Cinema: Cracking the Morse Code

How to Succeed In Business Without Really Trying is almost note for note a reincarnation of the 1961 Broadway hit. Therein lies its troubles as well as its triumphs.

On stage, Succeed succeeded by being as broad as it was wide. A pastel-colored animated cartoon of contemporary big business, it musically chronicled the rise of a bright-eyed, bushy-tailed rodent, J. Pierpont Finch (Robert Morse), who won the rat race by running just fast enough to keep up with his boss (Rudy Vallee).

On film, Succeed often fails by seeming to run in place. Director David Swift has staged far too many of the...

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