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The best come-uppance story ever!
budmassey14 April 2001
You know you've had a boss like this. Someone who stole your ideas, used you to advance their career, and did everything to keep you from getting the credit you deserve. I think of him every time I watch this movie, and although he got his come-uppance, as such people usually do, this one is still more satisfying.

Griffith is a little annoying as the giggly secretary with ambition, but it works. Weaver is the greatest comedic villain since Cruella DeVil. You know she's going to fall, and she does in more ways than one. While she's mending broken bones from a ski trip, her secretary finds a memo capitalizing on her idea the boss had pooh-poohed as a "secretary's notion."

In her boss's absence, Tess (Griffith) uses her boss's name, her office, her home, even her clothes, to break into the rarefied New York mergers and acquisitions world. She even falls for the boss's boyfriend.

Alas, the boss is a fast healer and comes home early. She finds an entry in her secretary's day planner, and it hits the fan.

It's hard to believe this gem was written by the same writer who inflicted Meet Joe Black on us, but we can forgive him. Harrison Ford is at the top of his game as the boyfriend, but Joan Cusack almost walks away with this one, as usual. Joan is the best comedic supporting actress around.

Weaver has one of the the greatest one-liners of all time. When asked if she's sure her boyfriend will propose, she says "We're in the same city now. I've indicated I'm receptive to an offer. I've cleared the month of June. And I am, after all, me."

The go-go 80's may be long gone, along with the power suits, the BIG hair, the Perrier, and the bull market, but this hilarious and heartwarming comedy still works without relying on nostalgia or sentiment!
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Bright, feel-good comedy...George Cukor - move over!
niborskaya10 September 2007
It's up there with any of screwball comedies of the 30s... Carole Lombard, Jean Arthur, Margaret Sullivan. a modern classic...and that's not hyperbole!

I've been watching this movie every now and again for almost 20 years (ye gads!), and it's always entertaining. Tonight, I noticed how effective and subtle an actress Melanie Griffith can be when she's directed well. She's a real jewel in this film. Sweet, sexy, smart with a "brain for business and a bod for sin". Mike Nichols clearly loved filming her. Her expressions are priceless. Watch for the wonderful scene when Harrison Ford and she are walking to the elevator and he's asking her out. That face of hers as the elevator doors close is just heavenly. That's Mike Nichols craft/artistry.

Sigourney Weaver also does a masterful job as a two-faced shark business woman. What's so wonderful about her character, the writing, is that Katherine doesn't have a conscience. She's crafty and slick and manipulative, but she's not out to hurt anyone, just put herself first. It's too bad if anyone get's in her way. She's not nasty, but there is no question that she is the most important person in the universe. It's interesting, too, how her duplicity is reflected in her wardrobe. Most of the professional women in the movie are dressed in ultra-conservative boxy business attire, but Katherine/Sigourney dresses sophisticatedly and elegantly. She knows how to play both sides, the professional yet still sexy professional. She's so powerful in herself that she doesn't feel like she has to dress like a man just because she's in a male- dominated career (mergers/acquisitions). yes, she's a monster/ogre, but as she states, "This is BUSINESS".

Harrison Ford is his usual witty, slightly befuddled nice guy. He's the James Stewart of the baby boomer generation.

Joan Cusack is a phenomenon with her iridescent eye-shadow and Bozo hairdo. I think has the funniest line in the movie-a warning to Tess: "You know, sometimes I sing and dance around the apartment in my underwear. Doesn't make me Madonna....never will". that's rich.

Look for Ricki Lake at the wedding.

I put this movie in the same category as Moonstruck, Educating Rita, Shirley Valentine. Transformation movies. I suppose you could call them modern day Cinderella Stories, but it's more about the women saving themselves as opposed to waiting for Prince Charming.

It's a pleasure to see this movie. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
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Career Women with Big Ideas and Even Bigger Hair
evanston_dad27 July 2008
A pure fantasy served up by Mike Nichols, but a vastly entertaining one.

Melanie Griffith is the secretary with massive hair who pretends to be a corporate business woman when her boss is layed up with a broken leg. The catch is, she finds out she's pretty good at it, and things get complicated when she ends up spearheading a business deal and falling in love with her key partner (Harrison Ford), all the while trying to keep what she's doing from her boss (Sigourney Weaver). It's the kind of movie that could just as easily have been made as a screwball comedy in the 1940s, perhaps with Barbara Stanwyck in the lead role.

