The Secret of My Success (1987)

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Released 19-Sep-2001

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Production Notes
Biographies-Cast & Crew
Theatrical Trailer
Web Links
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1987
Running Time 105:41
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (57:10) Cast & Crew
Start Up Programme
Region Coding 4 Directed By Herbert Ross

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Michael J. Fox
Helen Slater
Richard Jordan
Margaret Whitton
Case Soft Brackley-Transp
RPI $36.95 Music David Foster

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
Not 16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, closing credits over action

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    The Secret of My Success is not what you might think - it is not a documentary on the life of Michael J Fox. Shame, that might have been more interesting. And it is not a sequel to My Brilliant Career, either. That too might have been more interesting.

    No, this is somewhat hackneyed farce, made a little more tolerable by the chemistry between Michael J Fox and Helen Slater. I think that Working Girl did a much better job with pretty much the same material. Sure, Melanie Griffith is not as gorgeous as Helen Slater, and Harrison Ford cannot compete with Michael J Fox when it comes to looking young, but I think that makes their effort even more admirable - Working Girl's climax is much more credible, and far less deus ex machina. Even so, The Secret of My Success is not a bad film.

    OK, I've told you it's not great. What else should I tell you? Well, let's start at the beginning. Brantley Foster (Michael J Fox) is a bright young kid who moves from rural Kansas to big city New York to be a success. He has a job lined up, but reports to work to discover that the job is gone because the company has been taken over. He has no intention of returning home immediately, so he starts looking for work. Eventually he gets a job in the mailroom of a large company run by his uncle. From here he plots how he might make his mark and advance to a better position in the company. No, this is not How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying - that's a musical starring Robert Morse, and considerably funnier. Look, when it comes down to it, this is an old-fashioned bedroom farce, and there are several of those done rather better than this.

    I'm sorry, I know there are people who really like Michael J Fox and his movies. If you really want to see him do "smart kid with big plans makes good", then get The Concierge - it is a better movie.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality


    This disc starts with a new Universal logo, presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and 16x9 enhanced - beautifully crisp and clear. It is a shame that that is the only 16x9 enhanced footage on the disc. Following this, we get an older Universal logo, and the movie starts, presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, and not 16x9 enhanced. 16x9 enhancement might have helped the image.

    The picture is not overly sharp, but at least there's no edge enhancement to be seen. Shadow detail is not strong, especially in scenes with lower light. There is only one scene exhibiting low level noise, and even there it is minimal.

    Colour is somewhat washed out. There are colours that should be fully saturated, but aren't.

    There are no visible film artefacts, which is nice, but there is a ton of aliasing. Virtually every shot has aliasing, shimmer, or moire in some way or another. Some of the aliasing affects quite large portions of the screen. Venetian blinds produce some of the worst (see 34:48, for example), but there are hard diagonal edges on much of the architecture that contribute their fair share.

    The subtitles are available in fourteen languages, including English. The subtitles are clear and easy to read, in a large simple font, in white with a black border. Quite accurate and not overly abbreviated.

    The disc is RSDL formatted. The layer change is at 57:10, on a still scene, making it virtually invisible. Layer changes are getting better all the time.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    There are five soundtracks, but only one is English, so that's all I listened to. It is Dolby Digital 2.0, surround encoded. The closing credits mention Dolby Stereo, so I suspect this is the original soundtrack.

    Dialogue is clear and mostly easy to understand

    The score uses a number of pop songs in clichéd ways. David Foster can hardly be proud of his work on this film.

    This is a surround soundtrack, but you can't tell without looking at the flags in the soundstream - the surrounds were given nothing significant to do, and the subwoofer slept through the movie. That's OK, because this is a dialogue-driven movie.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



    The menus are static and silent.

Production Notes

    Ten pages of text, telling the story of the production of this movie.

Cast and Filmmakers

    Brief bios and filmographies for:

    The filmographies stop in 1994 / 1995 - did the people stop making movies? Or did someone get lazy?

Theatrical Trailer

    This is a brief trailer, presented in 1.78:1, and not 16x9 enhanced. The quality is fair, but the contrast seems excessive.

Universal Weblinks

    Without a DVD-ROM drive, this displays just the basic web link for Universal:

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 and Region 4 discs have identical content.


    The Secret Of My Success is a mediocre film, presented on a mediocre DVD.

    The video quality is acceptable.

    The audio quality is reasonable.

    The extras are not exciting.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Monday, September 24, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDArcam DV88, using Component output
DisplaySony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE
SpeakersFront Left and Right: Krix Euphonix, Centre: Krix KDX-C Rears: Krix KDX-M, Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5

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