1961 Broadway musical with music by Frank Loesser and a book by Abe Burrows, Jack Weinstock, and Willie Gilbert. The show follows the meteoric rise of a young window cleaner, J. Pierrepont Finch, through the ranks of the World Wide Wicket corporation. The show, which ran for over 1,400 performances in its initial run, featured Robert Morse as Finch and Rudy Vallee as the corporate president.
The play was based on the satiric book by Shepherd Mead, an advertising executive at Benton and Bowles. The choreography for Broadway was by Bob Fosse (Hugh Lambert choreographed one number, "The Yo-Ho-Ho"). It was Vallee's first time on Broadway in 25 years. The part of Finch was written specifically with Morse in mind. From the chorus, Donna McKechnie went on to fame and fortune in Company and A Chorus Line. The original production won seven Tony awards: Best Musical, Leading Actor in a Musical (Robert Morse), Featured Actor in a Musical (Charles
Nelson Reilly), Outstanding Director of a Musical (Abe Burrows), Outstanding Author, Musical Play (Burrows,
Weinstock and Gilbert), Outstanding Conductor and Musical Director (Elliot Lawrence) and Outstanding Musical
Producer. Only Frank Loesser lost out for best Composer.
The 1967 movie, directed by David Swift, is delightfully dated. The hairstyles, fashions, sex roles, and portrait of early 1960s corporate America are priceless. Only Vallee, Morse, Sammy Smith and Ruth Hobart reprise their stage roles. Four songs were dropped, Michelle Lee (who had replaced Scott on Broadway as Rosemary) sang "I Believe in You" instead of the stage version's "Happy to Keep His Dinner Warm." Extra scoring was done by Nelson Riddle. The movie was shot in Panavision, which choreographers Fosse and Dale Moreda used to full advantage--if you can't find the DVD, be sure to rent the widescreen version of the video.