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The Secret of My Success (1987)

PG-13 | | Comedy, Romance | 10 April 1987 (USA)
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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.

Director:

Herbert Ross

Writers:

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

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Cast

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)
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

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

Genres:

Comedy | Romance

Certificate:

PG-13 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

10 April 1987 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Secret of My Success See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$12,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$7,766,452, 12 April 1987

Gross USA:

$66,995,879

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$110,996,879
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Michael J. Fox and Helen Slater's kissing scenes required a lot of height adjustments, because Fox is much shorter than Slater. See more »

Goofs

When the executives are jogging on the the roof, Mr. Prescott stops running to emphasize his concern of an impending hostile takeover. In the closeup, they are on the Northeast corner of the roof, ascertainable by the East River and Roosevelt Island behind them. In the immediate cut to the wide shot, they are standing on the Southwest corner. See more »

Quotes

Christy Wills: Just tell me one more time what your solution is to this crisis.
Brantley Foster: We don't cut, we expand.
[the waitress, Sheila, arrives]
Sheila: I agree. Expansion is a positive reaction to the universe, while retraction, or cutting back, or pulling off, those are all negative forces. I used to be very negative, and then I took this personality workshop - my whole life turned around. Hiya, my name's Sheila. You make a good-looking couple - how long you been going together?
Brantley Foster: About 20 minutes.
Sheila: Ohhhhh, first date, huh? ...
[...]
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 »

Connections

References Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986) See more »

Soundtracks

Come Get My Love
Written by Robert Marcial
Performed by TKA
Courtesy of Tommy Boy Records
See more »

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User Reviews

 
The Corporate 80s Genre
25 May 2004 | by vertigo_14See all my reviews

I assume it was the proliferation of Yuppies and the Me,Me,Me Age that was responsible for the numerous 80s movies about the cutthroat corporate life. 'Baby Boom' and 'Working Girl' are other titles that come to mind.

The Secret of My Success is a charming movie, though sometimes not a very funny one. As one viewer wrote, it is likely Michael J. Fox's innocent good-natured character that drives what might otherwise be only a mildly amusing movie. Margaret Whitton and John Pankow (had he not said 'suits' so many damn times) are pleasing secondary characters as well, and a much needed counterbalance to the obnoxious characters that Helen Slater and Richard Jordan portray.

Brantley Foster (Fox), fresh off the Kansas farm, learns the harsh reality of a business graduate's life when he travels to New York expecting to become the next CEO of some company. Nevermind find a job, he can't even seem to get past the interview stage, with one rejection after another. And these are some of the funniest lines in the films. Especially, when Brantley asks his interviewer how he can get hard-nosed business experience if no one will hire him. "If we hired you to get experience, you'd take that experience and get a better job. If you'd joined our training program right out of high school, you would've had a job today." Brantley asks, curiously, "Why did I go to college." The interviewer laughs, "You had fun, didn't you?"

Brantley decides to dial up some unknown uncle Howard, hoping to get a job with his company in his last resort. And his first impression work, landing him a job in the mailroom. But Brantely has his sights on bigger, better things, and uses his newfound position to establish his plan. That is, he is going to be the new great employee at Prescott's employee, but as Carlton Whitton, a business mastermind.

Trying to run one life is hard enough, and many comedic mishaps arise when Brantley tries to maintain his own life and pose as Carlton Whitton on a near full-time basis as well. He has trouble separating the two, when he has to keep hiding Carlton Whitton from his uncle Howard, who obviously knows who he is. He simultaneously has to hide his true identity from a fellow coworker that he falls in love with (Helen Slater). Add to the mix that Howard is having an affair with Christy (Slater) and asks her to spy on Cartlon Whitton because he suspects a spy within his company during rumors of a hostile takeover. Can Brantley keep up with it all? It is the only way to prove to anyone that he's not some dumb college kid. His success depends on it.

The movie is kind of funny, and pretty dated. Sometimes Fox's character is too charming. He never seems to get too angry, even after figuring that some people in the company were trying hard to screw him out of his job (both as Carlton and as Brantley). But, his charm and some of those strange mishaps (the sequence with the four characters at the townhouse sneaking around at night is a nice arrangement) keep the movie going. Best recommended for 80s fans or Michael J. Fox fans who would mostly likely be immune to some of the films flaws.


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