How to
Succeed in
From Stage
to Screen



The Cast


Robert Morse .... J. Pierpont Finch
Michele Lee  .... Rosemary Pilkington
Rudy Vallee .... Jasper B. 'J.B.' Biggley
Anthony 'Scooter' Teague .... Bud Frump
Maureen Arthur .... Hedy LaRue
John Myhers .... Bert O. Bratt
Carol Worthington .... Lucille Krumholtz

Kay Reynolds .... Smitty
Ruth Kobart .... Miss Jones
Sammy Smith .... Mr. Twimble/Wally Womper
Jeff DeBenning .... Gatch
Janice Carroll .... Brenda
Robert Q. Lewis .... Tackaberry
Paul Hartman  .... Toynbee
Dan Tobin .... Johnson
John Holland  .... Matthews
Justin Smith .... Jenkins
Murray Matheson .... Benjamin Ovington
Patrick O'Moore .... Media Man #1
Lory Patrick .... Receptionist
Wally Strauss .... Media Man #2
Hy Averback .... 2nd Junior Executive
George Fenneman .... TV Announcer
Carl Princi .... 1st Junior Executive/Voice
Sheila Rogers .... 1st Girl
Robert Sweeney  .... 3rd Junior Executive
Ivan Volkman .... President of the United States

Paul Bradley .... TV Board MemberJunior Executive/Dancer
Joey Faye .... Taxi Driver
Don Koll
Al Nesor .... News Seller
Erin O'Brien-Moore .... Mrs. Frump
Barry O'Hara
Virginia Sale .... Cleaning Woman 
Anne Seymour .... Gertrude Biggley
Tucker Smith .... Passerby
David Swift  .... Elevator operator
Helen Verbit .... Finch's landlady






The Crew


Directed by
David Swift

Shepherd Mead
David Swift
Abe Burrows
Willie Gilbert
Jack Weinstock
Frank Loesser

Produced by
David Swift
Irving Temaner

Original music by
Nelson Riddle

Cinematography by
Burnett Guffey

Film Editing by
Allan Jacobs
Ralph E. Winters

Shirley Mellner

Art Direction
Robert F. Boyle

Set Decoration
Edward G. Boyle

Costume Design by

Robert J. Schiffer .... makeup artist
Fae M. Smith .... hair stylist

Allen K. Wood .... production supervisor
John D. Bloss .... assistant director
Michael J. Dmytryk .... assistant director

Robert Martin .... sound
James Richard .... sound editor

Mary Blair .... color design
Richard Carruth .... music editor
Nate H. Edwards .... unit manager
Edward Folger .... production assistant
Bob Fosse .... original choreography
Sam Gordon .... property master
Leslie Hall .... ladies costumer
Jimmy Joyce .... vocal supervisor
Marie Kenney .... script supervisor
William Maldonado .... construction co-ordinator
Dale Moreda .... choreographer
Charles Mulvehill .... production associate
Virgil Partch .... visual gags
Clem Portman .... recording editor
Norman Stuart .... dialogue supervisor
Ed Ware .... costumer: men





The Songs




Whilst on his way to work as a window washer, J. Pierpont "Ponty" Finch discovers a book at the newspaper stand called "How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying". He purchases the book and aims to begin his climb to the top.


How to

Complete with a suit and book in hand, Ponty stumbles in to World Wide Wicket, a large corporation and applies for a job. He bumps into JB Bigley, president of the company, who recommends Ponty visit the personnel department.

On the way, he meets Rosemary, a young secretary, who takes a shining to Ponty. Together with her two friends, Smitty and Lucille, they introduce Ponty to Mr Bratt who gives him a job in the mailroom.


Coffee Break

This instrumental shows a group of secretaries starting work for the morning, complete with nail filing and hair styling. As the song finishes, we hear a man yell "Coffee break!".

Click here for a midi of the song



In the mailroom, Ponty meets Mr Twimble who explains that he has been stuck in the same position for many years. Ponty, however, has read his book and finds a way to convince Mr Bratt to upgrade his position to clerk.


is Not a Toy

Hedy LaRue , a love interest of Mr Bigley, arrives at World Wide Wicket in the hope of becoming a secretary. Catching the eye of all male employees, she is shown to Mr Bratt's office.

Click here for a midi of the song


Been a
Long Day

The end of the week. Smitty, Rosemary and Ponty are waiting for the elevator. This charming number is catchy! Smitty stands centre with Rosemary and Ponty on either side. Filmed as two different monologues, Ponty and Rosemary sing to themselves about getting together to an onlooking Smitty. She suggests dinner that night and Ponty agrees.


I Believe
in You

After dinner, Ponty walks Rosemary home, only to become lost in his thoughts. By following the book, he knows that after two days he should be higher in the company. Rosemary explains that he has already accomplished a great deal but he still wishes to pursue his career further and faster.

Click here for a midi of the song


Old Ivy

With another brainwave idea, Ponty arrives at the empty office early Sunday morning, knowing that Mr Bigley would arrive searching for his golfing equipment. Convinced that Ponty had been there all weekend, Bigley decides to complain to Mr Bratt to get him promoted.

"Grand Old Ivy" works more as a football chant as Bigley sings the theme song from his favourite team. Ponty, in the usual tradition, convinces him that he once played in the team.



Promoted, Ponty realises that his book is failing unsuccessful with his new boss, Mr Overington. After speaking with Rosemary who describes him as the "company mystery man", Ponty plans to disguise himself as a window washer and listen in on Mr Overington's phone conversations. He discovers that Mr Overington is a supporter of the Chipmunks, the opposing football team to Mr Bigley. Seeing this as a perfect opportunity, Ponty tells Bigley who fires Mr Overington and promotes Ponty to vice-president in charge of advertising.


Gotta Stop
That Man/

I Believe
in You

In his new position, Ponty must hold a board room meeting with ideas for
promoting World Wide Wicket. Bud Frump, Bigley's evil nephew, hands Ponty a
plan regarding a treasure hunt which had been passed off by Bigley in
previous years. Unknowing of this trick, Ponty uses the ideas to present at
the meeting.

Prior to the meeting, Ponty becomes suspicious of the other men, but
remembers Rosemary's words about believing in himself.


of Man

listen to the midi


A reprise



From Stage
to Screen


As in the tradition of Cabaret, this film suffers from too much dialogue and too little musical score. But at the same time, the plot is so uniquely structured that it becomes and entwined musical/drama masterpiece. Cleverly created and visually colourful, this spoof of the business world provides enough entertainment to maintain your attention for two full hours. The transition from stage to screen saw many numbers scraped but the best ones remain. Reprises their stage roles are Robert Morse, Michelle Lee and Rudy Valee as Ponty, Rosemary and Mr Bigley. A standout (and my personal favourite) is Smitty. ?? shines in the role and her "Been A Long Day" can be easily labelled the best song in the film. May critics have noted weaknesses in the film are the choreography and costumes. However, one must not complain - could you imagine a secretary  dancing the "Time Warp" in her office or a male clerk wearing a safari suit?
All actions are suitable to the roles portrayed. HTSIBWRT stands out as one of my favourite films of all time.




If you would like to discuss
How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
Please contact

Kristian Fletcher here...

If you would like to discuss the website
or to suggest another Movie Musical, contact
Glenn Whelan here...



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