Brantly Foster (Michael J. Fox) is determined to make a splash in New York. Fresh out of college, he
leaves the family farm and heads off to seek his fortune and a "meaningful encounter with a beautiful woman."
Once in New York, he loses his job and sets off in search of a new one. Desperate, he contacts Uncle Howard
Prescott, president of Pemrose Corporation, successfully bidding for a job - in the mail room. His eagerness
to move beyond the mail room soon has him digging through corporate memos and stock reports and being seduced
by the wife of one of the executives. What a surprise to find out the woman is his Uncle's wife - and
his aunt. With a bit of luck, and he manages to pass himself off as a new executive at the company under the
name Carlton Whitfield. Carlton is a bright, young business man who sees the oncoming hostile takeover of
Pemrose as an opportunity to expand the company. He must convince Christy Wells (Helen Slater), that
expansion is the key to fighting off the takeover rather than cutting costs. Trying to stay one step ahead
of his mail room supervisor, pursuing his career as Carlton Whitfield, staying out of his aunt's bed and getting
into Christy's are just a few of the secrets to his success.
Universal's new widescreen transfer, available for the first time on video in the proper aspect ratio of
1.85:1, is sharp and colorful. Previous transfers of the film were muddied and overly dark. These errors
are all corrected, restoring the fine image details of the theatrical image. The outdoor photography at the
house in the country is visually stunning in its scope and the vivid colors are at last represented properly.
An anamorphic transfer may have improved the image, but this transfer is glorious none the less.
There is one flaw however, which is present throughout the film. Fine details which are offset by the
surrounding image by sharp contrast or brightness tend to blink and flicker. For example, the light
reflecting off the uprights of a brass desklamp; the sharp edge of a glass door held open which catches the
overhead lighting. It can be very distracting. This appears to be an effect of the pre-encode filtering
rather than a compression artifact or defect in the transfer. The same type of blinking is present on several
other Universal titles including The Day of the Jackal. The affect also can be seen in other
areas of the film. An example is at 32:50 in the film, when Brantly looks through the slats of the pool house
window up to the mansion where his uncle is crossing the yard. A close examination of the branches and
leaves of the large tree on the left of the screen will show the entire tree shimmer and shake. The bitrate
at the time takes a sharp spike from 4.75mb to 6.25mb within just a matter of seconds, but the detail is
The Dolby Surround soundtrack is crisp and well defined. The dynamic range is full, capturing all the low
ends of the pop soundtrack and the subtleness of David Foster's score.
The menu system utilized by Universal is now standard fair for their DVD titles. Available under the bonus
features menu are talent bios for the four major actors and the director. Universal has also included both
the teaser and theatrical trailers, presented back to back off a single button. Web Links are also available
and can be utilized by loading the disc into a DVD drive equipped PC.
The currently available LaserDisc edition was released in 1988. It is a full screen transfer and is overall
both softer and darker in image. The soundtrack is also a bit muted when compared to this DVD edition. This
new DVD edition is head and shoulders above anything previously available. A personal "guilty pleasure", I
only wish the title did not experience the visual problems which are present. Other than this drawback,
The Secret of My Success is a light-hearted, fun romp up the corporate ladder and a treat on DVD.