Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
USA, 1967. The Mirisch Corporation. Screenplay by David Swift, based on the musical book by Abe Burrows, Jack Weinstock, Willie Gilbert, from the novel by Shepherd Mead. Cinematography by Burnett Guffey. Produced by David Swift. Music by Nelson Riddle. Production Design by Robert F. Boyle. Costume Design by Micheline. Film Editing by Allan Jacobs, Ralph E. Winters.
Plucky window washer Robert Morse buys a book called “How To Succeed In Business” and seeks to follow it step-by-step, beginning by climbing through the World Wide Wicket Company’s window and getting himself a job in the mail room. Within two days he’s a junior executive, within a week he’s in the advertising department, all of it thanks to his own clever sense of manipulation. Along the way he finds love with Michele Lee and makes an enemy of the boss’s nephew in this thoroughly delightful adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Broadway musical. The stage cast has been kept more or less intact, while the musical score has been treated rather poorly, but what numbers remain are staged with plenty of energy and snap. Call it a musical version of The Apartment if you will, an effective romantic comedy with the added bonus of its critical look at corporate business and the soulless, impersonal nature that it has given to society’s general attitude towards work and relationships. Morse is pushing it a bit too often, still trapped in his Tony Award-winning stage performance, but he’s also very appealing, while Maureen Arthur shines as bombshell Hedy LaRue, the boss’s “secretary”.