The film is a classic in its own small way, one of the best comedies to emerge from the 1980s. Griffith is matched well with her role, so her limitations as an actress don't draw too much attention to themselves. But it's Weaver who steals the show as Griffith's imperious boss. She's a riot as a confident and powerful career woman from hell. And Joan Cusack steals a few scenes of her own as Griffith's best friend and fellow secretary, who sports hair as big as Griffith's and a Joisy accent to boot.

Nichols knows how to direct a comedy so that the funny bits speak for themselves.

Grade: A
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Wonderful, fun, feel good comeuppance tale
roghache2 April 2006
This is a fabulous movie. Maybe not rocket science, but clever enough! It has an engaging plot, an extremely empathetic heroine, a villainous boss, a cheatin' boyfriend, and a handsome new love interest just stepping into the picture. Get your popcorn ready for the comeuppance story of a lifetime.

The tale revolves around a smart secretary named Tess McGill, who wants to get ahead in the Big Apple but is beaten down by her nasty boss, Katherine, who steals her ideas and passes them off as her own. Fortune smiles on Tess when Katherine breaks her leg during a skiing holiday and Tess is able to 'take charge'...that is, until her boss, who recovers all too quickly, returns. Of course there is also a romance brewing here in the form of a handsome investment banker named Jack Trainer, who just happens to be her boss's boyfriend.

Harrison Ford is his typical dashing, magnetic self in the role of Jack Trainer, but it is the two ladies that make this movie. Signourey Weaver is absolutely villainous as an employee's 'worst nightmare' boss, a lady (no, not a lady) high up the corporate ladder, but lacking any semblance of integrity or kindness toward anyone below her in that ladder. You will be itching to see this nasty snob get her comeuppance.

Above all, Melanie Griffith is brilliant in the role of Tess, every viewer's favorite downtrodden secretary. She's a woman with all the intelligence and skills needed to succeed in the corporate world, but is ill used by those above her who put her down. Many employees out there will identify with Tess, having at some point in their lives been ill treated by a boss, whether male or female, with at least shades of Katherine. Furthermore, Tess will surely gain viewer sympathy regarding her unfortunate experiences with her sleazy live in lover, Mick.

The scene featuring the Staten Island ferry is beautifully done, accompanied as it is by Carly Simon's wonderful Oscar winning song, 'Let the River Run'. What an amazing voice! This is really a fantastic, fun movie. You can't help but love it.
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Delightful uplifting tale for any decade.
hitchcockthelegend4 March 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Firstly let me say that I'm stunned at the mediocre rating this film has on this site, secondly I disagree with those users who say the film is too 80s and hasn't aged well because it's central theme fits into any time frame, it is in fact universal in life.

On the surface the film appears to only operate purely as a romantic feel good movie, but scratch away the surface and you find that a great deal of intelligence is coursing thru the veins of this Mike Nichols effort. Dealing with the harshness of trying to get on in the world of business, I found that the film is saying that grit and determination can get you breaks if you have the brains to seize the opportunity, be strong and maybe you can prosper, now it may not always be the case that such endeavours are rewarded, but at least you can say you tried.

A never better Melanie Grifith plays Tess McGill with much heart and passion, and I'm sure that is in no small part down to the adroit people skills that director Mike Nicholls obviously has. Sigourney Weaver & Joan Cusack are equally impressive, with Weaver seeming to relish the role of dastardly boss woman Katharine Parker, whilst Harrison Ford is simply spot on as the love interest with the smart business acumen helping Tess in her quest to make it in the often harsh world of business.

