Working Girl, 9 to 5, & Other Office Movies

working-girl-9-to-5-moviesLadies — what are your favorite office movies, particularly for women? Which ambitious movie characters inspired you while growing up, and/or who has inspired you recently? Which movies would you want to discuss with other readers?  I’ve mentioned my favorite fashion movies before, and we’ve had a few discussion threads about specific books, but as fall weather sets in, I thought it might be fun to start a discussion series of “working girl movies.” The idea for this partly came when I watched The Intern months after it came out and then spent two hours looking for an earlier Facebook post where I knew some entrepreneurs I know had discussed the movie — but it’s been bolstered by sadness/shock when I talk to younger women who haven’t seen Working Girl. GASP.

Now, I must insist we discuss Working Girl and 9 to 5 — not only are they fun, funny, and uplifting, but they’ve stood the test of time. Don’t take my word for it, though — here’s a post from 2015 on Yahoo about how Working Girl “really is the perfect movie,” and a New Republic article from 2015 on the “enduring relevance” of 9 to 5), just for two examples. So our first movie discussion will be of 9 to 5, scheduled for October 18. That said, I’m curious to hear your thoughts on which other movies you’d like to discuss with Corporette readers. I think there are a few ways we could do this:

  • Try to find a movie from every decade to watch that represents women in the workplace, for example:
    • 1940 – His Girl Friday (another one of my favorites, but I feel like there may be a better option — I’m open to suggestions)
    • 1950s – ? (I feel like we can do better than Monkey Business but sadly that’s what’s coming to mind…)
    • 1960 – The Apartment (haven’t seen but I found it on a list of “top office comedies” — I’m open to suggestions)
    • 1970s – ?
    • 1980 – 9 to 5 (we’ll discuss on October 18)
    • 1989 – Working Girl
    • Late 90s/Early Aughts – ? (Devil Wears Prada was 2006 but could work… How do we feel about Legally Blonde (2001) as part of this discussion? Too much school, not enough office?)
    • 2009 – Up in the Air (haven’t seen yet, but found on the same list)
    • 2015 – The Intern (this may be too entrepreneurial-focused — thoughts?).
  • Chuck the “decades” idea out the window and just watch and discuss a few good office-oriented movies — for example, Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead has some amazing “dressing for work” scenes and some amusing “lady in the workplace” things to discuss (We’re right on top of it, Rose!) — but it’s from 1991, so it’s very close in time to Working Girl. I’d also love to add Office Space to this list, but the only women in the movie are Aniston’s waitress character and Nina (“Corporate accounts payable, Nina speaking!”).
  • Take a heavier load and add documentaries or dramas to the list. This is totally not my bailiwick, but I’m totally open to suggestions. Norma Rae? Historical dramas like Elizabeth?
  • Add TV series to the list and watch a few key episodes. Murphy Brown? Mad Men? Mary Tyler Moore? The problem here is that a movie is much more contained with character development and everything else.
  • Just focus on the “inspiring hard-working women characters” theme instead and add movies like Clueless to the list (or, hey, Hunger Games).
  • Add books to the list. (But hey, who likes reading, amiright?) (kidding)

All right, ladies, what say you? What movies would you like to discuss? For the moment, let’s start the discussion on October 18 with 9 to 5 — you can borrow it from your local library or rent/buy it from iTunes or Amazon. (Oooh, and Working Girl is available on Netflix, for those of you who want to get ahead in your assignments.) Here’s the blurb from Rotten Tomatoes, where it has an 83% fresh rating: “Three female office workers become friends and get revenge against their boss, a sexist egotistical lying hypocritical bigot, and in so doing create a more efficient and pleasant work environment.”


The Lessons Working Women Can Learn from '9 to 5' - Decades Later


  1. TV shows – some interesting ones of late
    – Good Wife
    – Veep
    – Scandal
    – Mindy Project

    – Mr. Mom (loved it as a kid, not sure it’s held up very well)
    – Network

    • Veep is the best show ever. Whatever JLD has done to look better than she did on Seinfeld, sign me up and send it monthly.

      • No kidding. She’s 55. Whaaaaa?

        • She and Sandra Bullock are aging in reverse. They both look insanely amazing in their 50s. And I love Veep! Best show on TV.

  2. Baby Boom is another FANTASTIC 80’s work movie. So great.

    Devil Wears Prada should surely be on this list.

    • Anon Midwest :

      Baby Boom ! Yes, i still super enjoy that movie.

    • Bensonrabble :

      +1 to baby boom

    • Another +1 to baby boom. I actually attribute a good deal of my educational and professional ambition to J.C. Wiatt. I watched it countless times in elementary school. I’m happy that my young self thought the discussion of her romantic life at the end was stupid and forced and wouldn’t have happened in real life. Really glad other people like this movie too.

