Sunday, April 23, 2006
The film "Working Girl" was recommended to me as the woman's version of "Wall St." this surprised me because I thought the title suggested it would be closer to "Pretty Woman" but I gave it a shot.
The film is about Tess McGill (Melanie Griffith) a woman who works as a secretary in an office that looks almost identical to Bud Fox's. She has big ideas yet no one will listen because she is a secretary. One day two men in her office tell her they have arranged a business meeting for her to finally get her ideas heard. She goes to the meeting only to find out that she has been set up to "entertain" the client, and she leaves. After calling her boss a pimp, she is fired.
Tess then lands a job as a secretary for a powerful woman, Katherine Parker (Sigourney Weaver). Tess seems to have a harder time working for a woman initially, and then Katherine realizes that she has good ideas. Tess then explains an idea she has had about the Trask Co. buying a radio station instead of a T.V. station because that would protect them from international buy-outs. Katherine thinks its a great idea and says she will run it buy Jack Trainer (Harrison Ford.)
While on ski vacation Katherine breaks her leg and is forced to stay in the hospital out there, back in New York she has Tess house sit and take care of all her up-coming events. While at Katherine's apartment Tess notices a (what appears to be email but I'm not sure if there was such a thing in '88) memo to Trainer explaining the radio station idea, and passing it off as her own. Tess becomes furious and decides to take matters into her own hands. She sets up a meeting with Trainer.
Tess decides to attend this cocktail party she knows Trainer will be attending, and get an added edge before their meeting the following day, however she is so nervous that she will get caught and that she is wearing a $6000 dress of Katherine's that her friend Cyd (Joan Cusack) makes her take a vallium, and cut her hair. At the party she meets a man (who the audience knows is Trainer) who refuses to talk business with such a beautiful woman, and buys her shots of tequila. Needless to say the tequila and the vallium make quite a combination and she ends up passing out in a cab, Trainer tries to take her to her apartment but she isn't cooperating, so he takes her to his apartment. In the morning Tess wakes up and runs out before Jack is awake, in the next scene she is in the meeting and becomes extremely flustered when she realizes who Jack is.
Trainer likes the idea, even though his colleagues seem to think that she "over heard the idea some place." Trainer starts doing research on various radio stations to present to Trask while Tess tries to figure out a way to meet with him. She decides that her and Jack are going to crash Trask's daughters wedding and try to talk business with him there. The plan works and they get a meeting. Just as the plan is starting to work Katherine calls to say she will be home at the end of the week, and Tess is frantic because she needs more time. Katherine comes home and has a huge speech about how she is going to talk to Trainer about the radio idea but she has to make it seem like its her idea, because he doesn't listen to people he doesn't know. However if Tess had read the memo Katherine expected her to ask her about it, and she would tell the truth.
Through a series of confusing events we learn that Katherine and Jack were actually sleeping together before her accident, and now Tess and Jack seem to be involved in a relationship. Katherine finds Tess' date book and figures out what she has been doing while she was gone, she bursts into the meeting with Trask and sabotages. She outs her as a secretary and says that Tess has stolen her ideas. Trask and Trainer are appalled, and Tess is fired. While cleaning out her desk she runs into Trainer and Trask, and explains how she came up with the idea, Trask then confronts Katherine about how she came up with the brilliant idea, and she cant come up with an answer. It all comes full circle when Trask hires Tess not as a secretary but as a partner, with a corner office. Tess and Jack also end up together.
It is a great film, that I was surprised I hadn't heard a lot about before. Melanie Griffith does a great job, and this was on of the few films where I didn't find her slightly annoying. It has a better message than "Wall St." because Tess is not motivated by greed, she is simply trying to make her life better, she says "You can bend the rules plenty once you get to the top, but not while you're trying to get there. And if you're someone like me, you can't get there without bending the rules."
Also if you are or have ever been a fan of Carly Simon's song "Let the River Run" you will love this film, it is not only the theme song but it appears almost every time Tess is on screen in some form or another. It won an academy award for best original song, but it seems to be a bit of over kill. All the women in this film, Griffith, Weaver and Cusack were nominated for academy awards in 1989 as well.