A film with appeal for both sexes, and this particular macho viewer punched the air at the end in appreciation for a fitting finale, good work all round here, 8/10.
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A dated but enjoyable satire
Chris-46325 March 1999
Watching Working Girl ten years after its release, it's hard not to dismiss it as a dated satire of the corporate world of the 1980's. At the same time, that's part of the movie's charm. Even though ten years has made the costumes, hair, and production design irritating, the charm and intelligence of Mike Nichols' Cinderella story still shine through. As does the quality of the performances, which are also revealing a decade later. Harrison Ford makes a perfectly likable romantic lead while Alec Baldwin and Kevin Spacey offer amusingly smarmy comic performances. But the actresses walk away with the movie. Joan Cusack is hilarious in a scene-stealing turn as a Staten Island secretary, and Sigourney Weaver is great as a shrewd and conniving career woman. The brilliance of Weaver's performance is how slyly and genuinely she plays her villianous character, often decieving the audience as she decieves the characters in the movie. And finally there is Melanie Griffith who gave a star-is-born performance as the big-haired secretary who falls in love with Ford's merger specialist and smartly climbs her way up the corporate ladder after Weaver stabs her in the back. Griffith earned an Oscar nod for this performance (as did Cusack and Weaver for theirs) and it's a testament to how funny, sexy, and wonderful she is in the part that even after numerous flops and odd career moves, she's still a well-known movie star ten years later (For an opposite side at this scenario look at Jennifer Beals in Flashdance or Jennifer Grey in Dirty Dancing, both of whom became big stars and then fell off the face of the earth). Nichols' direction is smart, as is Kevin Wade's clever screenplay, and the light and funny romantic comedy leads up to a surprisingly suspenseful and enormously satisfying climax. All-in-all, a satisfying and amusing entertainment.
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One of my favorite comedies is sweet and funny.
obi-37 November 1999
How can you go wrong with this delightful comedy? Besides having a great cast headed by Melanie Griffith, there's Harrison Ford (in one of the rare romantic comedies that suits his talents), Sigourney Weaver and wonderful Joan Cusack. And Olympia Dukakis, Alec Baldwin and Kevin Spacey are in it too (don't blink)! A great musical score and Oscar winning song by Carly Simon, all directed by Mike Nichols, I give this two thumbs up, and a 10!
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Coffee, Tea, Me?
Boyo-210 July 2000
With a cast that includes Melanie Griffith, Harrison Ford, Sigourney Weaver, Alec Baldwin, Oliver Platt and Kevin Spacey, its a minor miracle Joan Cusack got any attention at all. But she did get attention, and a well-deserved Oscar nomination. She is completely hysterical and is one of the best reasons to see this fairy tale set against the big bad world of Wall Street. Her best scene is when she masquerades as Melanie's secretary and makes an offer to Harrison "Coffee, Tea, Me"?
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Delightful, satiric romantic comedy
EffMJay11 September 2016
I just re-watched this and I was so pleasantly surprised at how well it stands up after time. The performances are all terrific, the chemistry between Melanie Griffith and Harrison Ford is very very sexy, Sigourney Weaver is very very funny as the villain, and every single one of the supporting roles ( Kevin Spacey, Oliver Platt, Joan Cusack, Philip Bosco, to name a few) are perfectly cast and performed to perfection. In addition, the writing is funny brisk and sharp and Nichols' direction is the same.

Although a light comedy, it captures perfectly the essence of the corporate New York office culture in the early to late 90s. For those on this board who keep writing this off as a "fairy tale," as something that simply couldn't happen, I have two words for you: Carly Fiorina :)
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Working Girl Works Its Way into Your Heart ***1/2
edwagreen13 June 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Very good film about a young lady, going to night school to get her degree, and further understanding a business career. Melanie Griffith is absolutely delightful in the lead role as that girl. She sees that along the way, you need a push to get ahead and also be at the right places at the right time under the correct circumstances with the people in the know. She also sees a tyrannical boss (Sigourney Weaver) who will take advantage of you and even borrow your great ideas to accomplish her own goals.

Harrison Ford is great as the man in the corporate world, who also is attached to the Weaver character. Philip Bosco is the big boss you want to please and Alec Baldwin, so young and thin, represents the life Griffith wants to get away from.

The wonderful film is almost a more serious "How to Succeed" type of picture. Griffith and Weaver were nominated for Oscars as best actress and supporting actress, respectively.
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fun 80s fashion in good 80s rom-com
SnoopyStyle12 December 2013
Tess McGill (Melanie Griffith) is a smart, plucky, investment worker. She tries to climb the corporate ladder, but she's constantly held back by the sexist environment, and her night school college degree. When she is assigned to be Katharine Parker (Sigourney Weaver)'s secretary, she hoped that things would finally change. She shares a business idea with Katharine. When she finds that Katharine is claiming the idea for herself, Tess takes matters into her own hands.

The subject matter, the style, and the humor is pure 80's. The hair is insane. And there is no accounting for the fashion. It is jaw dropping and unintentionally funny.

