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How to Get Ahead in Advertising (1989)

R  |   |  Comedy, Fantasy  |  29 March 1990 (West Germany)
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Reviews: 33 user | 39 critic

Dennis Dimbleby Bagley is a brilliant young advertising executive who can't come up with a slogan to sell a revolutionary new pimple cream. His obsessive worrying affects not only his ... See full summary »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Denis Dimbleby Bagley
Julia Bagley
John Bristol
Jacqueline Tong ...
Penny Wheelstock
Susan Wooldridge ...
Hugh Armstrong ...
Harry Wax
Mick Ford ...
Jacqueline Pearce ...
Gino Melvazzi ...
Victor Lucas ...
Tweedy Man
Dawn Keeler ...
Tweedy Woman
Kerryann White ...
Girl in Elevator
Vivienne McKone ...
Sullivan Bristol Receptionist


Dennis Dimbleby Bagley is a brilliant young advertising executive who can't come up with a slogan to sell a revolutionary new pimple cream. His obsessive worrying affects not only his relationship with his wife, his friends and his boss, but also his own body - graphically demonstrated when he grows a large stress-related boil on his shoulder. But when the boil grows eyes and a mouth and starts talking, Bagley really begins to think he's lost his mind. But has he? Written by Michael Brooke <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The Career Where Two Heads Are Better Than One


Comedy | Fantasy


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

29 March 1990 (West Germany)  »

Also Known As:

Come fare carriera nella pubblicità  »

Box Office


$418,053 (USA)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The classic Aston Martin seen in the Bagleys' garage belonged to writer/director Bruce Robinson. A 1961 DB4 Convertible of which only 70 were made, he owned it for 30 years and it was auctioned off in 2008. See more »


After Bagley has lunch with his wife, she drops him back at the advertising firm's office building, but it is a different building to the one used for the interior scenes, which is the tall red building several hundred yards up the street (visible in the crane shot of their car pulling up), right next to the Lambeth bridge, as we can see from the window view in the scenes in Bagley's and Bristol's offices. See more »


[first lines]
Denis Dimbleby Bagley: Let me try and clarify some of this for you. Best Company Supermarkets are not interested in selling wholesome foods. They are not worried about the nation's health. What is concerning them, is that the nation appears to be getting worried about its health, and that is what's worrying Best Co., because Best Co. wants to go on selling them what it always has, i.e. white breads, baked beans, canned foods, and that suppurating, fat squirting little heart attack traditionally known as ...
See more »


Referenced in Pulp Fiction (1994) See more »


Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity from the Planets Op. 32
Composed by Gustav Holst
Conducted by Allan Wilson
Published by J. Curwen & Sons Ltd.
See more »

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User Reviews

The Man From "Boil Busters" Pays The Price Of Creativity
2 August 2014 | by (New Zealand) – See all my reviews

Just like having dandruff, B.O., and/or bad breath, having boils (especially one that has a bad attitude and can talk) is certainly no laughing matter, or is it?

It would be an understatement to say that having a lippy, ego-centric carbuncle can make one extremely unpopular at any social function.

So you can well-imagine the unpleasant predicament advertising whizz-kid, Dennis Bagley, found himself in when, sure enough, he discovered a sizable, jabbering boil growing out of his shoulder, at the base of his neck.

For the most part, I found 'How To Get Ahead In Advertising' to be quite a novel and entertaining look at the ill-effects of job-related stress, paranoia, and split-personality disorder.

Offensive, insulting, quirky, & bizarre - Actor Richard Grant (and all of his agitated and haywire ranting & raving) delivered a hyperactive, adrenaline-rush performance as Dennis Bagley, the hilariously irritating ass from "Boil Busters".

Even though this 1989, British comedy wouldn't suit everyone's tastes, it still does contain enough genuinely comical moments to make it worth at least one honest viewing.

Yes. This film definitely hit its fair share of bona-fide bum-notes, but, generally speaking, its cynical and sneering look at the advertising business was quite a frank, and, yes, even refreshing one, at times.

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