The Secret of My Success (1965)

Article 4681 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 11-14-2014
Directed by Andrew L. Stone
Featuring Shirley Jones, Stella Stevens, Honor Blackman
Country: UK
What it is: Comedy

A naive police constable who ends up inheriting a fortune shares the secret of his success.

The central character in this episodic comedy is a police constable whose utter naive faith in people and goodness makes him totally oblivious to the corruption of those around him. At heart, this is not a bad idea, and with the right actor in the role (say, someone like Peter Sellers), it could have worked beautifully. Unfortunately, the role went to James Booth, and though I’m not familiar enough with the actor to say how he fares in other roles, all he really brings to this one is a forgettable blandness, and the role almost fades into the background. As a result, he’s upstaged by his three female co-stars (all of whom are credited higher than he is) and Lionel Jeffries, who takes on four roles in the movie. Yet even they can’t breathe life into a static and lifeless script, and though some of the ideas are very good, the execution is listless. The movie consists of three episodes, and I really love the idea in the third episode, in which a mythical Central American country is taken over by rebels pretending to be shooting a movie. There’s a real comic potential with that idea that remains sadly unrealized here. The primary fantastic content to this movie is in the second episode, which involves giant spiders. My print of this movie runs only 99 minutes, which is 13 minutes shorter than the original print, but somehow I don’t suspect that seeing the full version would make this one any better. This movie is a missed opportunity.


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