"How to Succeed" is a snappy satire of big business and is one of the most energetic and likeable movie musicals ever. As the story opens, J. Pierpont Finch (Robert Morse) is a poor but very confident window washer; he finds a "how-to" book that can teach him to climb the corporate ladder in no time at all. Ponty follows the book's advice and advances from the mailroom of the World Wide Wicket Company to become its president, falling in love with secretary Rosemary (Michele Lee) along the way.
The movie looks like a staged play, and that's a good thing, since this was such a smash hit on Broadway. It preserves forever the innocence of the early sixties with vibrant colours, secretaries in pillbox hats and gloves, and references to Metrecal and Wildroot Cream-Oil. Above all, it is a joyful celebration of musical talent. Morse originated the stage role of Ponty and this movie made him an even bigger star. He is a great singer and dancer, but it's his larger-than-life personality and toothy charisma that keep you rooting for him. He's simply adorable. Michele Lee is perfect as his leading lady, and Rudy Vallee reprises his stage role as the singing, dancing, and knitting Big Boss. The Frank Loesser songs are staged with the big band sound of Nelson Riddle, and you'll be singing along with the clever tunes that poke endless fun at office politics. This movie will make you smile; it's wonderful.