going between the two jobs. During a meeting, executives are informed that corporate raider Donald Davenport is attempting a hostile takeover of Pemrose and are instructed to find ways to cut costs. While most favor shutting down divisions, ”Carlton” advocates expanding the company to make it stronger, citing confidential information he read in memos while working in mailroom. That night, Vera turns up at Brantley’s tiny apartment, claiming she heard his “telepathic calls” to her, and the two have sex. Meanwhile, Howard Prescott is having drinks with Christy Wills, who is his mistress. When Christy mentions “Carlton,” Howard does not recall hiring him and fears that Donald Davenport planted him at the company. He orders Christy to spy on “Carlton” and go through his files. A few days later when Howard drops in on an executive meeting, “Carlton” fakes a nosebleed to get away before he is recognized as Brantley. After working very late, Christy and “Carlton” go to dinner. They initially argue over company expansion versus retraction, but soon the conversation turns more personal. Afterward, they wander around town chatting, each smitten with the other. They end up spending the entire weekend together. On Monday, when a jealous Howard wants to know where Christy was all weekend, she breaks up with him. Howard tells her that he and Vera have agreed to divorce. Later, as “Carlton” chats in the hall, Brantley’s mailroom boss, Barney, spots him. “Carlton” runs, but Barney gives chase. “Carlton” eludes him and returns to his office, only to find Howard waiting for him, so he pretends to be Brantley delivering the mail. Later Brantley reports to Howard’s office and finds Vera there eager to have sex with him. Later, Howard orders all the executives to his home in Litchfield for a weekend retreat. Howard suggests that Brantley also come to keep his wife occupied while he is busy with his mistress. In Litchfield, Vera, whose father founded Pemrose, promises to help get Brantley promoted, just as she did for Howard many years ago. She introduces Brantley to many of the executives and is confused when they call him “Carlton” or “Whitfield.” He lies to Vera, telling her his full name is “Brantley Whitfield Carlton Foster.” That night, Howard and Vera pretend to sleep, then sneak out of their bedroom to go to Christy and Brantley’s rooms, respectively. Howard ends up in Christy’s bed only to discover Brantley there, also waiting for Christy. Brantley’s identity as “Carlton” is exposed and Howard fires both him and Christy. At the board of director’s meeting, Donald Davenport promises Howard can stay on after Pemrose and Davenport Enterprises are merged, but everyone else will be fired as they dismantle Pemrose. As Howard makes a motion to approve the merger, Brantley bursts into the meeting announcing that the combination of Pemrose’s products and Davenport’s distribution could make a very strong company. Davenport, however, is only interested in selling off the Pemrose assets. Brantley has purchased five percent of Davenport stock and announces he is staging a hostile takeover of Davenport. Vera arrives, announcing that as daughter of the company founder, she controls more than fifty percent of the voting stock. She fires Howard and puts Brantley in charge. Afterward, Vera aims her romantic sights on Brantley’s mailroom buddy, Fred Melrose, and begins dating him. Soon after, Brantley gives Christy an engagement ring. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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