Director Mike Nichols’ 1988 film “Working Girl” is more than just a “cute” modern-day Cinderella-in-a-business-setting romantic comedy. Lead actress Melanie Griffith’s character not only has to prove that a secretary who’s putting herself through business school at night can compete with Harvard-graduated MBAs, but she also must overcome several acts of betrayal.
For instance, broker David Lutz (Oliver Platt) pretends to take Tess seriously but keeps her from getting into the firm’s entree program for new brokers. Instead, he offers her up as a “sex toy” for a sleazy colleague named Bob (Kevin Spacey, in an early film role). Tess’ “payback” scene is a gem to watch, but the little stunt gets her fired.
Her boyfriend Mick (Alec Baldwin) seems to be a loving and caring beau despite his penchant for giving Tess sexy lingerie for her birthday. But Mick’s true nature is revealed in a heartbreaking scene in which Tess arrives at their apartment after work and finds Mick in bed doing the “horizontal bop” with a brunette named Doreen. “This isn’t what it looks like!” Mick says…but it is.
The key betrayal in Working Girl,” though, comes from Katherine Parker (Sigourney Weaver), Tess’ new boss at the brokerage firm Petty Marsh. At first, Katherine takes Tess under her wing, winning her over with talks about teamwork, trust, and mutual respect. Yet beneath her “wannabe-mentor” facade there’s a dark and rapacious nature that would put T. Boone Pickens to shame, as well as an ego that would fill the Empire State Building. As Katherine tells Tess when the subject of a possible marriage proposal comes up:
Tess McGill: What if he doesn’t pop the question?
Katherine Parker: I really don’t think that’s a variable. We’re in the same city now, I’ve indicated that I’m receptive to an offer, I’ve cleared the month of June… and I am, after all, me.
Yet all seems to go well until Tess comes to Katherine with a shrewd business proposal; Trask Industries is seeking to expand into broadcasting and fend off a takeover bid by Japanese competitors. Although the obvious move for Oren Trask (Philip Bosco) would be to purchase a TV station, Tess believes that a radio station, or even an up-for-sale radio network would not only be cheaper for Trask, but it would also kill the takeover bid.
Katherine, who has an agenda of her own, promises Tess she’ll look into it, then later says that the idea is a no-go. Trask doesn’t want to purchase any radio assets; TV is the company’s real goal.
But when Katherine breaks her leg on a ski trip in Europe, Tess discovers that Katherine has contacted deal-making expert Jack Trainer (Harrison Ford) to sell the Trask/radio concept, not as Tess’ idea but her own. Furious and hurt, Tess decides to fight fire with fire and comes up with a risky but daring plan: using her business school savvy and Katherine’s office and wardrobe, the plucky New Yawk secretary transforms herself into a polished broker and hooks up with Trainer to make a deal between Oren Trask and the retiring patriarch-owner of the Metro Radio Network.
“Working Girl’s” conclusion is never in doubt because it has to follow the Hollywood romantic comedy formula. The fun, of course, is not the happy ending but the journey itself. Director Mike Nichols gets wonderful performances from his three leads. Harrison Ford, who proved in “Witness” that he could play a romantic lead in Peter Weir’s “Witness,” shows audiences that he can also do romantic comedy/drama, as well. Melanie Griffith is sassy, sexy, and irresistibly witty here, and Sigourney Weaver is delicious as the coldly malicious boss from hell.
“Working Girl” benefits from a good supporting cast that includes Oliver Platt, Kevin Spacey, Olympia Dukakis, Joan Cusack, and Nora Dunn. The film also boasts a witty and sparkling screenplay by Kevin Wade, who manages to strike a delicate balance between the comedic and dramatic elements – a rarity in the romantic comedy genre.
- Codec: MPEG-4 AVC (31.97 Mbps)
- Resolution: 1080p
- Aspect ratio: 1.85:1
- Original aspect ratio: 1.85:1
- English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz, 24-bit)
- English: Dolby Digital 2.0 (224 kbps)
- Spanish: Dolby Digital Mono
- French: DTS 5.1
- Spanish: DTS 2.0
- German: DTS 5.1
- Italian: DTS 2.0
- Japanese: DTS 2.0
- Czech: Dolby Digital 2.0
- Thai: Dolby Digital 2.0
- English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, German, Cantonese, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Greek, Icelandic, Italian, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Swedish, Thai
- 50GB Blu-ray Disc
- Single disc (1 BD)
- UV digital copy
- Digital copy
- Region free
- Rated: R (Restricted)
- Studio: 20th Century Fox
- Blu-ray Release Date: January 6, 2015
- Run Time: 114 minutes