Pursuing natural health & thinking beyond the superficial. Deconstructing Culture.

Nine to Five (1980)

Rating: 15


A lot of people feel stifled at work, it’s something that takes up a huge part of life other than sleeping so as a location it’s an alternative home/living environment along with the commute yet it can be so uncomfortable/frustrating. Other people can get through the mundane nature of it day in and day out but it doesn’t change they still spend most of their time there, do another activity before/afterward or go straight home, wile away a few hours, go to sleep and start the whole cycle again; they barely left the workplace before they’re back there again. Then there are things that really get to people like management trainee and fast track programs which leapfrog over all their time/effort and don’t include them because they’ve been there a while even if they have the necessary ‘qualifications’. Many feel as if they haven’t been rewarded for their efforts at some point, that someone has taken credit for their work, they’ve been ignored, they’re a number rather than a person, that they work longer and harder or make less mistakes for the same or less remuneration than they should get or in comparison to someone else or in contrast to living costs. Nine to Five is a classic example of Corporate vs the Worker, previously Man against the Machine or Worker against the Man (aka stickin’ to the Man). It shows how people can be seen or likened to automatons rather than living beings that will need a bit of leeway now and then as things happen in their lives. It show people being demeaned and belittled seen as ‘ten a penny’ or ‘a dime a dozen’ by default reinforced by draconian rules like not being allowed to talk about your salary, and sabotage, backstabbing and company spying as standard.

With all that said it’s all cleverly wrapped up in a witty comedy of office politics and budding, whirlwind friendship to overcome the odds starring Jane Fonda (Judy), Lily Tomlin (Violet) and Dolly Parton (Dora Lee).

A quote from Violet about fairytales sums it up “Gruesome and horrible and real gory… But kinda cute.”

Interesting note – the film spawned a 5 season tv series, a theatre production and talk of a sequel that Jane Fonda remarked could be called ’24/7′ for modern working standards.

Plot Summary

Judy is starting her first day of work after having been a housewife and recently divorced from her cheating husband, as a senior supervisor it’s upto Violet to show her round and help her out. Dora Lee is the boss’ secretary and as such, combined with her looks and lying/gossiping tongues is seen as a loose woman who sleeps with her boss and is shunned by most of the office. The three women to become united when three events inevitably bring them together; an employee being unfairly sacked, when Violet is passed up for promotion due to being a woman and whose family is seen as not as important because she’s a single mother, and Dora Lee finding out what people have been saying about her. This all leads to what can only be called an entanglement in pandemonium when they fantasize about how they would deal with the boss and some of their fantasies suddenly come to life! They find themselves having to deal with all kinds of things in ever mounting circumstances such as dead bodies and blackmail and it becomes a race against time to see if they can beat their boss and not end up in jail.

Quote from Judy’s fantasy about hunting the boss in which she’s a safari style hunter:

Boss: “Judy you’ve got to help me. That mob out there is crazy, they’re trying to kill me!”
Judy: “Now why would they want to do a nasty little thing like that?”
Boss: “I don’t know, I’m not such a bad guy!”
Judy: “You’re a sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot.”
Boss: “So I have a few faults, who doesn’t? Is that any reason to kill me?”
Judy: “You’re foul, Hart. A wart on the nose of humanity and I’m going to blast it off.”
*points her shotgun at him*
Boss: *stutters*
Judy: “Goodbye boss man. It’s quittin’ time.”
Boss: “Why me? I’m just an ordinary guy trying to do his job.”
Boss: “Holy S**t” – and runs away as she shoots.

Why it’s a Fave

Nine to Five is one of those films I watched when I was younger and didn’t realize why it was shown so late at night rather than a day/evening movie when it was portrayed in a light hearted/comic way. Then I watched it as an adult and realized it wasn’t light hearted at all though it did have both direct and veiled comedy; but that’s the nature of people. Where things like drinking alcohol, smoking, poisoning, abduction, fighting, overt sexualisation and murder are socially acceptable viewing for youngsters pot parties and getting stoned aren’t. However the version I’d originally watched had the drugs cut out so why was it still shown near midnight I wonder?

Even though the film is from a feminist angle which can be off-putting for a lot of people, many don’t seem to realize that anybody can be a feminist, you don’t have to be female to be a feminist just like you don’t have to be other than heterosexual to support LGBT rights and the film shows that the names/faces/groups may change but the issues are similar or the same e.g. a young Black male internal employee from the mail room is bypassed for a job in favour of an ‘outsider’. Then when the trio get more power in the office they make wide sweeping changes that benefit everybody from making the surroundings more pleasant/welcoming and less institution like to equal pay, job sharing, flexible hours, childcare, health care and a scene that intentionally shows a wheelchair user as an employee.

All in all this is another film that I can watch over and over and who doesn’t think it has a catchy theme tune!?

nine to five 1980 jane fonda dolly parton lily tomlin judy violet dora lee franklin hart

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