This was Dolly’s film debut, back in 1980 and was a massive box office hit, catapulting Dolly to International fame. It was the second-highest grossing film released in 1980, making $103 millon, behind only The Empire Strikes Back. Dolly also wrote the title track, which hit number one on the Hot 100 chart and was nominated for an Oscar, for best song. The movie was not only a hit with women, but men and children as well. The film's subject matter obviously struck a cord with people from all walks of life, after all, who hasn't felt abused or taken advantage of by someone in a position of authority over them?
9 to 5 is a frequently hilarious comic revenge fantasy where most viewers can easily identify with three mistreated secretaries, and vicariously revel in their eventual retribution. We've all met the film's antagonist, Mr. Franklin Hart (Dabney Coleman in a masterful portrayal of comic villainy), in some form or another. You know the type: The self-important autocrat who makes life miserable for all those under him/her. Dolly’s character Doralee, sums up Hart perfectly when she calls him a "sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot."
Hart runs an entire floor in an office building, where he passes off much of his work to one of his long-suffering secretaries, Violet Newstead (Lily Tomlin), while constantly making unwanted passes at another, Doralee Rhodes. The movie opens with the hiring of another secretary, Jane Fonda effectively cast against type as the most timid of the bunch, the recently divorced Judy Bernly. Another instantly recognizable villain is the obsequious office snitch named Roz (Elizabeth Wilson). As sure as the sky is blue and water is wet, anything even slightly amiss seen or heard by Roz will be brought to Hart's attention within minutes.
Violet, Judy and Doralee's commiseration about Hart leads to them becoming fast friends. Then, through some well-constructed comic contrivances, they'll eventually kidnap their hated boss and hold him hostage for weeks in his own house while his unsuspecting airhead of a wife is out of town. And as luck would have it, Mr. Hart is so unpopular with so many people that perpetual suck-up Roz is the only one who notices his absence.
None of this is remotely believable, but 9 to 5 is exceedingly well written, directed and performed, and the laughs just keep on coming. This is one of those rare comedies where all the elements gel. But one key ingredient to the film's success is the decision to play it straight, so even when the plot departs from reality, the characters don't.
The movie was re-issued on DVD in 2006 with lots of special features, including a very entertaining feature-length audio commentary by Fonda, Tomlin, Parton and producer Bruce Gilbert, an in-depth feature with up-to-date interviews, 10 deleted scenes, a gag reel, a tribute to the film's late director, Colin Higgins, a gag reel and an instrumental version of Parton's smash-hit title song accompanied by clips of the film and song lyrics so fans can sing along Karaoke style.
Details: Runtime: 110 mins Release Date: 19th December 1980 Director: Colin Higgins
Writers: Patricia Resnick (story & screenplay)
Colin Higgins (screenplay)