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 »
3,345 ( 660)
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?


When Brantley, a non-smoker, puts his feet up on the desk, he reveals dozens of burn marks. At the time, Michael J. Fox was a heavy smoker. The burn marks are the result of Fox extinguishing cigarettes with his shoe. See more »


During the scene where Brentley is escaping the dogs by jumping over the fence, in the first cut you can see the dogs clambering after him and in the next cut they're nowhere to be seen. See more »


[after reviewing Brantley's (faked) résumé]
Mrs. Meacham: Outstanding! Outstanding!
Brantley Foster: You're not going to tell me I have too much experience, are you?
Mrs. Meacham: Certainly not - you're perfect for the job.
Brantley Foster: Great!
Mrs. Meacham: Except...
Brantley Foster: No! No exceptions! I want this job, I need it, I can do it. Everywhere I've been today there's always been something wrong, too young, too old, too short, too tall. Whatever the exception is, I can fix it. I can be older, I can be taller, I can be anything.
Mrs. Meacham: Can you be a minority woman?
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 »


Spoofed in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories (2006) See more »


Riskin' a Romance
Written by Siobhan Fahey, Ollie Marland and Paul Weller
Performed by Bananarama
Produced by Daryl Hall and T-Bone Wolk (as Tom 'T-Bone' Wolk)
Bananarama appears courtesy of London Records Ltd.
See more »

User Reviews

M.J. Fox Walking On Sunshine in Go-Go 80's
9 September 2019 | by Instant_PalmerSee all my reviews

Michael J. Fox is walking on sunshine at the apex of his career success (1987) in this contagiously likable Herbert Ross produced and directed comedy.

Ross brings his prolific success from stage, opera, ballet, movies, and TV to this fun, frolicking and much-improved upon non-musical update of the 1960's Broadway and movie classic 'How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying'.

Herb is a bona-fide Hollywood legend, who over 40 years, worked with some of the greatest in the biz: Ray Stark, Neil Simon, Woody Allen, Mike Nichols, Vivien Leigh, Barbara Streisand, Baryshnikov, Shirley MacLaine, Anne Bancroft, Tom Skerritt, Liz Taylor, Peter O'Toole, Jerry Lewis, Milton Berle, Steve Allen, Steve Martin, Richard Dreyfus, Kevin Bacon, Goldie Hawn, Dolly Pardon, Julia Roberts, Sally Fields, Olivia Dukakis, Sam Shephard, and Michael J. Fox, plus many more.

Few can compare to Herb's Rennaisance-Man performing-arts background as a dancer, actor, choreographer, director and producer. Movies and/or plays he directed and/or choreographed include another 80's classic 'Footloose', as well as The Turning Point, The Goodbye Girl, Play It Again Sam, Protocol, California Suite, Nininski, The Seven Percent Solution, Funny Girl, Funny Lady, On A Clear Day You Can See Forever, The Owl And The Pussycat, Who's Afraid Of Virginia Wolf, Inside Daisy Clover, Goodbye Mr. Chips, The Sunshine Boys, Max Dugan Returns, I Ought To Be In Pictures, Pennies From Heaven, My Blue Heaven, True Colors, Steel Magnolias, Boys On The Side, and more.

But 'The Secret Of My Success' is ALL about Michael J. Fox, and Ross choreographs this non-stop comedy romp through the corporate take-over era of the 1980's, that engagingly showcases Michael's comedic acting style - an absolute must-see film for any MJ Fox fan.

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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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