Working Girl movie poster
|Directed by||Mike Nichols|
|Produced by||Douglas Wick|
|Written by||Kevin Wade|
|Starring||Melanie Griffith |
|Music by||Rob Mounsey|
|Editing by||Sam O'Steen|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Release dates||December 21, 1988|
|Running time||115 minutes|
|Box office||$102,953,112 (Worldwide)|
Working Girl is a 1988 romantic comedy film written by Kevin Wade and directed by Mike Nichols. It tells the inspiring story of a Staten Island-raised secretary, Tess McGill (Melanie Griffith), working in the mergers and acquisitions department of a Wall Street investment bank. When her boss, Katharine Parker (Sigourney Weaver), breaks her leg skiing, Tess uses Parker's absence and connections, including her errant beau Jack Trainer (Harrison Ford), to put forward her own idea for a merger deal.
The film features a notable opening sequence following Manhattan-bound commuters on the Staten Island Ferry accompanied by Carly Simon's song "Let the River Run", for which she received the Academy Award for Best Song. The film was a box office hit, grossing a worldwide total of $103 million.
Griffith was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress, while both Weaver and Joan Cusack were nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. The film itself was also nominated for Best Picture at the 61st Academy Awards.
Tess McGill (Melanie Griffith) is a working-class stockbroker's secretary from Staten Island with a bachelor's degree in Business from evening classes. She dreams of an executive position. Tricked by her boss (Oliver Platt) into a date with his lascivious colleague (Kevin Spacey), she gets into trouble by publicly insulting him and is reassigned as secretary to a new financial executive, Katharine Parker (Sigourney Weaver). Seemingly supportive, Katharine encourages Tess to share ideas. Tess suggests that a client, Trask Industries, should invest in radio to gain a foothold in media. Katharine listens to the idea and says she'll pass it through some people. Later, she says the idea wasn't well received. But when Katharine breaks her leg skiing in Europe, she asks Tess to house-sit and Tess discovers she plans to pass off the idea as her own. At home, Tess finds her boyfriend (Alec Baldwin) in bed with another woman. Disillusioned, she returns to Katharine's apartment and begins her transformation.
Tess sets up a meeting with executive Jack Trainer (Harrison Ford), using her boss's name as an entrée. She wants to see Trainer the evening before the meeting at a party which she will attend in a dress of Katharine's. Before the party her friend Cynthia (Joan Cusack) gives her a valium from Katharine's bathroom when Tess suffers a panic attack. At the party, Tess unknowingly meets Jack, who is fascinated by her. They have a couple of drinks and the combined effect of valium and alcohol lead to her waking next morning in Jack's bed. She leaves before he wakes and, entering the meeting, realizes Jack Trainer is the man she spent the night with. She feels the pitch goes badly. Back at her desk, she is mortified about the night before but Jack comes in and says they are happy with Tess's idea. Days later, Tess and Jack gatecrash Trask's (Philip Bosco) daughter’s (Barbara Garrick) wedding and pitch their plan. Trask is interested and a meeting is set up. Later Tess and Jack end up in bed together. Tess wants to explain her true situation but keeps quiet after learning Jack has been in a relationship with Katharine, which he says is all but over.
Katharine comes home on the day of the meeting with Trask. Tess overhears Katharine asking Jack to confirm his love for her, but he avoids answering and hurries out. Tess also rushes off, leaving her diary, which Katharine reads. The meeting goes well until Katharine storms in, accusing Tess, a mere secretary, of stealing her idea. Tess protests but leaves, apologizing. Days later, Tess is clearing out her desk when someone bumps into her, spilling all her notes and supplies on the floor. While picking them up in front of the elevator, Jack, Katharine, and Trask arrive. Tess confronts Katharine and starts to tell her side of the story. Katharine tries to lead the group away, but Jack says he believes Tess. When Trask hears a convincing tidbit, he hops off the closing elevator with Katharine and onto an elevator with Jack and Tess. They then convince Trask that the move into radio was Tess's idea, showing him materials. Trask confronts Katharine, asking her how she came up with the idea. She stumbles and is fired. Trask offers Tess an "entry-level" job with his company.
Tess starts her new job, armed with a lunchbox prepared by Jack. Directed to an office, she sees a woman on the phone, assumes she is her new boss and seats herself in the typing pool. The woman (Amy Aquino) reveals she is, in fact, Tess’s secretary. Tess insists they work together as colleagues, showing she will be very different than Katharine. She then calls Cynthia from her office overlooking Manhattan to say she's landed her dream job.
