Nine to Five
Saturday, January 14 at 9 p.m.
This 1980 comedy was directed by Colin Higgins, and co-written by Higgins and Patricia Resnick. The film stars Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda, Dolly Parton and Dabney Coleman. Nine to Five was Parton’s film debut. She also wrote the theme song, which was nominated for an Oscar (Best Original Song), and won a Grammy for Best Country Song.
This is a funny, satiric comedy about the role of women in a corporation throughout the twentieth century. Dolly Parton, Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda have different, stereotyped roles in a corporate department managed by Dabney Coleman. What the corporation even does is irrelevant. We have the buxom personal secretary; the efficient, creative, passed-over administrative assistant; the inexperienced clerk; and the sexist supervisor. There are others supporting the two-dimensional situation, but these four dominate the story.
Predictable scenes play out, relations between the women develop, and plots to redress the balance of power ensue. All are well played and consistent, until farce intervenes. This is disrespectful to the cause, and to the people involved, and wastes a sizeable chunk of the film. The result, in which the women prevail, over a faked signature, to produce important changes in the office, is valuable. It echoes workplace struggles today, but is diminished by the farcical intervention that put the boss out of commission for a while. Even the fact that he had committed fraud was buried in silliness, thus diminishing the effect of the excellent performances. One can only imagine that the actors were frustrated by the dumbifying of their characters’ successes.
by Cicely d’Autremont
Doralee: "I’m as friendly as I know how to be to everyone in that office, and they treat me like a bastard at a family reunion."
Violet: "I’m no fool. I’ve killed the boss. You think they’re not gonna fire me for a thing like that?"
Franklin: "At least you’re pretty. You should see some of the crones who come through here."
Violet: "We’re gonna need a special locker for the hat."
IMDb, TCMDb, Rotten Tomatoes