As for the story, it's a fairly good happy rom-com from veteran director Mike Nichols. This is possibly Melanie Griffith's best work. She has just enough pluckiness and is a complete sweetheart. Sigourney Weaver is showing her comedic chops. And Harrison Ford is actually a great rom-com leading man.
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A nice little accurate ride
n-mo1 July 2013
I was pretty shocked to learn, after watching this film, that Mike Nichols was the director: a lighthearted, linearly-plotted chick comedy from the man behind the absurdist Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and the character-driven The Graduate, both very heavy drama indeed, is not at all what one might expect.

However, the same quality craftsmanship from the aforementioned two permeates the entirety of this deceivingly simple movie. Though Tess McGill's achievements may seem a bit far-fetched, the story works because its depiction of the New York business and finance world in which she navigates is extremely accurate. The highly sensitive maneuvering in the cutting details is played to a T. We are also treated to the insecure porcine antics of nerdy male big-name school alumni desperate to cover up for their lack of real virility or machismo, as well-as the self-conscious vacuousness of many of their female counterparts, so beautifully incarnated in Tess's boss, Katherine Parker.

Tess's plight, as well, as a frustrated woman but especially as an aging (she's 30) Bright Young Thing frustrated in her attempts to get that seal of validation for her competence and style, ring very true. It doesn't matter whether you're a man or a woman: anyone who has had to work with/for Ivy League alumni without having an Ivy League degree himself, or report to someone younger or barely older than himself, as I have, will begin rooting for Tess quite swiftly.

Harrison Ford's acting doesn't particularly stand out, but it wasn't bad. It helped that Ford was given a role with some degree of substance, though Melanie Griffith clearly outshines him. The omnipresence of Katherine's energy threatening to darken Tess's work, even when Katherine is absent, is quite remarkable, and it's almost frightening how well Sigourney Weaver, herself a Yale alumna, seemed to understand the territory in which she had to play Katherine.

All-in-all, brilliant work. Two thumbs up!
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Brilliant film comedy (warning: spoilers below)
alainenglish27 August 2002
Warning: Spoilers
Right from the opening burst of Carly Simon's magnificent theme song, the audience is taken on a fairy-tale comedy ride with one working-class girl and her striving to get ahead in the competitive business world of New York's money market.

Tess McGill (Melanie Griffiths) is a Staten Island Secretary working for a pair of sleazy bosses in an uptown New York shares company. Never once taking her astute business ideas seriously, they set her up with what she thinks is a job opportunity, but is really an opportunity for a lecherous colleague (a then unknown Kevin Spacey) to try and sleep with her.

Angry, she publicly humiliates them and is fired but a sympathetic Personnel Director (Olympia Dukakis) puts her to work for a female boss Katherine Parker(Sigourney Weaver), who works in Mergers and Acquisitions. Although apparently helpful and sincere, Tess discovers her new boss has been stealing some of her ideas and claiming them as her own. When her boss is injured in a skiing accident, Tess takes over her office and sets about putting together a deal with one of her own ideas........

The acting is excellent on all fronts in this picture. Melanie Griffiths imbues her character with an increasingly confident but very genuine charm. Sigourney Weaver is perfect is her stuck-up, patronising superbitch of a boss. Harrison Ford is also on form here as the man in both their lives, a charming yet almost stuffy man who constantly fears losing his job. Odd, however, that he should receive top billing when he only appears about half-way through the film.

The three leads are given tremendous support in the form of Joan Cusack as Tess's best friend who fears she is getting left behind in the wave of her friend's ambition. Other notable players include Nora Dunn as Katherine's snooty colleague and Philip Bosco as an industry tycoon, who gets the film's funniest line at the film's satisfying finale.

The script by Kevin Wade is excellent, with plenty of funny one-liners and double-entendres. His portrayal of office life may seem a little bit too romantic at times, in spite of the rich business detail with which he imbues it, but this a comedy so this is entirely forgivable.

The whole movie is wonderfully accentuated by a rousing score. Carly Simon's theme tune beautifully captures the film's themes of hope, ambition and fair play.

Enjoyable and exhilarating comedy.
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Working Girl
Coxer9922 April 1999
Wonderful romance-comedy in the tradition of Capra and Sturges with Griffith perfectly cast as a woman posing as a business mogul to get ahead in the corporate world and spite bitchy boss Weaver, who is simply divine. Ford is especially precious in a rare romantic-comedy as Griffith's partner in business and love interest. The story is creative and witty. Mike Nichols' direction is sharp and in the highest form. The fine supporting cast also features Cusack and the always durable Phillip Bosco. Carly Simon's wonderful song won an Oscar.
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"She's your man"
Steffi_P29 November 2011
Although the 60s and 70s are thought of as the age of feminism, it wasn't really until the 80s that women really achieved a bit of equality in movie land. But this being a less radical time, the dramas about powerful women tended to be a synthesis of Women's Lib and Reagan era entrepreneurial optimism. This is after all what success meant in that decade. But of-its-time as it is, Working Girl is still an entertaining and uplifting picture.

