Certain aspects of Working Girl have not aged well, but the film remains a quality production that showcases Melanie Griffith in her best role, with Harrison Ford and Sigourney Weaver as superb, lightly humorous supporting characters.
Tess McGill (Griffith) is a secretary struggling to rise in the New York business world. After a series of bad experiences with chauvinistic managers, she’s transferred to a new secretary role, this time under a female boss (Weaver). At first relieved to be working for someone who understands the female struggle, Tess is hurt when she learns that her new boss is a backstabbing cutthroat who only listens to her to steal ideas. When her boss is hospitalized after a vacation accident, Tess takes action – by taking control of her boss’ office, title and even her wardrobe. In her new guise, Tess gets right to work on brokering a deal with an investment banker, Jack Trainer (Ford), risking her career on one hail-Mary play.
It’s surprising how much has changed since the 80’s. Working Girl feels like a fantasy now simply because of the bizarre fashion style of the material girl decade. The hairstyles and the outfits feel so far removed from reality, it’s strange to think it was only 20 years ago that people actually walked around in public like that. Another aspect of the film that makes it difficult to relate to is the blatant sexism, either by dominant male bosses toward female underlings, or vice-versa. I know this sort of thing hasn’t disappeared, but for it to be accepted as normal as it is in Working Girl just feels archaic.
That aside, the film has a good story, and fine performances by Griffith (Crazy in Alabama), Ford (Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade) and Weaver (Aliens). Griffith may not have had much critical success in her career, especially of late, but Working Girl shows that she had some chops. In fact, Griffith won the Golden Globe for Best Actress for this part. Ford is a good counterpoint to her in a lighthearted way, and Weaver does an admirable job as a friendly, unethical snake. Other notable actors include Joan Cusack (Raising Helen), who received an Oscar nod for her role as Tess’ sassy best friend, and a young Alec Baldwin (Running With Scissors) as Tess’ sleazy boyfriend.
Technically, my main complaint with this film is its odd editing sense. The scene changes often feel abrupt, and it sometimes takes a minute or two to figure out how much time has passed, or what has changed for the characters. It’s not a huge deal, but it can disrupt the flow for viewers.
So the film remains strong after 20 years, but isn’t without its faults. How’s the DVD?
Working Girl (Awards Series) is presented on a single disc in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen format. This release is simply a repackaging of the 2001 DVD release, so don’t expect a fantastic video presentation. Overall the picture is soft, though consistently so, and while colours are accurate, there are sporadic film artifacts throughout. It’s not a terrible transfer by any definition, and in 2001 it might even have been solid, but standards have evolved.
Menus are static, with no score.
Audio options include Dolby Digital 3.0 and 2.0 in English. They both sound ok, with the 3.0 track filling out the front sound stage a little better. Dialogue is always clear, and the soundtrack is well defined, but there’s nothing in the way of ambient effects or any other special qualities. It should be said, though, that on this disc the film likely sounds as good as it ever has.
Audio is also available in French in Dolby Digital 2.0, while subtitles are offered in English and Spanish.
Working Girl (Awards Series) offers up little in the way of bonus material. All we get are some TV Spots and trailers for the film, along with more trailers for other Fox projects. Disappointing, to say the least.
Working Girl (Awards Series) is a quality blast from the past, and while the film is worth watching, this DVD presentation leaves much to be desired. Shame on Fox for repackaging an old release as if it were a special edition, when the bonus materials are so lackluster. If you find it for cheap, it may be worth buying.