#SXSW: “STILL WORKING 9 TO 5”
By Mr. Will Wong
It is hard to imagine a time where there was any doubt that 9 to 5 would’ve connected with audiences. The 1980 Colin Higgins Comedy starring Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin and Dolly Parton would go on to gross $103 million at the Box Office (second only to Star Wars that year), a TV Series, over 1,500 stage productions worldwide, a theme song which won Grammys and of course, sparking the conversation about equity in the workplace for women.
Co-Directors Camille Hardman and Gary Lane explore the lasting legacy behind the Film as we learn how its three leads were actually cast before the Script had even been written, to Tomlin leaving the project multiple times and the risks of releasing the Film around Christmas against other heavyweights. The gamble paid off as the Film struck a chord with audiences, breaking ground and empowering women around the world to have agency in their workplaces.
The Documentary on one level gives us insight into the development of the Film, using archived and current interviews with Co-Writer Patricia Resnick, Higgins, Fonda, Tomlin, Parton and of course Dabney Coleman, who played the Film’s misogynistic boss Frank Hart. A perfect storm of elements came together to win audiences over, with a tone that made an impactful statement while audiences at the same time had fun watching it.
On another level, we see the Film’s role in the fight for Women’s Equality. We see various steps forward and backward in the cause, tracing back to the Equal Rights Amendment with efforts made to ratify it in the early ’70s well before the Film existed, to 2020 as the Pandemic hit and Virginia signing-on as the final state needed to ratify the amendment. We learn about the 9to5 movement which inspired the Film, after a group of secretaries came together to draw focus on Pay Equity and family flexibility in the ’70s.
In a post-#MeToo world, re-visiting the themes and message behind 9 to 5 couldn’t have happened in a timely manner. Ironically, did you know Harvey Weinstein hadinvested in and produced the Broadway production of 9 to 5? Tons of interesting tidbits and interviews with those who are a part of the fight for equality and the Franchise’s legacy, including the likes of Allison Janney, Rita Moreno, Megan Hilty and more.
STILL WORKING 9 TO 5 is a comprehensive look at the lasting impact that this unsuspecting film would go on to have on the world. Having seen it when I was very young, I viewed it as entertainment. I now see it through a new lens. You’ll also want to sit through the credits for a new rendition of the titular hit featuring Kelly Clarkson!
STILL WORKING 9 TO 5 screens at SXSW ’22 as follows:
Sunday, March 13th, Screening @ 3:45pm CT, SXSW Film Theater
Monday, March 14th, On-line Screening @ 9:00am CT
Monday, March 14th, Satellite Screening @ 6:00pm CT, AFS Cinema
Friday, March 18th Screening @ 4:45pm CT, Stateside Theatre