Written by Kevin Wade, Working Girl is a nice, neatly-constructed story. On a broad level it could be seen a black-and-white tale of good guys and bad guys. But what saves the characters from appearing one-dimensional is that they are written with a great deal of knowing realism. Who hasn't worked for a boss like Sigourney Weaver's character, or been cheated on by a jerk like Alec Baldwin's? One thing that keeps Working Girl engaging is that, while not an out-and-out comedy it is often tentatively funny in the way that real life is funny, such as Alec Baldwin's futile claim that "This isn't what it looks like".

The effectiveness of Working Girl often hinges on the way its characters are projected. On paper, Tess McGill isn't necessarily sympathetic, and neither is Katherine Parker necessarily unpleasant, at least not in the first half of the movie. However, Melanie Griffith portrays the lead with enough drive to appear credible as a go-getter, but all wrapped in a kind of sensitive charm that makes her likable. It's lucky she didn't inherit her mother's steeliness. And Sigourney Weaver manages to convey a smug and patronising manner that is only hinted at in the script, but never quite overdoing it so it is still believable that Griffith initially warms to her. Harrison Ford is at his best too, moulding the role round his limited range by giving a business-world version of his usual level-headed action hero type.

If you're a fan of the look of this era, Working Girl will be a real treat for the eyes – everything from glorious cityscapes to pouffy dresses. I'm glad director Mike Nichols puts such an emphasis on places and props, without loosing sight of the people of course. The changing fashions of the decade are even woven into the movie's themes, as Griffith swaps her hairsprayed bouffant and dangly bangles for an elegant, simple look. Working Girl is an incredibly 80s movie, but it's also the death of 80s extravagance we're witnessing there on screen. Of course, she still wears a pair of pink glasses with rims the size of beermats, but there you go. 80s extravagance died hard.
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Come run with me now the sky is the colour of blue you've never even seen in the eyes of your mother
captainsinead27 January 2000
That's a a line from the title song, New Jerusalem. One of the best bits of the movie. This is just such a happy, inspiring movie that you have to like it. Harrison Ford is brilliant (when is he not?) and you really feel sorry for Melanie Griffith. The characters are easy to understand. Not the most intellectual film ever but so what. It's fun and a great script.
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Qualified College Grad Secretary Skipped Over--Scenario True to Life--Only the Resolution is Fantasy!
acheapmom3 February 2009
Warning: Spoilers
This is a movie some teen girls (and some clueless men) will not "get"!

Melanie Griffith's slightly irritating "little girl" voice and her fragile "puff of smoke will blow me away" demeanor means that many will not see her as strong and as smart as the tough corporate exec that her boss Sigourney Weaver plays. (The film shows that there's a bit of class snobbery at work in such firms then---and now!)

But many such delicate appearing women are as tough as - lionesses - in desiring to achieve success. My manager sister, for instance. If you do not KNOW this from observation, you are simply too young, too sheltered, or too clueless!

What makes this film NOT dated (except for the "big hair, 80's styles") is that many women out there have ideas, opportunities spoiled by exec. WOMEN (as well as exec. men). (I know a ruthless female boss who stole an underling woman's ideas...What could she do??? It was at a firm dealing in mergers like this one, also!!!) Sigourney Weaver's patronizing superior treatment of Griffith's character is DEAD ON ACCURATE for how I (and some friends) have been treated by exec. women!

Maybe only the office males trying to trade sex for work opportunities are "dated" since they are a "sexual lawsuit target waiting to happen" nowadays.

So---I really like this film but wish it did not have the gratuitous brief sex scenes which add nothing to the main, powerful story line.

An edited version of this film - viewed on a family friendly channel - might be a great discussion starter with both your teen son -and Daughter!
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Who's afraid of Sigourney Weaver?
DeeNine-228 April 2003
Working girl Tess McGill (Melanie Griffith, sporting some serious hair) is continuously being mistaken for a "coffee, tea or me?" kind of person when in fact she works hard, reads widely and studies nights to get ahead in the business world. But the sexist, class-conscious business world just won't take her seriously. Finally she hooks up with Katherine Parker (Sigourney Weaver), a successful but vulturous deal-maker with an elevated opinion of herself who knows how to use people. They set up a mentor relationship with Tess getting the coffee and Katherine spouting the words of wisdom. When Tess comes up with a good business idea, Katherine steals it.

