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9 to 5
9 to 5 is a comedy about a workplace run by a "sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical, bigot" boss who rules over his employees with unfair sexism at every possible turn. The film was a massive box-office hit when it was released in 1980. Starring Lilly Tomlin, Jane Fonda, and Dolly Parton (in her debut film role), 9 to 5 is a surprisingly important film which remains a beloved satire and social commentary. It was produced by Bruce Gilbert (On Golden Pond, Coming Home).
Franklin M. Hart Jr. (Dabney Coleman) is a boss from hell. He likes to tell everyone in office that he's having an affair with Doralee Rhodes (Dolly Parton), a married secretary in the office, whom he continually makes unwanted advances on. He doesn't consider Violet Newstead (Lily Tomlin) for a promotion, despite her being one of the leaders in the office for 16 years, because "she's a woman" and men in business won't like that. He acts unkind to his employees and even threatens to fire Judy Bernly (Jane Fonda) over a tiny workplace mishap with the copy machine.
After a rough day at work, Judy, Violet, and Doralee get together for a night of fun. The group begin to discuss their boss and fantasize about the various ways in which they might "do him in" and the results are satirical comedy hijinks: from an animated sequence where Violet dresses up as Snow White and dances with animated animals, to Judy going up against him as a cowboy, and more. The group turns from their terrible situation at work to having a night of friendship.
The fun of their hypothetical conversations ends abruptly and trouble ensues when Violet accidentally gives her boss rat poison from a box that looks almost identical to sweetener (it's packaging being essentially the same: minus the crossbones). Believing that their boss has been poisoned (when he actually just fell out of his chair), Violet, Judy, and Doralee go to the hospital to check on him. Things spiral dramatically out of control (and into elaborate comedy sequences) when they mistakenly believe him to be dead.
In addition to the wonderful Dolly Parton song to the film, "9 to 5" (which became a huge hit), the film also has a music score by Charles Fox (Barbarella, Foul Play). The music certainly contributes to the film's comedic style and helps to propel the comedic moments further. The cinematography by Reynaldo Villalobos (Risky Business, A Bronx Tale) impresses with accurate and effective use of colors. The style fits the tone of the filmmaking and setting. The costumes designed by Ann Roth (Signs, The English Patient, Closer) are commendable and contribute a great deal to the film's artistic success.
Based on the story by Patricia Resnick, the screenplay was written by Colin Higgins (Harold and Maude) and Patricia Resnick (Straight Talk, Quintet). The script is important for discussing the issue of sexism in the workplace. It is also significant for helping to push the discussion of workplace topics like daycare programs, shared job hours, flexible schedules, and more.
Directed by Colin Higgins, the film is in part a success due to the great casting and direction of the core cast. The performances by the leads are impressive. The cast of 9 to 5 certainly had excellent chemistry together. It was a huge part of the reason for the film being a box-office smash. The film's also interesting for having several fantasy sequences that are interestingly directed throughout the film. Higgins's direction certainly contributed to the film's success.
9 to 5 was ahead of its time. Despite rampant sexism existing in the workplace, 9 to 5 was one of the first films to ever address the issue. The production of the film was important for bringing the issue to the forefront and it did so with intelligence and grace through social satire. The result is a film that is more socially relevant and important for it. 9 to 5 is a strong statement film and an important work of feminist cinema.
Twilight Time has presented 9 to 5 in the original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 widescreen. The 1080p high-definition MPEG-4 AVC encoded presentation is a strong representation of the filmmaking with a healthy 30mbps bit-rate. The film has never looked better before on home media. The release is crisp, clean, and vibrant while maintaining the naturally filmic look with fine grain detail left intact. This is a stunning presentation of the film and is amongst the best looking catalog titles of the year.
Please Note: This release is Region Free.
9 to 5 is presented on Blu-ray with a lossless high-definition 24 bit 2.0 stereo audio presentation and mono 1.0 audio presentation. The stereo presentation adds nice depth and clarity to the film's presentation. Music clarity is excellent. Dialogue is easy to understand and follow. The film's fidelity is quite strong. This is a surprisingly effective presentation which is almost a match for the film's superb PQ presentation.
The release includes a booklet featuring an essay written by Twilight Time's Julie Kirgo.
On disc supplements include:
Audio Commentary with producer Bruce Gilbert and actresses Jane Fonda, Lilly Tomlin, and Dolly Parton
Audio Commentary with screenwriter Patricia Resnick and film historians Julie Kirgo and Nick Redman
Isolated Score Track (presented in lossless 2.0 stereo audio)
Deleted Scenes (23 min.)
9 to 5 at 25: Revisiting a Comedy Classic (25 min.) is a making-of featurette with interviews with cast and crew about their experiences working on the film.
Remembering Colin Higgins (5 min.) is a tribute to the late filmmaker.
Singing 9 to 5 Karaoke (3 min.) features on-screen lyrics to the film's title song by Dolly Parton. It's a Karaoke version without vocals for those who want to sing along to the music-only track.
Dolly Parton and Lilly Tomlin Interviews (21 min.)
Animation Reel (6 min.) including original live action footage, pencil tests, and animation tests of all the stages of work done to create the animated sequence in the film.
Gag Reel (12 min.)
Original Theatrical Trailer
9 to 5 still stands as a relevant comedy about sexism in the workplace. The film features strong performances by Dolly Parton, Lily Tomlin, and Jane Fonda.
The Twilight Time Blu-ray release features an excellent presentation of the film and a decent assortment of supplements.
Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema. He aspires to make movies and has written two screenplays on spec. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.