powered by AFI
Written as a satiric guide to climbing the corporate ladder, How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (1967) proved to be publishing gold for its author, Shepherd Mead. Mead wrote the novel while working on Madison Avenue and watched as his story became a bestseller in 1952. Apparently an example of his own get-rich method, Mead retired from the work world at 41 and moved to the English countryside. There he would go on to write other how to books like, How to Succeed with Women Without Really Trying, How to Live Like a Lord Without Really Trying and How to Succeed in Tennis Without Really Trying.
Mead's story was first adapted for the stage in 1955 by playwright Willie Gilbert and Jack Weinstock, a neurosurgeon who wrote plays in his free time. Their version would be put to music by Frank Loesser, who wrote the songs, and Abe Burrows, who created the musical book. The play that emerged added an element of romance and even more social commentary to Mead's tale. The first person cast in the stage version of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying was Robert Morse as J. Pierpont Finch, the window washer who takes Mead's book to heart. Actor/bandleader Rudy Vallee soon joined Morse as his boss at the World Wide Wicket Company.
Morse and Vallee would follow the play to Hollywood, taking the same parts in the film. Likewise, Michele Lee, who joined the Broadway cast after the original actress departed, would renew her role as girlfriend Rosemary. The adapted screenplay was written by David Swift, who also served as producer and director on the film. Swift began his Hollywood career as a Disney animator, later writing and directing such family classics as Pollyanna (1960) and The Parent Trap (1961). He went onto work as a TV writer and director on shows that spanned from Alfred Hitchock Presents to Barney Miller. Swift also had a small part in How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. Keep an eye out for him as an elevator operator.
Producer:David Swift, Irving Temaner
Screenplay:David Swift, Abe Burrows (play), Willie Gilbert (play), Jack Weinstock (play), Shepherd Mead
Music:Frank Loesser (songs), Irving Temaner
Art Direction:Robert F. Boyle
Principle Cast:Robert Morse (J. Pierpont Fince), Michele Lee (Rosemary Pilkington), Rudy Vallee (Jasper Biggley), Antony Teague (Bud Frump), Maureen Arthur (Hedy LaRue), John Myhers (Bert O. Bratt), Carol Worthington (Lucille Krumholtz).
by Stephanie Thames