Working Girl (1988)

Never burn bridges. Today’s junior prick, tomorrow’s senior partner!

— Katharine Parker

I have meant to watch Mike Nichol’s film, Working Girl, for a while now. It took a great list from Heather from Movie Mobsters putting out the Top Ten Sigourney Weaver Roles/Performances to get me to see it. The term “working girl” felt very stuck in the 80s. I thought the movie would feel a little dated from women to connect to in the new millennium. It does, but there is a sweet story at the heart of it.

This Cinderella story in a yuppie setting starts with the a frustrated temp named Tess McGill (Melanie Griffith) quits her last job when one of the bosses, Bob Speck (Kevin Spacey) made sexual advances toward her in the backseat of limo. One of the workers at the temp agency (Olympia Dukakis) warns her it was her last chance, because she quit two previous jobs before that.

Tess goes to work for a prestigious brokerage firm where she the tutelage of Mergers and Acquisitions director, Katharine Parker (Weaver). Katharine wants to show Tess the ropes of how to make in the cutthroat business world. Tess feels that Katharine is trying to help her make the transition from the minor league to the big leagues. Tess re-evaluating her life, what she has accomplished and what still need to be achieved. She has a tumultuous relationship with her live-in, Mick (Alec Baldwin) who she caught cheating on her with a mutual friend.

One day, Tess confides in Katharine about an idea of a powerful company, Trask Industries want to acquire a television station, but she had an idea of having Trask (Philip Bosco) to buy a radio station. It would be a smoother acquisition without having to deal with the legalities of a foreign company buy a television. Katharine takes it under advisement. Later, she tells Tess that the committee did not like her idea.

Katharine goes on a skiing trip in Europe where she has a freak accident on the slopes, breaking her leg. She wants Tess to take care of her place while she spends weeks recuperating. While Tess was at Katharine’s loft, she stumbles on evidence suggesting that Katharine took her idea to radio expert, Jack Trainer (Harrison Ford). Feeling betrayed by Katharine, Tess is on a mission to get her credit for her idea by assuming Katharine’s identity for a short while.

This movie was nominated for six Academy Awards including Best Picture, Director, Actress for Griffith and Supporting Actress for Cusack and Weave and it won for Carey Simon’s original song, “Let the River Run” that plays during the opening credits of this movie. I would just like to know, why Cusack was nominated for this movie? She was a secondary character, Tess’s best friend in the periphery. She had no gravitas like Ms. Weaver did in the movie. She was so cold and calculating, but she wasn’t a monster. It was subdued evil witch of a boss.

The beginning of this film was very slow to build up, but it was satisfying when the climax happened. I was very distracted by the blown out, heavily hairsprayed bouffant hairdos the women. At least it was tone down near the middle. I loved the chemistry between Griffith and Ford. The story was good in parts, but it has this strange dynamics. You basically have to act like a cold-hearted, backstabbing bitch to make it in business. Great lessons for young professional women to live on.

Judgment: The subject may be dated, but an enjoyable in the end.

Rating: ****

About Branden

Branden: I am just your average movie nut that reviews films. Gives his take on pop culture and Hollywood happenings. Dreams to have his own thriving website and make a living doing what he is passionate about.

Posted on June 12, 2010, in 1988, Academy Award Winner, Comedy, Drama, Romantic and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.

  1. My mom watched this movie all the time when it was just me & her at home. I had a huge crush on Weaver, and I never knew why, but now I kind of do. I dont even know.

  2. Absolutely love this movie. One of the best films of the 1980s and a great capture of high society during a decade of class and gender divides.

  3. I really enjoyed this film “i have a head for business and a body for sin” is a line that could only work in a movie! Don’t try this at home, kids.

  4. I’m glad you appreciated what it was. There are certainly levels of irrelevance in society today, but at the time it really was symbolic of a lot of changes with film. I mean “Mr. Mom” was prevalent at the time, where is was strange for a dad to stay home while mom was at work. Still a funny movie today even though totally not relevant or progressive by any means. Working Girl had that humor but also a strength to show the difficulties of being a woman trying to “make it happen”, and just as men the women resorted to a dog eat dog mentality, if so even more aggressive and manipulative. But that’s life. Weaver was the centerpiece of the films performances for me. Cusack as you said was good but Oscar Worthy I’m unsure. Even Alec Baldwins small role was just as memorable as hers.

    I remember watching it for the first time in a years a few years back and almost shit myself when I saw Kevin Spacey in the car. Lots of star cameos throughout the flick.

    • I’m glad you turned me onto this, Heather. I’m glad you brought u Mr. Mom. I loved that movie, but it doesn’t have the same shock value of a stay at home dad than now. I still enjoy the hell out of it. It surprised to see Spacey, Oliver Platt or Olympia Dukakis.

  5. A Ford movie I actually enjoy. Which is becoming less and less frequent.

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