The movie I chose for my review is Working Girl from 1988. I saw this movie many years ago and recently borrowed it to watch for this assignment. This movie stars some household names in Melanie Griffith, Harrison Ford, Sigourney Weaver and Alec Baldwin. The movie is set in New York City’s Financial District where Tess McGill is a secretary by trade is trying to better herself and grade her current situation, which many times turns against her. She has what it takes to be successful, but her presentation doesn’t allow anyone to take her seriously. After she is moved to a new position as a secretary to Katherine Parker (aka “Kath”), Tess has to adjust to working for a woman for the first time. Everything starts off well and Tess is offered a mentorship in the process.
After becoming more familiar with the business, Tess comes up with a great idea for one of their clients and shares it with Kath. This is the basis of how the differences and challenges between Tess and Kath begin, along with the Kath’s love interest, Jack Trainer comes in the picture and is pursued by Tess both personally and professionally as an ally as she’s leading a double life between her real job and the job is pretending to have in the eyes of Trainer. All in all, Tess is able to beat her scheming boss and get the guy in the end, but do it in a way that you have to applaud her courage, determination and spirit in a male dominated and woman cheat woman environment.
For that decade, the film is true to the staunch-corporate, big company atmosphere with the 3 piece suits and structure where secretaries are just that. Taking calls, fetching coffee and basically handling the boss’s personal lives as well. Katherine’s character portrays a dominant business woman that uses a “in your face attitude” to get ahead. This may have been more the norm for woman in the corporate world 20 years ago, but I don’t feel is case today. I have had many women bosses and never experienced a personality like hers. I thought it was interesting when Tess first started her job and her and Katherine were discussing their recent birthdays and ages. Katherine revealed she’s a bit younger than Tess, and Tess commented that she has never worked for a woman, or someone that is younger than she is. This would be a comment that would be less common to be said today.
With the characters, plot and premise of the movie, I would consider this to be more of a feminist film. There is much to be said by Tess’ character and will to make it in the tough environments of big business and what she was willing to do (in a positive way) to get there. It would be inspiring to any woman that watched this film to see themselves in some shape or form in her shoes, relating to her is one way or another. As we know, being a feminist doesn’t guarantee that other women follow your lead or even respect what you’re trying to do.
Overall, I was able to appreciate the film much more this time around. I’m older now with 10 years of corporate business experience with a better sense of how society works and an appreciation for the feminist movement. Overall, you get a good feeling from this movie and can appreciate each character and what they represent in the movie. I wouldn’t say this film is timeless by any stretch, but the message and feeling that you get from can represent women of the past and the future that can relate to Tess McGill.