Movie Review: Nine to Five (1980) #atozchallenge



I’m participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge by watching and reviewing some of my favorite movies of all time that I haven’t watched in a long time. This post contains SPOILERS!

TitleNine to Five
Release Date: December 19, 1980
Director: Colin Higgins
Production Company: IPC Films

Judy Bernly (Jane Fonda) arrives for her first day of work at the office of the Consolidated Companies in Los Angeles.  Violet Newstead (Lily Tomlin), a twelve-year veteran of the company, shows her the ropes.  Their boss Franklin Hart, Jr. (Dabney Coleman) sexually harasses the women who works for him and takes credit for Violet’s ideas.  The women who work in the office don’t trust Hart’s personal secretary Doralee Rhodes (Dolly Parton) because Hart has falsely stated he’s having an affair with Doralee.

After a particularly bad day, Judy, Violet, and Doralee leave work early and meet at a bar where they bond over their shared indignities of working for Hart.  Later, at one of their homes they smoke a joint and fantasize about taking revenge on Hart.  In the ensuing days, all of their fantasies come true as Violet accidentally puts rat poison in Hart’s coffee.  In a comedy of errors, she believes that he has died (he never drank the coffee) and she steals a corpse from the hospital (it’s not Hart’s). Doralee is forced to tie up Hart and Judy fires a gun at him, just like in their fantasies.

The three women eventually keep Hart hostage in his home while his wife is away on a cruise.  They hope to find evidence of his embezzlement to use against him for the various crimes they’ve committed against him.  In the meantime, they take over running the office, using Hart’s authority to institute flex hours, a daycare center, and equal pay for men and women.  Hart escapes and is able to cover up his embezzlement, but as he tries to expose Judy, Violet, and Dorallee, company chairman Russell Tinsworthy (Sterling Hayden) arrives and compliments Hart for the productivity improvements and gives him a promotion to the Brazil division.

When Did I First See This Movie?:

This was one of the movies that was frequently played on cable television in the mid-1980s.

What Did I Remember?:

I remembered the fantasy sequences the best, the bondage gear that Dabney Coleman has to wear while he’s held captive, and the fact that all the changes the three women make actually improve the company.

What Did I Forget?:

I forgot that the Consolidated employees initially dislike Doralee.  A lot of the details about the workplace, such as Violet having much more experience than men promoted ahead of her, passed over me in my younger years.

What Makes This Movie Great?:

Women have always had to work for a living, but in 1980 when this movie was made, there was a big trend for middle-class women entering into white collar jobs.  This movie captures that era perfectly.  And yet many of the issues that the women at Consolidated face – unequal pay, being passed over for promotions, work/life balance issues, and sexual harassment from male superiors – all remain sadly relevant in 2020.  This movie also features performances from three extremely talented women of completely different backgrounds as well as Dabney Coleman playing the man we love to hate.

What Doesn’t Hold Up?:

It’s rather depressing that a 40-year-old movie about women’s inequality seems totally relevant.

Is It a Classic?:

Yes, a great comedy, and a great social message movie.

Rating: ****

Five more all-time favorite movies starting with N:

  1. The National Parks: America’s Best Idea (2009)
  2. The Natural (1984)
  3. Next Stop Wonderland(1998)
  4. El Norte (1983)
  5. North by Northwest (1959)

What is your favorite movie starting with N? What is your guess for my O movie (Hint: it stars two all-time great actors who had never me before filming)? Let me know in the comments!

8 thoughts on “Movie Review: Nine to Five (1980) #atozchallenge

  1. I’m not sure I’ve seen this since it was in the theaters. I was starting college so it felt like a lesson on the work place that I’d be entering in a few years. And, it pretty much was. Sigh.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. North by Northwest is a favorite among Hitchcock’s films. The Birds and Psycho are there as well.

    If we take a look around the world in politics, the places where women have gained power away from men are doing a lot of good in the world. I still wish it was Elizabeth Warren.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve got a couple of Hitchcock movies coming up in the A to Z, including one that you mentioned. Elizabeth Warren is my senator and I honestly think she’ll get more done in the Senate that will have lasting good than most men do in the Presidency.


  3. Ugh, yes: I second what you said about it being depressing that a 40-year-old movie on this subject should remain so relevant. They were talking about a remake of it until quite recently but I guess it never materialized. Perhaps it’s not needed, if the original still says it all.

    Liked by 1 person

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