How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (1967)

119 mins | Musical comedy | 9 March 1967

Director:

David Swift

Writer:

David Swift

Producer:

David Swift

Cinematographer:

Burnett Guffey

Production Designer:

Robert Boyle

Production Company:

Mirisch Corp.
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HISTORY

On 14 Oct 1964, Var indicated that the Mirisch Corp. was considering optioning screen rights to the 1961 musical, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, based on Shepherd Mead’s 1952 best-selling book, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying; the Dastard's Guide to Fame and Fortune. Later that month, items in the 27 Oct 1964 DV and NYT confirmed that Mirisch had paid over $1 million for the rights, in addition to a promised twenty-five percent of the film’s gross after production costs were recouped. NYT noted that the long-running musical, still in its initial run at the 46th Street Theatre in New York City, had won seven Tony Awards, a Pulitzer Prize, and the New York Drama Critics Award.
       Mirisch’s film adaptation, slated for release by United Artists, was listed in a 24 Dec 1964 DV brief as one of five “roadshow” releases the company planned to produce in the next two years under a total budget of $39 million. How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying was said to be the “least costly” of the five with an anticipated budget of $5.5 million. A much lower figure of $2.5 million was later cited in the 29 Apr 1966 DV, which deemed it “a record-busting low budget” for a major film musical.
       Writer-director-producer David Swift stated in a 10 May 1966 LAT interview that he had tried to persuade Columbia Pictures, with whom he was under contract at the time, to option the screen rights to the musical, as he was an ...

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On 14 Oct 1964, Var indicated that the Mirisch Corp. was considering optioning screen rights to the 1961 musical, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, based on Shepherd Mead’s 1952 best-selling book, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying; the Dastard's Guide to Fame and Fortune. Later that month, items in the 27 Oct 1964 DV and NYT confirmed that Mirisch had paid over $1 million for the rights, in addition to a promised twenty-five percent of the film’s gross after production costs were recouped. NYT noted that the long-running musical, still in its initial run at the 46th Street Theatre in New York City, had won seven Tony Awards, a Pulitzer Prize, and the New York Drama Critics Award.
       Mirisch’s film adaptation, slated for release by United Artists, was listed in a 24 Dec 1964 DV brief as one of five “roadshow” releases the company planned to produce in the next two years under a total budget of $39 million. How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying was said to be the “least costly” of the five with an anticipated budget of $5.5 million. A much lower figure of $2.5 million was later cited in the 29 Apr 1966 DV, which deemed it “a record-busting low budget” for a major film musical.
       Writer-director-producer David Swift stated in a 10 May 1966 LAT interview that he had tried to persuade Columbia Pictures, with whom he was under contract at the time, to option the screen rights to the musical, as he was an ardent fan who had seen it multiple times on Broadway and in other cities. When Mirisch Corp. obtained the rights, Swift then approached them and was hired, on loan-out from Columbia. The 23 Dec 1965 LAT announced Swift’s involvement and stated that filming was set to begin on 1 May 1965. Swift acknowledged that, although his screen adaptation was to be closely based on the Broadway show, he would build up the romance between “J. Pierpont Finch” and “Rosemary Pilkington” which, he said, “didn’t mean much in the play.” An item in the 29 Apr 1966 DV claimed that Swift completed the screenplay in only seven days. His wife, Micheline Swift, who was enlisted to design the costumes, was credited under the single name “Micheline.”
       Swift was adamant that certain actors reprise the roles they had originated on Broadway, and reportedly held out for his desired cast, “particularly [Rudy] Vallee,” according to the 13 Jul 1966 Var. Other original cast members set for the film included lead actor Robert Morse, Ruth Kobart, and Sammy Smith; while Michele Lee, Maureen Arthur, and Jeff DeBenning had appeared in later performances on Broadway. Another Broadway cast member, Joe Cowan, was reportedly hired to reprise his role but was ousted from the production when a doctor’s report concluded that his blood pressure was too high. A news brief in the 18 Apr 1966 DV indicated that Cowan planned to sue the “Hollywood insurance company” doctor who had reported the high numbers, after obtaining lower results from another physician.
       Principal photography began one year later than planned on 2 May 1966, according to a 20 May 1966 DV production chart. Filming took place on thirty-five sets built across three soundstages at Goldwyn Studios in Hollywood, CA, the 10 May 1966 LAT reported. After Hollywood shooting was completed six days early, an item in the 8 Jul 1966 DV reported that the cast and crew had moved to New York City to shoot “half a dozen additional scenes.” Filming was scheduled to end on 11 Jul 1966.
       Upon conclusion of principal photography, an article in the 13 Jul 1966 Var reported that a “non-musical” print was being readied for overseas audiences, since musical sequences were “difficult if not impossible to dub.” Although it was unclear whether or not the non-musical version would be deemed necessary, additional sequences had been shot as potential “dialog bridges,” and it was anticipated that thirty minutes of musical footage might be removed.
       The film opened as the Easter attraction at New York City’s Radio City Music Hall on 9 Mar 1967. Critical reception in the U.S. was generally favorable, and a box-office chart in the 3 Jan 1968 Var listed How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying as the thirty-third highest grossing picture of 1967, with cumulative film rentals of $2.9 million.
       The following actors were listed as cast members in DV and LAT announcements published between Mar and Jun 1966: Steve Roberts, Arthur Gould-Porter, Terry Lynn Wilson, Judy March, Victoria Valentina, Jan Barthel, Sandra Lynn, Sheila English, Melody McCord, Windsor Elliott, Debbie Morris, Pearl Shear, Edward Pfeiffer, Roy Clark, Wally Green, Cary Leverette, David Adhar, Jerry Rush, Ian Bruce, Wayne Davis, Charles Lunard, Currie Deterson, Bob Cole, Joe Paz , Frank Radcliffe, George LeFave, Patrick O’Moore, and Spec O’Donnell.
       Dale Moreda's choreography was based upon that of Bob Fosse, who choreographed the original stage presentation.

