Robert Morse shines in the film “How to succeed in business…”
“How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” (1967) is a delightful musical comedy that is sure to put a smile on your face.
Robert Morse, the film’s star, plays J. Pierpont Finch, a young man in his twenties in New York City whom we watch sing and dance his way up the corporate ladder and into our hearts.
Morse, a native of Newton, Massachusetts, just outside of Boston, died on April 20, 2022 in Los Angeles at the age of 90.
From 1961 to 1965, Morse also starred in the original Broadway production of “How to Succeed”, for which he won a Tony Award.
In parts, the movie version of “How to Succeed” feels dated. For example, there is a song called “A Secretary is Not a Toy”.
But the songs by Frank Loesser (of “Guys and Dolls” fame) are lively and uplifting, and Robert Morse’s performance is funny, charming, and, to be honest, better than I expected. He is a natural clown, who can sing and dance.
And at 5’5″, with a good build, he’s kind of like a Mighty Mouse.
Watching Morse perform, I certainly saw similarities to another top 1960s comic, Jerry Lewis. Looking at Morse’s antics and facial and body expressions, you may also think of other short-lived natural clowns of yore, such as Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin.
Well-known songs from “How to Succeed” include “The Company Way”, “I Believe in You”, and “Brotherhood of Man”.
Bob Fosse, a native of the Ravenswood area of Chicago, provided musical direction for the film and Broadway versions of “How to Succeed.”
Nearly 30 years after winning his first Tony Award for “How to Succeed,” Robert Morse won another Tony Award in 1990 for portraying writer Truman Capote in the one-man Broadway play, “Tru.”
From 2007 to 2015, Morse also portrayed advertising executive Bertram Cooper on the popular television series “Mad Men.”
“How to Succeed” is available for free (but with lots of irritating ads) on Pluto TV (pluto.tv).
The film is also available for viewing on YouTube and Google Play, for around $4.