IMDb > How to Get Ahead in Advertising (1989)
How to Get Ahead in Advertising
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How to Get Ahead in Advertising (1989) More at IMDbPro »

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How to Get Ahead in Advertising -- Trailer for How To Get Ahead In Advertising
How to Get Ahead in Advertising -- US Home Video Trailer from Warner Home Video


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Bruce Robinson (written by)
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Release Date:
29 March 1990 (West Germany) See more »
The Career Where Two Heads Are Better Than One
Dennis Dimbleby Bagley is a brilliant young advertising executive who can't come up with a slogan to sell a revolutionary new pimple cream... See more » | Add synopsis »
(26 articles)
User Reviews:
Flawed but bloody funny See more (33 total) »


  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Richard E. Grant ... Denis Dimbleby Bagley

Rachel Ward ... Julia Bagley

Richard Wilson ... John Bristol
Jacqueline Tong ... Penny Wheelstock

John Shrapnel ... Psychiatrist
Susan Wooldridge ... Monica
Hugh Armstrong ... Harry Wax
Mick Ford ... Richard
Jacqueline Pearce ... Maud

Christopher Simon ... Waiter
Gino Melvazzi ... Waiter
Victor Lucas ... Tweedy Man
Dawn Keeler ... Tweedy Woman
Kerryann White ... Girl in Elevator
Vivienne McKone ... Sullivan Bristol Receptionist
Donald Hoath ... Businessman on Train
John Levitt ... Businessman on Train
Gordon Gostelow ... Priest

Pip Torrens ... Jonathan

Tony Slattery ... Basil

Rachel Fielding ... Jennifer
Pauline Melville ... Mrs. Wallace
Roddy Maude-Roxby ... Dr. Gatty

Francesca Longrigg ... Nurse
Tanveer Ghani ... Hospital Doctor
Joanna Mays ... Phillis Blokey

Sean Bean ... Larry Frisk
rest of cast listed alphabetically:

Eric Idle ... Male Love Bird (voice) (uncredited)

Bruce Robinson ... The Boil (voice) (uncredited)

Directed by
Bruce Robinson 
Writing credits
Bruce Robinson (written by)

