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Jane Fonda, Dolly Parton and Lily Tomlin tackle chauvinism and '80s office politics in the madcap musical revenge comedy that made Parton a breakout star.
9 to 5 retains a barbed relevance beneath its... hairstyles, not to mention one of cinema's most badass trios.
Three office workers – recently separated Judy Bernly (Jane Fonda), widowed mother-of-four Violet Newstead (Lily Tomlin) and put-upon secretary Doralee Rhodes (Dolly Parton) – turn the tables on their egotistical, sexist, gaslighting VP Frank Hart (Dabney Coleman) when he passes Violet over for a promotion she has fairly earned (and deserves) and when he spreads an untrue rumour that he and the married Doralee are having an affair.
Based on an idea by Jane Fonda (Fox co-produced the film with Fonda’s production company, IPC Films) and drawing inspiration from classic screwball films of the 1940s and 50s with headlining, star female casts, 9 to 5 borrows its title from the name of a grassroots organisation of women advocating for workplace and wage equity, the 9to5 National Association of Working Women, which formed a key part of Jane Fonda’s research. Fonda also spearheaded the casting of Lily Tomlin and Dolly Parton. Parton expressed reservations that the role might alienate some of her country music fan base but overcame those concerns to cannily secure a deal to write and record the film’s theme song, ‘9 to 5’. The song became a number one hit and Parton won two Grammy Awards, as well as earn rave reviews for her first on-screen role.
Director Colin Higgins co-wrote the screenplay with then 26-year-old Hollywood screenwriter Patricia Resnick whose main writing credit up to that point was as a co-screenwriter on Robert Altman’s A Wedding (1978). In a long career since the film’s release, Resnick went on to write the book for the 2009 Broadway musical adapted from the film and also worked as a consulting producer on landmark series, Mad Men (2007–15), which similarly kept sexist office practices – from an earlier era – in its dramatic sights.
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