The late Robert Morse shines in the film “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying”
“How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” (1967) is a delightful musical comedy movie sure to put a smile on your face.
Robert Morse, the star of the movie, plays J. Pierpont Finch, a young man in his 20’s in New York City whom we watch sing and dance his way up the corporate ladder and right 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’s 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 the performance by Robert Morse is funny, charming, and to be honest, better than I expected. He’s 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 definitely saw similarities to another prominent comic of the 1960’s, Jerry Lewis. Watching Morse’s antics and facial and body expressions, you may also think of other short-statured natural clowns from days gone by, such as Buster Keaton, and Charlie Chaplin.
The well-known songs in “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 staging for both the film and Broadway versions of “How to Succeed.”
Almost 30 years after winning his first Tony Award for “How to Succeed,” Robert Morse won another Tony Award in 1990 for portraying the writer Truman Capote in the one-man Broadway play, “Tru.”
From 2007 to 2015, Morse also portrayed advertising executive Bertram Cooper in the popular TV series, “Mad Men.”
“How to Succeed” is available for free (though with lots of irritating commercials) on Pluto TV (pluto.tv).
The movie is also available for viewing on YouTube and Google Play, for about $4.
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A long-term resident of Chicago’s Ravenswood area, Hartmann worked in reference publishing for 20 years. He was a researcher for “Who’s Who in America,” and was a longtime editor of a newsletter covering developments in the U.S. Congress. He’s currently working in directory publishing. He can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com.
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