Tess's office building lobby scenes were shot in the lobby of 7 World Trade Center (one of the buildings destroyed in the September 11 attacks). The scenes of Tess's secretarial pool and Katharine Parker's office were filmed at One State Street Plaza at the corner of Whitehall and State Street. One Chase Manhattan Plaza was featured at the end as the Trask Industries building.
The film's music was written by award-winning composer and music producer Rob Mounsey. Additional music was written and performed by American pop singer-songwriter Carly Simon. A soundtrack album was released on August 29, 1989 by Arista Records.
- Track listing
- "Let the River Run" - Carly Simon
- "In Love" (Instrumental) - Carly Simon
- "The Man That Got Away" (Instrumental) - Rob Mounsey, George Young, Chip Jackson, Grady Tate
- "The Scar" (Instrumental) - Carly Simon
- "Let the River Run" - The St. Thomas Choir Of Men And Boys
- "Lady In Red" - Chris De Burgh
- "Carlotta's Heart" - Carly Simon
- "Looking Through Katherine's House" - Carly Simon
- "Poor Butterfly" (Instrumental) - Sonny Rollins
- "I'm So Excited" - Pointer Sisters
Working Girl was released on December 23, 1988 in 1,051 theaters and grossed USD $4.7 million on its opening weekend. It went on to make $63.8 million in North America and $39.2 million in the rest of the world for a worldwide total of $103 million.
The film received positive reviews from critics with an 84% rating at Rotten Tomatoes and a 73 metascore at Metacritic. Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert gave the film four out of four stars and wrote, "The plot of Working Girl is put together like clockwork. It carries you along while you're watching it, but reconstruct it later and you'll see the craftsmanship". In her review for the Washington Post, Rita Kempley described Melanie Griffith as "luminous as Marilyn Monroe, as adorable as one of Disney's singing mice. She clearly has the stuff of a megastar, and the movie glows from her". Janet Maslin, in her review for The New York Times, wrote, "Mike Nichols, who directed Working Girl, also displays an uncharacteristically blunt touch, and in its later stages the story remains lively but seldom has the perceptiveness or acuity of Mr. Nichols's best work". In his review for Time, Richard Corliss wrote, "Kevin Wade shows this in his smart screenplay, which is full of the atmospheric pressures that allow stars to collide. Director Mike Nichols knows this in his bones. He encourages Weaver to play (brilliantly) an airy shrew. He gives Ford a boyish buoyancy and Griffith the chance to be a grownup mesmerizer".
- 1989: Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy
- 1989: Golden Globe Award for Best Actress - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy (Melanie Griffith)
- 1989: Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress - Motion Picture (Sigourney Weaver)
- 1989: Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song - "Let the River Run" (Carly Simon) (tying with "Two Hearts" by Phil Collins and Lamont Dozier from Buster)
- 1989: Academy Award for Best Original Song - "Let the River Run" (Carly Simon)
- 1990: Grammy Award for Best Song Written for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media - "Let the River Run" (Carly Simon)
Academy Award nominations
- Best Actress in a Leading Role (Melanie Griffith)
- Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Joan Cusack)
- Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Sigourney Weaver)
- Best Director
- Best Picture
American Film Institute Lists
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Passions - #91
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Heroes and Villains:
- Tess McGill - Nominated Hero
- Katharine Parker - Nominated Villain
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs:
- Let the River Run - #91
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes:
- "I have a head for business and a body for sin." - Nominated
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Cheers - #87
- AFI's 10 Top 10 - Nominated Romantic Comedy
- "Working Girl Movie - The 80s Movies Rewind". Fast-rewind.com. 1988-12-21. Retrieved 2012-06-12.
- [dead link]
- "Working Girl". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2009-01-27.
- Ebert, Roger (December 21, 1988). "Working Girl". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2009-01-27.
- Kempley, Rita (December 21, 1988). "Working Girl". Washington Post. Retrieved 2009-01-27.
- Maslin, Janet (December 21, 1988). "The Dress-for-Success Story Of a Secretary From Staten Island". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-01-27.
- Corliss, Richard (December 19, 1988). "Two Out of Five Ain't Bad". Time. Retrieved 2009-01-27.
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- Working Girl at the Internet Movie Database
- Working Girl at the TCM Movie Database
- Working Girl at allmovie
- Working Girl at Rotten Tomatoes
- Working Girl at Metacritic
- Working Girl at Box Office Mojo