  3. Wanderlust :

    Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead! I’ll get right on top of that, Rose!

  4. Mad Men

    Better off Ted

  5. Office Space

  6. PhilanthropyGirl :

    I’ll always vote for His Girl Friday.

    And didn’t Katherine Hepburn do some great things too? Adam’s Rib, maybe?

    • Anon Midwest :

      Always and forever His Girl Friday and Adam’s Rib is a good one. A lawyer couple facing off.

      • Babyweight :

        I was going to post about Adam’s Rib! Married lawyer couple. Great stuff.

        • Anonymous :

          +1 Adam’s Rib. Great movie!

          Adding Desk Set: Katherine Hepburn is a reference librarian who has to learn how to use a room-sized computer.

          • Hepburn is the queen of movies about professional women. A journalist in Woman of the Year (1942), a trial attorney in Adam’s Rib (1947), a professional athlete in Pat and Mike (1952). I adore all those movies and Desk Set (1957), too! The best part about Desk Set is that Hepburn’s character is single, professional, middle-aged, brilliant at her job, and has a sex life, and that’s all treated as normal.

  7. Desk Set! Fabulous Katherine Hepburn + Spencer Tracy movie about moving computers into offices and lots of fun Hepburn-Tracy interactions.

    I think it came out in the 1950s.

    • Love Desk Set! First time I watched is was with my grandparents who loved Katherine Hepburn/ spencer Tracy movies. Must have been late 80’s or early 90’s. Makes me think of them.

      • I came to say Desk Set is the perfect 1950s workplace movie. LOVE IT. It’s even sort of topical today-automation, job losses to machines, etc.

        • I kind of love the raucous holiday party and how they tell the messenger boy to tell the other departments he got $20 as a holiday gift from them so the other departments will feel guilty and pony up.

  8. Broadcast News, 1987. Ant

    • Anon Midwest :

      That is literally a fair to midling remake of His Girl Friday. While I love Kathleen Turner, we can do better.

      • You’re thinking of Switching Channels. Which is charming b/c Burt Reynolds and Turner are charming, but absolutely a remake.

  9. Senior Attorney :

    This isn’t a movie, but back in the late 80s I used to love the TV series thirtysomething (lowecase t and all). The leading characters were two guys with SAH wives, and they were in advertising instead of law, but they did some episodes about work fear that had me just cringing in my boots with recognition. Not so much inspiring as cathartic, I guess.

    • Senior Attorney :

      Alas, I re-watched a few episodes a couple of years ago and it doesn’t hold up at all…

  10. Anonymous :

    I would echo the comment about Baby Boom being a very good movie. I only heard about this movie very recently and just watched it. The issues Diane Keaton’s character faced seemed to be so thoughtfully crafted, and I loved the way she solved her problems. It was very smart. After becoming a mom suddenly, she had an “hours” problem. Her discrimination was because of the hours being a mother demanded of her not because she was a woman. She solved her problems by doing things on her own terms in her own way.

  11. I would echo the comment about Baby Boom being a very good movie. I only heard about this movie very recently and just watched it. The issues Diane Keaton’s character faced seemed to be so thoughtfully crafted, and I loved the way she solved her problems. It was very smart. After becoming a mom suddenly, she had an “hours” problem. Her discrimination was because of the hours being a mother demanded of her not because she was a woman. She solved her problems by doing things on her own terms in her own way.

  12. Mary Claire :

    Erin Brokovich, 2000
    I Don’t Know How She Does It, 2011

    For small business owners: You’ve Got Mail, 1998

  13. Coach Laura :

    Love Legally Blonde even though it’s not real life. Love everything Reece.

    Really miss The Good Wife. I like Madam Secretary and I’ll have to check out Veep.

    • Just started watching “Hot Pursuit” last night. That may challenge your Reece love a bit. (I kind of remember liking “This is War” in underrated recentish movies.)

  14. Anonshmanon :

    I re-watched the First Wives Cluub just yesterday and though not centered on office life, has a vibe of women making their way in the professional world. And is funny and has great characters. Also LOVE legally blonde, I might just watch that right now.

    Kat, did you change something about the website? After Tuesday’s Workwear Report, none of your posts has shown up in my rss reader. I use feedly.

    • I’m using feedly and the posts are showing up… maybe it’s a setting in your feedly?

      • We were having problems with the RSS feed but Laura (our tech guru) fixed ’em earlier today. Thank you for your patience!

  15. Katharine fan :

    Also support Desk Set and Woman of the Year (another Hepburn-Tracy masterpiece)!

    • Anonymous4 :

      Thanks! I knew there were other Hepburn/Tracy films I was forgetting.

      Woman of the Year is wonderful.

    • Cosign. No such thing as too much Hepburn/Tracy!