Produced by
Ray Cooper .... co-producer
George Harrison .... executive producer
Denis O'Brien .... executive producer
David Wimbury .... producer
Original Music by
David Dundas 
Rick Wentworth 
Cinematography by
Peter Hannan 
Film Editing by
Alan Strachan 
Casting by
Lucy Boulting 
Production Design by
Michael Pickwoad 
Art Direction by
Henry Harris 
Set Decoration by
Robyn Hamilton-Doney 
Costume Design by
Andrea Galer 
Makeup Department
Peter Frampton .... makeup creation
Peter Frampton .... makeup designer
Sue Love .... hair stylist
Production Management
Kathy Sykes .... production manager
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Dominic Allen .... assistant director
Peter Kohn .... assistant director
Melvin Lind .... assistant director
Art Department
Les Andrews .... art stand-by
John Bastin .... construction
Pete Beasley .... construction
Frank Berlin .... construction
Bruce Bigg .... property master
Peter Bigg .... dressing props
Peter Browne .... art stand-by
Alan Chesters .... construction manager
Stan Cook .... dressing props
Charles Cottrell .... construction
Martin Duffy .... construction
Peter Duffy .... construction (as Peter Duffey)
Jim Foran .... construction
Les Henning .... construction
Danny Hunter .... art stand-by
David Ned Kelly .... art stand-by (as Ned Kelly)
Patrick Lynch .... construction
Dennis Maddison .... props buyer
Larry Marchant .... construction
Don McLellan .... construction
Brian Morris .... art stand-by
John Robertson .... art stand-by
Ray Rose .... dressing props
Brian Webb .... construction
Michael Webb .... construction
Sound Department
Allan Brereton .... sound maintenance
Alan Paley .... sound editor
Trevor Rutherford .... boom operator
Paul Smith .... dialogue editor
Otto Snel .... dubbing mixer
Clive Winter .... sound mixer
David Stephenson .... sound recordist (uncredited)
Special Effects by
Sue Higgins .... foam
Ruth Hogg .... special effects runner
Richard Neal .... special effects sculptor
Daniel Parker .... animatronic constructor
Mike Quinn .... puppeteer (as Mike Quinby)
Luke Sawh .... special effects runner
David White .... animatronics
Nik Williams .... animatronic constructor
Camera and Electrical Department
Sophie Baker .... still photographer
Adam Cooper .... camera loader
Alan Grosch .... electrician
Brian Martin .... best boy
Andrew McDade .... electrician
Reg Parsons .... gaffer
Luke Quigley .... grip
Ronnie Rampton .... electrician
Bob Smith .... camera operator
Stefan Stankowski .... focus puller
John Turner .... electrician
Casting Department
Marilyn Milgrom .... casting secretary
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Heather Williams .... wardrobe
Editorial Department
Pat Brennan .... assistant editor
Paula Connor .... assistant editor
Peter Holt .... associate editor
Kevin Lane .... assistant editor
Sarah Thomas .... assembly editor
Music Department
Keith Grant .... music engineer
Gerry O'Riordan .... assistant music engineer
Rick Wentworth .... conductor
Rick Wentworth .... orchestrator
Transportation Department
Mike Beaver .... transportation
Roy Clarke .... transportation
Dave Manning .... transportation
Other crew
Bobby Blues .... production accountant (as Bob Blues)
Vicky Burton .... trainee
Gilly Case .... location manager
Stephanie Clark .... production secretary
Valerie Craig .... production coordinator
Gordon Davis .... assistant accountant
Lynn Hoey .... runner
Jacky Holding .... accounts secretary
Sally Jones .... script supervisor
Lorraine Luke .... trainee
Graham Norton III .... trainee (as Graham Norton)
Libby Shearon .... unit publicist
Guy Tannahill .... location assistant
Inger Best .... special thanks
John Buckley .... special thanks
Cathy Bunce .... special thanks
Denis Carrigan .... special thanks
Marigold Charrington .... special thanks
Bob Crowdy .... special thanks
Neil Grimshaw .... special thanks
Rand Holston .... special thanks
Richard Kuttner .... special thanks
Lee Martin .... special thanks
Gerry O'Riordan .... special thanks (as Gerry O'Riorden)
Paul Olliver .... special thanks
Ronnie Pearce .... special thanks
Anthony Price .... special thanks
Mary Selway .... special thanks
Willy Smax .... special thanks
Martin Sponticcia .... special thanks
John Stanborough .... special thanks
Ralph Steadman .... special thanks
Paul Talkington .... special thanks
Ian Weil .... special thanks
Crew believed to be complete

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
90 min
Color (Technicolor)
Aspect Ratio:
1.85 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:

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 »
Continuity: 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...
See more »
Movie Connections:
Edited into Video Macumba (1991) (V)See more »


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10 out of 15 people found the following review useful.
Flawed but bloody funny, 14 March 2006
Author: Ricky Roma ( from

In Withnail & I, Bruce Robinson made one of the funniest films there is. Therefore it's always going to be hard for anything else he's made to equal his debut. However, in How to Get Ahead in Advertising he comes mighty close.

The reason why Robinson's second film fails to match Withnail & I is because at times it becomes too preachy. There are some great speeches in the film; some wonderful digs at consumerism, but occasionally it descends into uninteresting ranting. Yeah consumerism can turn us into unthinking automatons, and yeah big business is greedy, but you don't really need to point it out so blatantly. We already know this. The film works much better when illustrates the BS or when it jabs at it. It doesn't need to get on its soapbox.