Enter soon after Jack Trainer (Harrison Ford) and we have our triangle. Katherine has broken her leg skiing and Tess has to fill in for her. When Tess discovers that Katherine has ripped off her idea, she decides to assume Katherine's accouterments, including her lavish apartment, her wardrobe, her hairstyle, and as it turns out, her boyfriend. Will she succeed, and will she find true love and happiness with the leading man? Inquiring minds want to know.

Director Mike Nichols, auteur of a number of film land successes of more than average sophistication, including Postcards from the Edge (1990), The Graduate (1967), Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf (1966), etc. with help from screen writer Kevin Wade and Melanie herself, manages to create enough sympathy for Tess that we want her to win. Sigourney Weaver does such a fine job of being a kind of sociopathic villainess that we want her to lose.

Guess what happens?

While this is not on the same level as the three Mike Nichols flicks mentioned above, either in terms of cinematic significance or craftsmanship, it is clever and witty at times, and the story is one that most American women will find easy to identify with. And of course the winner gets Harrison Ford, displaying his usual bodice-busting charm. Only problem (aside from some smarmy pandering to a chick flick audience) is that the chemistry between Melanie Griffith and Harrison Ford is lacking.

See this for Mike Nichols whose direction here can be described as just a working guy trying to make a buck and not doing a bad job of it.

(Note: Over 500 of my movie reviews are now available in my book "Cut to the Chaise Lounge or I Can't Believe I Swallowed the Remote!" Get it at Amazon!)
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The gender-driven battle between horizontality and verticality...
ElMaruecan827 August 2019
As soon as the chorus triumphantly shouted "Let the River Run", I knew "Working Girl" aimed high. And high is the right word as the film opens with a zoom on the Statue of Liberty's face; the panoramic view on this Great Lady hints us about the film's subtext: when women show the light. Carmy Simon's song will win an Oscar and its uplifting tune is undeniable and integral to the success story.

The titular "Working Girl" is Tess McGill who looks like your typical sexy girl who can only dream of being secretary or assistant to some big shot in a big company, but there's more in her, she's not a Harvard alumnus but she took classes and reads a lot. She works hard and is able to provide sound advice whose credibility is spoiled by her little-girl voice and eyes that seem to ask for permission to exist in a man's world. Speaking of men, they treat her like dirt, for lack of another word, feeling she's got more chances to work her way by sleeping with a sleazy coked-up manager played by Kevin Spacey. If she's hungry, she should accept.

Let's get back to the film's opening now, the Statue of Liberty is a woman who stands and stands tall, defying the same verticality than the anonymous and numerous phallic skyscrapers and she's the most emblematic figure of New York. Following the metaphor, Tess is a woman who wants to move vertically, climbing up the professional ladder but through her merit. So when she's asked to sleep with "Bob from Arbitrage", it's again her perception of success. They call it horizontal promotion and she won't have it.

Melanie Griffith has an effective way to play the innocent girl yearning for respect her vulnerability can't earn, she's not a cynical person but she's got her pride and is tired of being looked down as someone who must either sleep or stand wearing skimpy lingerie. Her boyfriend, played by Alec Baldwyn, offers her stockings for her birthday, which says a lot about his own vision of ladies. Dame Statue of Liberty doesn't show anything, and she's the one who's guiding people.

This conflict between horizontality and verticality can even be expressed fashion-wise: men wear typical suits, women having those vertiginous 80s hairdos, Joan Cusack who plays Tess' friend Cyn couldn't have been any more New Yorker on that 'level', and when Tess gets back to the office, she trades her sneakers for high heels, anything that can artificially make women higher than men is welcome. But some women don't need any artifices, or do they?

When her new boss, Katharine Parker comes into the picture, the woman exudes alpha confidence in every gesture, every detail of her notability, she's warm, amiable and authoritarian, always attentive in keeping things smooth and punchy. Parker is the woman Tess wants to become, she adopts her speech patterns, she cuts her hair and cut off the fancy jewelry, but the catch is that she becomes her servant and ironically, Parker become as condescending and insulting as a man would be, a fine touch in a script that could have been labeled as anti-male.

