B-Movies of our Youth: The Secret of My Success (1987)
Updated: Nov 21
Movie Name: The Secret of My Success
Directed by: Herbert Ross
Produced by: Herbert Ross
Starring: Michael J. Fox, Helen Slater, Richard Jordan and Margaret Whitton
Release Date: April 10th, 1987
Budget: $12 - $18 Million
Box Office: $110,996,879
This movie is one that you rarely hear about. It was released just when the Michael J. Fox's Hollywood star was on the rise. At this time he was staring in the popular TV show, Family Ties. He had starred in what would become as one of the most popular movie franchises of all time in Back to the Future. He was also in the first Teen Wolf, which was a surprise success. So all was going well for Michael J. Fox. Why has this movie fallen through the cracks of time? Let us see and find out.
Michael J. Fox plays the character of Brantley Foster. He is a young graduate from Kansas State University. He has big dreams and wants to hit it big in New York. He was supposed to work for a company as a financier. However, once he reaches New York city, he realizes that the company has been bought out and due to budget cuts, his position was abolished.
Learning of this news he starts looking for another job. Unfortunately, like it is the case in the real world, he is having a hard time finding a job. Finally, he gets an opportunity at Pemrose Corporation, which is run by his uncle Howard Prescott. Brantley will be working in the mailroom.
During his time in the mailroom, Brantley comes across company reports and realizes that the company is not being run very efficiently. So he comes up with a plan. Since he is in the mailroom he knows the company layout very well. He has noticed that one of the offices was empty, due to a recent firing. So he takes the opportunity to take residency there and he came up with his alter ego, Carlton Whitfield. Mr. Whitfield is supposed to be a new executive in the company.
This is where the story becomes a little more complicated. At the beginning playing both personas (Mailroom boy and Exec) is fine. However, it is becoming more and more difficult to properly assume both roles. Something at some point has to give.
While this is happening, Howard (the company CEO) is having an affair with Christy (played by Helen Slater) and asks to spy on on this new Carlton Whitfield as something does not seem right with him. While she does this, she eventually falls for Brantley.
Howard, suspects that Whitfield is working for an opposing company that is coming in to take over the Pemrose Corporation. Then at one point, Brantley's cover is discovered and due to this, he is fired. Christy is also fired due to not continuing the affair with Howard.
in the end, Christy, Brantley and Vera (Howard's wife played by Margaret Whitton), raise enough money in order to get Howard out of power and make a bid for the company. Vera, then advises that Howard will no longer be running the place and that Christy and Brantley will run things.
The Secret of My Success Trailer
"The Secret of My Success" (performed by Night Ranger)
"Sometimes the Good Guys Finish First" (performed by Pat Benatar)
"I Burn for You" (performed by Danny Peck and Nancy Shanks)
"Riskin' a Romance" (performed by Bananarama)
"Gazebo" (performed by David Foster)
"The Price of Love" (performed by Roger Daltrey)
"Water Fountain" (performed by David Foster)
"Don't Ask the Reason Why" (performed by Restless Heart)
"3 Themes" (performed by David Foster)
"Heaven and the Heartaches" (performed by Taxxi)
Like this movie, this soundtrack is very 80's. There are some pretty big names on the soundtrack such as David Foster, Night Ranger and Pat Benetar. Big names do not necessarily mean that it will be a good soundtrack. The song that I probably like the most on the album is Sometimes the Good Guys Finish First by Pat Benatar.
Sometimes the Good Guys Finish First - Pat Benatar
The Secret of My Success by Night Ranger was actually nominated for a Golden Globe Award but it lost to (I've Had) The Time of My Life, which was the theme to Dirty Dancing. However, I do not think that it is that good of a song, but take a listen and judge for yourself.
My Secret of My Success by Night Ranger
How does this movie fare after all of these years? It is kind of a mixed bag. I truly believe that the movie made as much as it did because of Michael J. Fox. His name was guaranteed money back then and this movie is proof of that. Put in any other actor in his place and the movie would not have made as much money.
The story itself is quite unbelievable. However, the charm of Micahel J. Fox, makes this movie bearable. Seeing him move from one persona to another and having trouble keeping it under wraps, is fun. This movie has a lot of similarities with Opportunity Knocks (1990) with Dana Carvey. It is possible that the latter was based loosely on elements of this movie.
The cast themselves are not bad per say and did what they could with the script that they got. Margaret Whitton for me is a standout in comparison to the other supporting actors.
All in all, it is a fun movie to watch, but do not expect a deep movie. It is a comedy with some slapstick, low brow humor and a story that is so out there, that it makes no sense. The only reason that it is fun for me, is due to Michael J. Fox. Like many of his other works, he brings that something to the screen that makes you feel like you want to root for him. This was the case in Family Ties, Teen Wolf, and Back to the Future.
If you like Michael J. Fox, you may think that this is a hidden gem. If you are not a big fan of him, you will probably find this movie boring. but I am one of the few that actually liked it and enjoyed it. Again, it is stupid and brain cells are not used when watching the movie. There is enough here to make me chuckle and make it on a retro movie night ever so often.
Rating: 3.75 Executives out of 5
Do you remember this flick? Let us know your thoughts below.