9 to 5 (1980)
Directed by Colin Higgins
Staring: Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin & Dolly Parton
As a historical satire, "9 to 5" is in a line of business all by itself.
A MOVIE FOR ITS TIME
With the failure to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) by three
states, many women were angry that they could not achieve equal
recognition under the Constitution. "9 to 5" captures in social satire
the anger of women regarding disparate treatment at the time of the
ERA's impending collapse.
The film begins with the sexual harassment of Doralee (Dolly Parton), Franklin Hart's (Dabney Coleman)
theft of credit for Violet's (Lily Tomlin) office filing system, and
Hart's passing of Violet for promotion. These incidents illustrate the
profound inequality in the male managed workforce of the 1970s and
1980s. To add insult to injury, women also faced the age old problem of
working husbands cheating on their housewives with their secretaries,
which was what happened to Jane Fonda's character, Judy, that forced her
into the workforce.
GREAT STORY & SCREENPLAY
The screenplay by Patricia Resnick and Collin Higgins crackles with wit
and slap-stick sight gags to drive home feminist anger at a male
Doralee, Violet and Judy finally become fed up with their chauvinist
boss, Hart, so they kidnap him and hold him in his own home, while his
wife is away on vacation. The women build a rigging system to detain
Hart, utilizing a garage door opener with a leather restraining harness.
The scenes with Hart in the harness become a quasi-bondage scene, where
the women were his dominatrix.
Other gags such as the coffee artificial sweetener being named "Sweet
& Slim" (a metaphor for what men expected of women) and the scene
where Hart is trapped at home watching soap operas like a housewife are
other examples of how each frame cuts into its subject matter.
One of the most satisfying portions of the film is the pot induced
fantasies involving revenge against Hart. The physical comedy during
these scenes are top notch, including Jane Fonda's character shooting at
Hart like in a carnival arcade game, Dolly Parton roping Hart like he
was cattle, and Lily Tomlin's masterful dark portrayal of "Snow White",
surrounded by animated forest animals, while she poisons Hart.
The male dominated world is turned upside down by the end of the film as
the women manage the office in Hart's absence. The three women's
progressive ideas, including daycare, job sharing, personalizing the
office, and implementing other progressive work programs increase
productivity 20% in just six weeks and earn the admiration of the
After watching "9 to 5" recently, it is undeniable that "9 to 5" is not
only a cinematic triumph, but it is an important historical document of a
time when sexism was openly practiced.
means "Go: this is a must-see movie".
Yellow light means "Caution: I
re- commend this film with reservations".
Red light means
"Stop: don't waste your time".
(c) 2011 Copyright Dennis W. Chiu. All rights reserved.