Tony Mastroianni Review Collection

"Secret" More Failure Than Success

Cleveland Press January 3, 1966

"Secret of My Success" is an absurd, formless, shapeless affair that was handsomely photographed and well acted. Trouble with it is a script that wanders off in several directions resulting in a very uneven motion picture.

Hero of "Secret" is James Booth, a happy, smiling simple soul who thinks well of everyone. He has just inherited a fortune and a castle and the secret of his success, he explains, is the advice of his mother (Amy Dolby).

That advice is: "Have faith in people. Believe in mankind. Never search for evil."

Booth started out on his way to success as a bungling country constable, then became a bungling police inspector, finally a bungling official in a South American republic.

In each of the three episodes our ingenuous hero is both conned and dazzled by an attractive woman as each gets away with murder.

In episode one Stella Stevens has done away with her husband but after fluttering her lashes at Booth he's on her side in spite of the ravings of his superior officer (Lionel Jeffries).

IN THE SECOND installment he investigates a death apparently caused by a giant spider which occurred in a castle occupied by a baron and baroness (Jeffries again and Honor Blackman). Again Booth is hoodwinked.

In each instance his mother, a rascally woman who doesn't believe in her own advice, suspects the truth and uses it to advance her son via a little blackmail.

In a South American country he is assistant to the president (Jeffries again) and he unwittingly helps a revolutionary leader (Shirley Jones) take over the country.

JEFFRIES IS PERFECT in his multi-role assignment. Booth almost carries it off as a latter-day Candide and with a better script he might have succeeded. The Misses Stevens, Blackman and Jones also do better than their parts deserve. Amy Dolby is fine as the conniving little old mother.

The picture was produced by Virginia and Andrew Stone; direction by Andrew Stone; screenplay by Andrew Stone.

It's a case where a little outside aid might have helped.