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GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
27 Oct 1964
p. 1, 11
Daily Variety
24 Dec 1964
p. 1, 4
Daily Variety
9 Mar 1966
p. 1, 9
Daily Variety
28 Mar 1966
p. 4
Daily Variety
4 Apr 1966
p. 3
Daily Variety
5 Apr 1966
p. 4
Daily Variety
18 Apr 1966
p. 1, 11
Daily Variety
29 Apr 1966
p. 2
Daily Variety
10 May 1966
p. 4
Daily Variety
20 May 1966
p. 15
Daily Variety
23 May 1966
p. 4
Daily Variety
27 May 1966
p. 4
Daily Variety
13 Jun 1966
p. 4
Daily Variety
29 Jun 1966
p. 4
Daily Variety
8 Jul 1966
p. 3
Los Angeles Times
16 Jun 1965
Section C, p. 15
Los Angeles Times
23 Dec 1965
Section C, p. 10
Los Angeles Times
16 Mar 1966
Section D, p. 16
Los Angeles Times
10 May 1966
Section C, p. 10
Los Angeles Times
24 Feb 1967
Section D, p. 7
Los Angeles Times
12 Mar 1967
Section C, p. 1, 4
Los Angeles Times
23 Mar 1967
Section A, p. 10
New York Times
27 Oct 1964
p. 42
New York Times
7 Feb 1967
p. 34
New York Times
10 Mar 1967
p. 30
Variety
14 Oct 1964
p. 4
Variety
13 Jul 1966
p. 1, 55
Variety
13 Jul 1966
p. 5
Variety
14 Sep 1966
p. 75
Variety
15 Feb 1967
p. 6
Variety
3 Jan 1968
p. 25
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Visual gags
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Col dsgn
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
Cost
MUSIC
Mus supv & cond
VISUAL EFFECTS
DANCE
Choreog
MAKEUP
Robert Schiffer
Makeup
Hairstyles
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod supv
Unit mgr
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the musical How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying , music by Frank Loesser, book by Abe Burrows, Jack Weinstock and Willie Gilbert (New York, 14 Oct 1961), which was based on the book How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying; the Dastard's Guide to Fame and Fortune by Shepherd Mead (New York, 1952).
LITERARY SOURCE AUTHORS
+
LITERARY SOURCE AUTHORS
+
SONGS
"How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying," "The Company Way," "A Secretary Is Not a Toy," "Been a Long Day," "I Believe in You," "Grand Old Ivy," "Rosemary," "Gotta Stop That Man," "Brotherhood of Man" and "How to," words and music by Frank Loesser.
SONGWRITER/COMPOSER
DETAILS
Release Date:
9 March 1967
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 9 Mar 1967; Los Angeles opening: 22 Mar 1967 at Grauman's Chinese Theatre
Production Date:
2 May--11 Jul 1966
Copyright Info
Claimant
Date
Copyright Number
Mirisch Corp.
3 March 1967
LP34164
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
De Luxe
Widescreen/ratio
Panavision
Duration(in mins):
119
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

