94 user 36 critic

The Secret of My Success (1987)

PG-13 | | Comedy, Romance | 10 April 1987 (USA)
0:31 | Trailer
A talented young man can't get an executive position without rising through the ranks, so he comes up with a shortcut, which also benefits his love life.


Herbert Ross


Jim Cash (screenplay), Jack Epps Jr. (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
3,967 ( 852)
Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 1 win. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Michael J. Fox ... Brantley Foster / Carlton Whitfield
Helen Slater ... Christy Wills
Richard Jordan ... Howard Prescott
Margaret Whitton ... Vera Prescott
John Pankow ... Fred Melrose
Christopher Murney ... Barney Rattigan
Gerry Bamman ... Art Thomas
Fred Gwynne ... Donald Davenport
Carol Ann Susi ... Jean (as Carol-Ann Susi)
Elizabeth Franz ... Grace Foster
Drew Snyder ... Burt Foster
Susan Kellermann ... Maureen
Barton Heyman ... Arnold Forbush
Mercedes Ruehl ... Sheila
Ira Wheeler Ira Wheeler ... Owens (as Ira B. Wheeler)


Brantley Foster, a well-educated kid from Kansas, has always dreamed of making it big in New York. On his first work day in New York, he is fired in a hostile take-over and learns that jobs - and girls - are hard to get. When Brantley visits his distant uncle, Howard Prescott, who runs a multi-million-dollar company, he is given a job in the company's mail room. Then Brantley meets Christy Wills, who happens to be one of the top executives. Brantley sees how poorly the company is being run and decides to create a position under the name Carlton Whitfield, to influence and improve the company's operations. Soon things get unexpectedly out of hand, not in the least because of his aunt, his girl and leading a double life. Written by watzdabigdeal

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


There's no such thing as an overnight success. Brantley Foster took two weeks.


Comedy | Romance


PG-13 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


The book that can be seen on Vera's bed when Howard sneaks out of the bedroom is Chéri and The Last of Chéri written by Colette. See more »


On the chart in Whitfield's office, the abbreviation for Vermont is written "V.T.," which doesn't make any sense. See more »


Fred Melrose: Hey, you look like death on a cracker, man. What happened to you?
Brantley Foster: Well, I was chased by a 200 pound dog with a mouth as big as my head. And that was the best thing that happened last night.
Fred Melrose: What was the worst thing?
Brantley Foster: Got laid.
Fred Melrose: Not sure you got your priorities straight, Brantley.
See more »

Alternate Versions

There are two different ending sequences. In the first, after they leave the boardroom Fred and Vera meet and start to flirt. Christy and Brantley go into the elevator which stops between floors. In the second version, this scene is ommitted and we cut to several weeks later where the two couples climb into a limo and go the opera. The first shows up on the video releases, whereas the second shows up in broadcast versions. See more »


Referenced in A Planet Comicon Panel with Helen Slater (2011) See more »


Sometimes the Good Guys Finish First
Written by Pat Benatar, Khris McDaniels and Holly Knight
Performed by Pat Benatar
Produced by Neil Giraldo
Pat Benatar appears courtesy of Chrysalis Records
See more »

User Reviews

Runs like a well-oiled machine.
6 December 1998 | by paul-154See all my reviews

When I was in the process of preparing three projects with the aim of getting a job, I must have watched this movie 14 times or so. It is enormously energetic, it runs perfectly from the very first image to the last. It helped me prepare my interviews. Great humor and some lovely love scenes. Great confusion. Ok, so it's not always that likely to be happening in real life. But the fun is tremendous. Swell to dream on... To all makers involved: good for you!

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Release Date:

10 April 1987 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Secret of My Success See more »


Box Office


$12,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$7,766,452, 12 April 1987

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Stereo



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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