So Tess doesn't turn out to be the lady who shows the light but the one who carries the torch, the casting of Weaver is crucial because she does a great job at hiding her feelings, she's much taller than Griffith and she wonderfully echoes the situation of women caught between two worlds. She's feminine and seductive with the guys, especially Jack Trainer (Harrison Ford) but then harbors her status as a weapon to destroy the spirit of an ambitious woman. Her ambivalence allows us to appreciate the hypocrisy of some women who pretend to be pro-feminism, and yet are only product or accomplices to the system that only select a few to keep the majority under their feet.

This is when the film gets a bit problematic and I won't get into the romantic undertones that could have been kept away from the script. Being a film from the 80s, directed by a man, Mike Nichols, and with Harrison Ford as the top-billed actor, we're allowed to wonder how sensitive to the pleas of women it is.

First of all, I was pleased but also puzzled by the many scenes featuring Griffith in sexy underwear, it made sense where she sneaks into Katherine's wardrobe, but the moment where she vacuums her place might be a tad gratuitous, as if the male gaze found a tunnel through the director's camera, to betray the script. That said, there's a moment where Harrison Ford who plays the smooth office worker, have two long cocktail drinks and women are gazing at him with "yummy" looks, the size of the glasses leave no doubt over the symbols and overall, it was an interesting twist on the usual gender-roles tropes (no pun intended).

The second problem was in the comeuppance Katherine would get, as deserved as it was, I was perplexed by the vulgar way she was treated. The 'bony' line wouldn't have been kept today, but maybe it was her way to 'perish' by the very weapons she used, when a woman gets at the top like a guy, why should her womanhood be an excuse to hinge on. I'm not sure about the way Parker was vilified at the end but maybe her contrast with Tess was crucial to comprehend that the best way to climb your way to success is to do so without compromising your femininity but more importantly, your integrity.

Indeed, and that's why, more than a chick (or chic) flick, it's such a culturally significant film marking with "Wall Street" the end of the yuppie years, there's no dress code to be a successful man or woman, and keeping on the Statue of Liberty metaphor, what's the purpose of standing tall if you have no light to show?
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Working Griffith
angelsunchained12 November 2018
Excellent romantic comedy which has stood the test of time. Griffith and Ford have outstanding on screen chemistry and they should of worked together again. Miss Griffith steals the film and it is her best role. Interesting to see Kevin Spacey and Alec Baldwin in small supporting roles. Great entertainment.
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Highly entertaining study of "the glass ceiling".
rowmorg13 September 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Mike Nichols got a brilliant performance out of his leading lady Melanie Griffiths (pre-face-lift version). She must die looking at this picture now: her bum was enormous, her breasts were too small (just like most actresses'), her face and neck were all puffy and OMG! that appalling hair-do at the start: it really stank and could have put you off the picture for all time. However, it gets really good as Nichols lets a strong script speak and teases good performances out of his players. It's all about the "glass ceiling" that prevents secretaries ever breaking out of their shitty jobs and getting into the executive ranks, and it savours an extra element in showing a female executive (guess what?) stealing a great idea from her secretary. It gives a horribly clear glimpse of the sectionalised American society (workers, executives, super-rich) that makes a mockery of the Statue of Liberty past which the working girls sail in the ferry in the opening scene. All-in-all, a strong satirical film that has stood the test of time, even with its idiotic haircuts.
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Dick Whittington on Wall Street
JamesHitchcock7 December 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Like "Wall Street", which came out the previous year, "Working Girl" is set in the world of world of high finance, but whereas "Wall Street" is a satire on greed and corruption (it famously invented the phrase "greed is good"), "Working Girl"- a romantic comedy set in a big Wall Street corporation- takes a more positive view of the capitalist system.

The main character is Tess McGill, one of the corporation's employees. Tess works as a secretary, but is ambitious to rise higher within the corporate hierarchy, especially as she has just turned thirty and has realised that her boss, Katharine Parker, is slightly younger than her. (In reality, Sigourney Weaver is eight years older than Melanie Griffith, but she looks attractive enough to make this plausible). Tess, however, is held back by her lack of formal qualifications and by her working-class origins, which are betrayed by her accent, by her clothes and most of all by her hairstyle. (To say that Tess has Big Hair would be an understatement; make that Enormous Hair).

