In honor of Sunday’s Season Four Premier of Mad Men, I thought I’d treat you swingers to a little fun flick from 1967…based on the Broadway musical, here’s
How to Succeed in Business Without Even Trying
from 1967 starring a young and crazy Robert Morse as J Pierrepont Finch.
When I first watched Mad Men four years ago, the one person that really clicked in my head was Cooper. He had a very familiar look, especially his expressions. Through the magic of the modern interwebs I was able to do a world-wide search for this actor’s previous accomplishments (Ok, I went right to IMDB) and realized I had recently seen the kat in How to Succeed in Business!
Man, what a great circle of events. Robert Morse originated the part of “Ponty” in HTSIBWET in 1961 and won a Tony for best actor. When the movie came along he, along with Rudy Vallee, Ruth Kobart and Sammy Smith all recreated their roles from the Broadway version. His character starts out as a window washer who, with the help of a book entitled, “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” decides to take a shot at climbing the corporate ladder. Executive is written all over his future, and his goal is to someday run the company.
Change the timing by 30 years, and it becomes very easy to see Cooper’s character starting out with some of the same characteristics, basically making his character in How To Succeed a possible background (although a goofy one) for Burt Cooper. (What’s really funny is how the film treats the Advertising Department and its stigma at the company).
Basically, it’s a very kool connection for the retro series Mad Men to make by hiring an actor who actually portrayed these types of characters at the actual time this series takes place. Dig?
As for the movie itself, what a fun flick it is. It’s a musical with some swingin’ tunes. The sets are fantastic…more early-60s style than late. Ultra Modern and swanky-galore. Since it was originally staged in ’61, the movie maintains that era’s look and feel.
There are a lot of laughs, and by the end you’ll be hoping the kid makes it. When it’s over, watch a first season Mad Men and you’ll see a few cues from this movie. The kids that put this series together definitely watched this flick once or twice!
-Tiki Chris reporting from the screening room at World Wide Widgets.
This is Tiki Lounge Talk, the swingin’ retro tiki blog for kool kats and hip kitties.
3 Replies to “For The Mad Men Lovers: How To Succeed In Business Without Even Trying, 1967 for Mod Movie Monday”
How to Succeed is one of my favorite musicals and thanks to Mad Men, a whole new generation of fans are watching it now to see the genius Robert Morse! We talked with him recently at the ACE Eddie Awards and found out he’s a huge Clint Eastwood fan! Watch our Robert Morse interview here! Thanks!
It must have been amazing to see this amazing kat live onstage. I agree with you about Morse and Cooper’s character. It may well be that this season shows Don way over his head, needing Cooper to set things straight at the agency.
Without doubt, Robert Morse is one of the top ten stage performers of the 20th Century. Little wonder he segues so easily and firmly into Mad Men.
I saw Robert in “Succeed” back in New York City during the sixties and have followed his career ever since—through up-and-down-roles and parts in both films and onstage. His one-man stage drama of the life of Truman Capote was more than just great. It was a work of art.
If I’m any prognosticator at all, producer Matt Weiner recognizes what a camera-wise, versatile, and talented performer he has in Robert Morse.
And more and more, as this series unfolds, it will be Robert Morse, through the genius of Matt Weiner, who will be the icon and the bonding material that holds the entire and complete structure of Mad Men in toto.
This show could, and should, evolve into the long-awaited successor to “Dallas”.
Weiner’s the guy to make the plays and call the signals and Morse will do both with a professionalism that precious few entertainers possess.
My personal hope is that the entire cast watch Robert Morse closely; he makes all the right moves at just the precise time, his reaction to others while they are engaged in dialogue, is simply marvelous to behold. What an absolute pro the man is!