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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:
Harry Wax
Jacqueline Pearce ...
Gino Melvazzi ...
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 »

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Release Date:

29 March 1990 (West Germany)  »

Also Known As:

Come fare carriera nella pubblicità  »


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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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Edited into Video Macumba (1991) See more »


Composed by Pete Townshend
Performed by Joanna Mays
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User Reviews

superb as entertainment and as social satire
20 June 2004 | by See all my reviews

Just to illustrate Black_Rider's depth of critical thought (or lack thereof), I'd like to point out that there are more trees in the U.S. now than there were in colonial times because the country is about 10 times as large now (thanks to native genocide and the unprovoked invasion of Mexico, among other things). That's one essential point of How to Get Ahead in Advertising: capitalism isn't about products, it's about selling. The drive for profit favors high-risk, short-term oriented business strategies. Businesses can't afford to think in the long term, or a more irresponsible competitor will undercut them. Businesses centered around rapidly shrinking natural resources such as the paper, lumber, fishing and oil industries are going to keep selling their products as fast as they can until they become so rare (i.e. depleted) that there's no longer a market for them. Then they'll either go belly up or move on to a more profitable market. But the market on a whole is unconcerned with matters like preserving enough forests to allow us to keep breathing, its only directive is to continue the exponential acceleration of its growth. As the movie points out, this ever-increasing growth of industry has to be supported by increased consumption, which means the all-pervasive coercion of advertising doing its damnedest to convince us we need things we don't to solve problems we didn't know we had.

This movie is a favorite, both for the pure entertainment of a captivating fantasy and the razor-sharp screeds against commodity culture. It's not simple-minded leftist sloganeering; although it's clearly hyperbolic, the underlying critique is, in my opinion, quite sophisticated. Although I love Withnail and I, I'd have to say I get more out of this film.

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