At first Tess's relationship with Katharine is a friendly one. Encouraged by her boss, Tess even starts suggesting possible deals on behalf of the firm's clients. Things change, however, when Katharine breaks her leg on a skiing holiday and is forced to take time off work. During Katharine's absence, Tess discovers that her boss has stolen one of her ideas- involving the takeover of a radio network by a client company- and is trying to pass it off as her own. Outraged, Tess decides to try a deception of her own. With the aid of a new hairstyle and Katharine's smart business suits she passes herself off as an executive in the firm and tries to put the deal together. (Tess can't do much about her Staten Island accent, but no-one seems to notice). In the process she meets, and falls for, Jack, a handsome executive with the client company- who just happens to be Katharine's fiancé.

I must admit that Melanie Griffith has not always been my favourite actress. Her breathless, little-girl voice served her well as a teenager in films like "The Drowning Pool", but can sound irritating for a woman in her thirties. "Working Girl", however, is one of her best performances. (It deservedly brought her only Oscar nomination). The plot has some similarities with another Griffith film from a few years later, "Born Yesterday". In both films Griffith plays a working-class girl who is assumed to be dumb, but who proves to be a lot more intelligent and resourceful than anyone gave her credit for.

The film also showed us a new facet to Harrison Ford's talents, as he played the hero of a romantic comedy for the first time. This was not only his first venture into this particular genre, but also probably his best- I was never too impressed by his attempt to re-create the Humphrey Bogart role in "Sabrina" or by "Six Days, Seven Nights". His steady, dependable and decent screen persona, however, serves him well in "Working Girl". Weaver makes a suitably detestable- if desirable- villainess as the devious Katharine, and Joan Cusack gives a good performance as Tess's friend and confidante.

There are also some similarities with "Pretty Woman", another romantic comedy from two years later with a Wall Street background. Neither film might please a strict moralist; indeed, many moralists took great exception to "Pretty Woman" on the grounds that the Julia Roberts character is a "working girl" in the other sense of the term. In the case of this film, the moralists would insist that two wrongs do not make a right and ask why Tess is treated as the heroine when she is just as guilty of deception as Katharine is. Such moralists would miss the point of both films, which give new twists to old stories. "Pretty Woman" is a modern dress version of the Cinderella legend about the poor girl who falls in love with a prince. "Working Girl" casts the heroine in a less passive role- one who achieves success through her own efforts rather than through winning the love of a powerful man. The working class girl ends up on top, while the Ivy League-educated yuppie is cast as the villainess. It is essentially the Dick Whittington story with a modern setting and a woman in the leading role, a poor girl rather than boy making good.

I also liked Carly Simon's theme song, "Let the River Run", even though it did not seem to have much connection with the story. 7/10
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grantss9 April 2016
Entertaining comedy-drama.

Ending is a bit Hollywoodish but the setup and plot development are good. Also has a bit of female-corporate-empowerment message, though not a very powerful one.

Solid performance from Melanie Griffith in the lead role. Signourney Weaver, especially, and Harrison Ford outperform Griffith though. Decent support performances from Joan Cusack and Alec Baldwin.

Interesting to note that the cast includes Kevin Spacey, Olympia Dukakis and Oliver Platt in minor roles and David Duchovny in a very minor, fleeting, role.
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katharine's office
csimpkins5317 June 2015
If Katherine and Jack are so close to being married why does Jack not know that Tess is in Katherine's office? I would think that if a couple is that close to being married they would be quite familiar with each others offices. Anyway, I do like this movie. I've probably seen it 7 or eight times. I'm a heterosexual male, I love women and consider myself to be a gentleman and I feel so sorry for Tess in the horrible way that nearly everyone treats her! The character of Tess is that of a good woman and it hurts me to see a good woman mistreated. With the exception of Jack and her fellow secretaries almost everyone treats her like dirt! Including her sleazy "boyfriend" played by Alec Baldwin, her low as pond scum male co-workers not to mention the quintessential bitch Katherine! All of this, of course eventually results in a great "feel good" ending which causes me to cheer for Tess's triumph!
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Melanie Griffith wins you over
jxm46876 May 2003
The three stars, plus solid direction from Mike Nichols and a terrific supporting cast, put this one over. Harrison Ford is endearingly goofy and Sigourney Weaver is a classic bitch-on-wheels. In the title role, Melanie Griffith wins you over with a charming (if a bit uneven) performance. The script is serviceable but could use more snap and wit. Sights and scenes of the World Trade Center add retrospective poignancy. An engaging--if not completely top drawer--romantic comedy.
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