While on his way to work one morning, an ambitious and brash young window cleaner named J. Pierpont Finch buys a book entitled How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. Impressed by what he reads, he leaves his window washing post and enters the offices of the World Wide Wicket Company. He charms a pretty secretary, Rosemary Pilkington, tricks the personnel manager into believing he is a close friend of J. B. Biggley, the pompous head of Wicket, and lands himself a job in the mailroom. Following each suggestion in the book, Finch quickly connives his way through a series of advancements and promotions until he becomes a junior executive. Finch has also won the hatred of Biggley's nephew, Bud Frump, who plots to destroy him. By supplementing the book's advice with his own methods, Finch's meteoric rise continues until he is finally made the head of advertising. Aware that his uncle detests television giveaway programs, Frump tricks Finch into suggesting a World Wide treasure hunt for shares in the Wicket Company. To Frump's consternation, however, Biggley endorses the idea when Finch nominates Hedy LaRue, Biggley's current lover, as the Treasure Girl. The idea backfires when Hedy publicly announces that the free shares are hidden in Wicket offices throughout the world; and the public quickly reduces them to shambles as they frantically search for the prizes. Finch finally admits that he is a lowly window washer who wanted to become a success. Upon hearing the confession, the chairman of the board and former window washer Wally Womper announces that he ...

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While on his way to work one morning, an ambitious and brash young window cleaner named J. Pierpont Finch buys a book entitled How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. Impressed by what he reads, he leaves his window washing post and enters the offices of the World Wide Wicket Company. He charms a pretty secretary, Rosemary Pilkington, tricks the personnel manager into believing he is a close friend of J. B. Biggley, the pompous head of Wicket, and lands himself a job in the mailroom. Following each suggestion in the book, Finch quickly connives his way through a series of advancements and promotions until he becomes a junior executive. Finch has also won the hatred of Biggley's nephew, Bud Frump, who plots to destroy him. By supplementing the book's advice with his own methods, Finch's meteoric rise continues until he is finally made the head of advertising. Aware that his uncle detests television giveaway programs, Frump tricks Finch into suggesting a World Wide treasure hunt for shares in the Wicket Company. To Frump's consternation, however, Biggley endorses the idea when Finch nominates Hedy LaRue, Biggley's current lover, as the Treasure Girl. The idea backfires when Hedy publicly announces that the free shares are hidden in Wicket offices throughout the world; and the public quickly reduces them to shambles as they frantically search for the prizes. Finch finally admits that he is a lowly window washer who wanted to become a success. Upon hearing the confession, the chairman of the board and former window washer Wally Womper announces that he is going to retire and that Finch will be his successor. Now at the top at last, Finch admits his love for Rosemary and promises to forget about ambition. Delighted, Rosemary vows that she would love him whether he was a mailboy or President of the United States. Finch starts thinking, and a short time later he is washing the windows of the White House.

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

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