  16. Sunflower :

    For your 1950s movie slot: The Best of Everything. 1959. Wonderful cast and a plot so representative of its time.

    • anon anon armani :

      Just a caveat … The Apartment is not a comedy in any way. It’s a very very sad tale of Jack Lemmon’s character caught between his morals and his boss’ needs/demands. In addition, it’s another gritty movie where Shirley McLean kept taking roles of “women of the evening,” complete with falling in love and … well, the rest would be a spoiler alert.

      Not a comedy.

  17. Mountain Girl :

    Clarice Starling – Silence of the Lambs – early 90’s

    I think I remember reading that Jodie Foster’s portrayal of Starling actually boosted FBI recruitment of women for several years. The AFI rates this performance as the #6 on greatest protagonist in film history.

  18. Even though not about lawyers, Anna Kendrick’s character in Up in the Air is every first year associate ever (down to what I am positive is the same J. Crew suit I did OCI in). That movie. SO GOOD.

  19. Anonymous :

    House of Lies had some great female characters! I didn’t always love how they were portrayed, but to be fair, the men were not always shown in the best light either.

    There is a great episode where a new associate is so fed up with the insanity, she stabs the partner in the thigh with a letter opener. I watched this episode on the plane and inappropriately laughed out loud when this happened.

  20. For the 60s, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying

  21. My favorite female characters:
    CJ Cregg, Dr. Abbey Bartlet, and Commander Kate Harper from The West Wing
    Sloan Sabbith, MacKenzie McHale, and Maggie Jordan from The Newsroom
    Alicia Florrick, Diane Lockhart, and Kalinda Sharma from The Good Wife
    Hermione Granger and Professor McGonagle from the Harry Potter series
    Tess McGill from Working Girl
    The Game of Thrones cast
    Drs. Christina Yang, Miranda Bailey, and Addison Montgomery from Grey’s Anatomy

  22. Love all these suggestions! So far it sounds like His Girl Friday, Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead, Office Space, Up in the Air, and a Katharine Hepburn movie is going to make the short list for now — I haven’t seen How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying in a long time but would definitely consider it. I loved Mr. Mom too. (Re Baby Boom, that was coming to mind a lot too but I couldn’t remember how early in the movie she quits her job and it becomes less “office comedy” and more “hijinks with baby and applesauce”.

    (Is it sad that we can all only brainstorm a few good movies that make the cut? Would men have more? Hmmn. Another discussion series to have in another year: “ambitious men” movies to compare/contrast to women’s working experiences. Paper Chase? All the President’s Men? The Firm?)

  23. I LOVED The Internet. It’s always a nice surprise when a film I’ve been looking forward to seeing actually turns out to be good. Seconding The Devil Wears Prada, too.

  24. For those who like old movies, may I suggest The Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer, staring Cary Grant, Myrna Loy and Shirley Temple and involving a -gasp- female judge in 1947. It’s cute. Also Of Arsenic & Old Lace. No strong female leads unless you count the most charming and adorable old lady murderers but still very fun.

    Also love Working Girl. For the 70s, I’d suggest Network. Still so good. Not an office movie, but Clerks is so, so true for every retail job I’ve ever had.

  25. A lesser known 90s film about finding a work passion is Party Girl with Parker Posey.

  26. Clockwatchers – It’s a dark little film about 4 women temping in an office. Lisa Kudrow, Toni Colette, and Parker Posey are in it

  27. This may be an odd choice but… Detective Benson in Law and Order: SVU has always been my role model.

    • Totally agree. What about “Out of Sight”? The closest female character I have ever seen on-screen to myself. The relationship with her Dad too. Plus her clothes in that movie! I straight up bought a tangerine tank top because of that scene where she takes down the guy in the black skirt suit.

      • Agree re Out of Sight. Her line in the hotel bar – “Really, Andy, who gives a shit” is one of my favorite of all time. I say it in my head every time I’m stuck listening to a blowhard. I haven’t seen the TV version, Karen Sisco, but it is supposed to be excellent.

        • Lol! When someone steps out of line with me I tell myself “You wanted to tussle, we tussled” in my head!

  28. In-House in Houston :

    What about House of Cards on Netflix? It’s about DC politics and the way Claire (Robin Wright) dresses is to die for!!

  29. West wing had some good female characters. What about x-files? Scully set the tone for my relationship with suits.

  30. I lust after almost all the clothes on Suits. Gina Torres can wear anything and look in control and gorgeous. Sarah Rafferty’s dresses are amazing too.

  31. Don’t forget Designing Women!

  32. I love Halt and Catch Fire on AMC. Two brilliant women battling for a spot in the male-dominated Personal Computer and Gaming industry in the ’80’s.

  33. How about The Secret of My Success (1987) starring Michael J . Fox and Helen Slater? Also, the Apartment is not a comedy, but it is a fantastic movie and should be discussed.