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The Secret of My Success (1987)

aka The Secret of My Success

"There's no such thing as an overnight success. Brantley Foster took two weeks."

Directed By: 
Details: 111 mins · English · PG-13 (USA)


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Small Christy Wills
Small Howard Prescott
No_movie_poster Vera Prescott
Small Fred Melrose
Small Herself (uncredited)
Small Brantley Foster
Small Brantley Foster aka Carlton Whitfield


No_movie_poster Paul Hirsch Editor
No_movie_poster Jim Cash Screenplay
No_movie_poster Jack Epps Jr. Screenplay
No_movie_poster Carlo Di Palma Director of Photography
Small Herbert Ross Director
No_movie_poster AJ Carothers Screenplay
No_movie_poster David Chasman Executive Producer
Small David Foster Original Music Composer


"There's no such thing as an overnight success. Brantley Foster took two weeks."


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.

Release Dates:

DVD : 1998-10-27