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Twenty-seven year old New York window washer, J. Pierpont Finch, believes he can be a success in the corporate world after he impulsively picks up the book "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying". The book promises its reader that he can climb the corporate ladder simply and quickly. The Worldwide Wicket Corporation, the business in the office building whose windows he washes is, according to the book, the perfect type of business. There he meets secretary Rosemary Pilkington, who sees in Ponty (as she calls him) an unassuming man who she believes the corporate world will eat alive. But Ponty, memorizing what the book tells him, does quickly climb the corporate ladder but not by doing any real work. Ponty has a few obstacles along the way such as: Bud Frump who sees Ponty as a rival and is the nephew by marriage of the company president J.B. Biggley; Hedy La Rue, a curvaceous but simple woman who has a secret or not-so-secret tie to someone important in the company; Mr. ... Written by
In this film version of the 1960's Broadway musical that won 7 Tony Awards, Robert Morse (Tony winner) plays J. Pierpont Finch, a New York City window washer, who takes the advice of a how-to-succeed book, and quickly ascends the corporate ladder.
This is one of the best musicals ever made. The songs are forceful and original. The dialogue is sharp-witted. The plot is a hoot. The pace is brisk. And the casting is perfect. In addition to a superbly funny Morse, the film features talented Michele Lee, and the great Rudy Vallee. Of special mention is Maureen Arthur. She is hilarious as the curvaceous (39-22-38), but vacuous secretary, Miss Hedy LaRue. In one scene, Finch asks her if she can type fast; her self-confident response: "like a jack rabbit, 12 words a minute".
Underneath the humor, "How To Succeed In Business ..." is, of course, a scathing indictment of corporate culture. The film also takes a gleefully irreverent jab at pop-psychology books.
The visuals look dated now, with those awful 60's hats and hairdos, and that bright orange, yellow, and red decor; yet, even that is part of the film's charm.
"How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying" is wonderfully entertaining. And its biting social commentary is as timely now as it was in 1967.
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