The Secret of My Success

The Secret of My Success Information

The Secret of My Success (sometimes stylized as The Secret of My Succe$s) is a 1987 American comedy film starring Michael J. Fox and Helen Slater, produced and directed by Herbert Ross (best known for Footloose). The story is written by A.J. Carothers, and the screenplay is written by A.J. Carothers, Jim Cash and Jack Epps, Jr., who previously co-scripted Top Gun.


Brantley Foster (Michael J. Fox) is a recent graduate of Kansas State University who moves to New York City where he has landed a job as a financier. Upon arriving, he discovers that the company for which he is supposed to work has been taken over by a rival corporation. As a result, Brantley is laid off before he even starts working.

After several unsuccessful attempts to get another job, mostly because he is either overqualified or underqualified and has little experience, Brantley ends up working in the mailroom of the Pemrose Corporation, which is directed by his uncle, Howard Prescott (Richard Jordan), the CEO. Pemrose was founded by Prescott's father-in-law; Howard received presidency of the company by marrying his boss's daughter, Vera Pemrose (Margaret Whitton).

Upon inspecting company reports, Brantley realizes that Prescott and most of his fellow "suits" (executives) are making ineffective and/or non-beneficial decisions. After Brantley notices an empty office in the building, due to one of Howard's frequent firings, he assumes the identity of Carlton Whitfield, a new executive.

While handling two jobs (switching between casual wear and business suits in the elevator), Brantley also falls head-over-heels for Christy Wills (Helen Slater), a fellow financial wizard who recently graduated from Harvard. Brantley meets Vera after driving her home in a company limo (at his employer's request). Vera persuades Brantley to stay for a swim and seduces him. Upon seeing Prescott arriving, Brantley and Vera realize they are related (albeit not by blood). Brantley then gets changed as fast as he can and leaves the mansion without being seen by Prescott.

Prescott, without Brantley's knowledge, is having an affair with Christy. When Howard asks her to spy on Carlton Whitfield, Christy falls head-over-heels for Carlton, not knowing he is actually Brantley. The Pemrose Corporation is preparing to merge with the infamous Davenport Corporation. Prescott, unaware that Whitfield and Brantley are one and the same person, suspects Carlton is a spy for corporate raider Donald Davenport (Fred Gwynne).

In the end, Brantley and Vera raise enough cash, bonds, and stocks to wrest ownership of the Pemrose Corporation from Prescott, and to proceed with a hostile takeover bid of Davenport's Corporation. Vera, already contemptuous of Howard for his counter-productive business practices, which were driving her father's empire into the ground, learns that Prescott has been cheating on her to boot. She promptly replaces him with Brantley. While security guards escort Howard and his aide, Art Thomas (Gerry Bamman), from the Pemrose Building, Brantley and Christy start planning their future together, personal as well as professional.


  • Michael J. Fox as Brantley Foster
  • Helen Slater as Christy Wills
  • Richard Jordan as Howard Prescott
  • Margaret Whitton as Vera Pemrose Prescott
  • John Pankow as Fred Melrose
  • Fred Gwynne as Donald Davenport
  • Gerry Bamman as Art Thomas
  • Carol Ann Susi as Jean
  • Drew Snyder as Burt Foster
  • Elizabeth Franz as Grace Foster
  • Christopher Murney as Barney Rattigan
  • Mercedes Ruehl as Sheila
  • Cindy Crawford as Herself (uncredited)


The soundtrack was released April 10, 1987. It was produced by noted music producer David Foster, who also contributes several instrumental tracks to the album.

Not all of the songs featured in the film are included on the soundtrack, or, at least not in the same version. The film version of the song The Secret of My Success is slightly different, and also features a mini-instrumental version. The film version of "I Burn for You" does not feature vocals, whereas the soundtrack version does. The "Restless Heart" track from the film has a different title and different lyrics than the soundtrack version.

Popular songs "Walking on Sunshine" by Katrina & The Waves and "Oh Yeah" by Yello are heard in the film but do not appear on the soundtrack.

The Secret of My Success: Music from the Motion Picture Soundtrack peaked at #131 on the Billboard 200.

Track listing
  1. "The Secret of My Success" (performed by Night Ranger)
  2. "Sometimes the Good Guys Finish First" (performed by Pat Benatar)
  3. "I Burn for You" (performed by Danny Peck and Nancy Shanks)
  4. "Riskin' a Romance" (performed by Bananarama)
  5. "Gazebo" (performed by David Foster)
  6. "The Price of Love" (performed by Roger Daltrey)
  7. "Water Fountain" (performed by David Foster)
  8. "Don't Ask the Reason Why" (performed by Restless Heart)
  9. "3 Themes" (performed by David Foster)
  10. "Heaven and the Heartaches" (performed by Taxxi)


Critical response

The film received a mixed response from critics. Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Times wrote; "The Secret of My Success seems trapped in some kind of time warp, as if the screenplay had been in a drawer since the 1950s and nobody bothered to update it." He concluded "Fox provides a fairly desperate center for the film. It could not have been much fun for him to follow the movie's arbitrary shifts of mood, from sitcom to slapstick, from sex farce to boardroom brawls."

However, Vincent Canby, writing in the New York Times, felt it was "close to inspired when the ambitious Brantley finds himself leading two lives", although he noted that "Hanging over The Secret of My Success is the long shadow of Frank Loesser's classic musical How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying."

The film holds a 58% 'rotten' rating at website Rotten Tomatoes.

Box office

The film opened on April 10, 1987, and it debuted at number one at the box office, taking $7.8 million in its opening weekend. It stayed at No.1 for 5 weeks, and was in the top ten films for 2 months. It grossed $66,995,000 in the US. The film went on to gross $44,001,000 worldwide, giving a gross total of $110,996,879.

In addition the film made $29,856,000 on video rentals.

This webpage uses material from the Wikipedia article "The_Secret_of_My_Success_%281987_film%29" and is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. Reality TV World is not responsible for any errors or omissions the Wikipedia article may contain.



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