One of my favourite bits in the film is when Bagley (Richard E. Grant) – a cocky advertising executive who suddenly loses his magic touch when he has to sell boil cream – is listening to a bunch of idiots talking about a newspaper article. As a person who makes a living out of lying, he's appalled that they believe what the press tells them. They then begin to argue (there's a great bit when an Irish priest insists that a woman in a vice den had peanut butter smeared across her tits; it was in the paper so it must be true) and the conversation quickly turns to the boil cream that Bagley has become obsessed with. "They're incurable, all of them. I know that and so does everybody else. Until they get one. Then the rules suddenly change." And then he has a dig at the priest. "They want to believe something works. He knows that, which is why he gets a good look-in with the dying." It's a great scene; it's funny as hell and it also has a good point to make: people consume less out of desire and more out of a desperate sort of hope, or even fear; they hope this product or that product will fill the hole in their lives. They hope it will be the answer to all their problems. And thankfully this scene refrains from the preaching that affects the latter stages. Instead it goes right for the jugular.

But my favourite scene of all is the one with the psychiatrist – Bagley has quit his job and developed a hideous boil of his own, one that talks to him and one that has a face. He's talking to the quack with a big bandage on his shoulder. He rants for a while about the way advertisers have ruined television, and then all of a sudden, after silence, the boil speaks. The way it's presented in the film, the boil (at first) has a separate voice to Bagley's. He's not portrayed as Gollum with a satanic pimple; he's not talking to himself. But at the same time you're never really sure whether you're seeing things from Bagley's perspective. He's gone totally crazy, so he may very well be the one saying all this crap. Plus the boil only speaks when Bagley's not looking the other person in the face. But what I love about the scene is the filth the boil speaks and Grant's reactions. His hysteria is hilarious (there's another magnificent bit of hysteria in the film – when the boil first 'speaks', Bagley is so shocked that he runs to the kitchen, shaking and spazzing like he's got St Vitus' dance. Grant is amazing at working himself up into a lather). And then the boil asks Bagley to tell the shrink about his grandfather. "My grandfather was caught molesting a wallaby in a private zoo in 1919." "A wallaby?" "It may have been a kangaroo. I'm not sure." "You mean sexually?" "I suppose so. He had his hand in its pouch." I haven't heard dialogue that funny in a long time.

I also love the scene when Bagley is admitted to hospital to have the boil lanced. By now he's completely raving. He's going on and on about the evils of consumerism. So then the boil says, "You commies don't half talk a lot of s***." Magnificent! It's the sort of argument a Daily Mail reader would give. Criticise capitalism and you must be a goddamned Red. However, I can see where the boil is coming from. There are certainly times when Robinson is too militant. Like I said before, he really doesn't need to stand so high on his soapbox. But at the same time the film makes some excellent points. It's just that the film works better when it does it through comedy rather than rhetoric.

Another great scene, one that takes a poke at society's hypocrisy, is when Bagley argues with a feminist who thinks men should bleed. "And I think you're a vegan who eats meat in secret. You see, she doesn't deny it. She's a vegan who eats meat in secret." "I do not eat meat!" "But you'll eat fish, you'll eat fish until the cows come home." "Fish is allowed!" Of course, this enrages Bagley.

But although hypocritical lefties get a kicking too, the film, early on, raises an interesting point. If you're anti-consumerism, how do you spread your message without advertising? It's a bit of a kick in the teeth, that.

However, Robinson is smart enough to know that consumerism is here to stay. The film doesn't end with any hope. All we can look forward to is more advertising, more spending and more products. The world is one magnificent shop, indeed.

Was the above review useful to you?
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Discuss this movie with other users on IMDb message board for How to Get Ahead in Advertising (1989)
Recent Posts (updated daily)User
How did everyone discover this film? justsomerandomirrelevantweirdo
Great mock ads... VivaAcetate
voice of boil? (sort of spoiler) lovecomesinspurts
Did the boil have a name? llbrokenmindedll
the love birds slduncan79
Does anyone else see the hypocisy?! ozkit2003
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