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How to Get Ahead in Advertising (1989)

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
Penny Wheelstock
Hugh Armstrong ...
Harry Wax
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 <michael@everyman.demon.co.uk>

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:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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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 »


During the anniversary party, the strap on Julia's dress changes shoulders for one scene. When the dress is on the opposite shoulder, it looks a different colour as well. 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 ...
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Spoofs The Manster (1959) 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.
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User Reviews

Not exactly satire, not exactly farce
23 October 2010 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

If you want nuance, you'll not find it here, subtlety, pah!!! No, it's laid on with a shovel as advertising executive Richard E Grant discovers advertising is more shallow than a paddling pool, and like said pool, if a toddler was unable to contain a lavatorial need, full of....well,you know what! The trouble is, although we see Grant having his breakdown, becoming obsessive and growing a boil which becomes his alter-ego, we do not see his journey, he's dubbed a success by everyone, but we do not see him succeed. We merely witness the repercussions of his desultory realisation that he's been part of the problem, rather than the solution.

The idea of the talking boil is fun, but the scriptwriter/director didn't know whether to make it surreal, knockabout or farce, in the end sticking to what he perceives as satire. I'd have liked the themes to have been developed more - together with the two differing characters within the same body. We each see thousands of commercials on television, commercialisation is everywhere, referees and umpires have ads on their sleeves, I'm expecting the police to have sponsors' names on their trousers when they finally come to get me.

This needed a little more subtlety, more comedy with the beautiful wife, who seemed discomforted by having sex with the brash alter-ego - that could have produced an amusing scene or three.

It's much better that Robert Altman's unsuccessful parody of fashion, Pret-a-Porter, but uses a sledgehammer to lance a boil.

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