Apr 272009
Authors: Marjorie Hamburger

People’s circumstances often dictate how far they may go in a given situation. Poverty, status and gender may be obstacles preventing individuals from living up to their true potential.

In a world full of discrimination, people often have a few set pathways to walk down. Although methods to overcome these barriers are limited, they exist.

Tess McGill’s (Melanie Griffith) unexpected rise to the top inspired a new level of upward mobility in the workforce.

Tess is the 30-year-old protagonist in Mike Nichol’s 1988 film “Working Girl.” She has just landed a new job as a secretary in high finance field. Her boss, Katherine Parker (Sigourney Weaver), is similar in age but far more professional. She wears high-quality business attire that suits her competitive personality.

Although highly intelligent with creative ideas, Tess finds herself as merely a secretary. When she finds evidence that Katherine intends to steal one of her innovations, she decides to take matters into her own hands. When Katherine takes a leave of absence due to a broken leg from skiing accident, Tess poses as her boss for a few weeks.

At the helm, Tess brings her original idea to investment broker Jack Trainer (Harrison Ford), the head honcho who can transform her plan into a reality. But first, Tess needs to look and act like a stock market professional — one who people can take seriously. She chops off her poofy ’80s hair, wipes off her colorful makeup, borrows expensive designer suits and alters her speech patterns.

Tess and Jack form a romantic bond while working together on Tess’s project. But questions of how long can she pose as her boss before she gets found out and whether Jack will love her despite being a secretary arise, captivating audiences right up to the suspenseful finale.

From the same director of “The Graduate,” this comedy/drama illustrates how far one woman must go to attain her goals. No better cast could have performed in this film as each actor molds into her/his role splendidly. Nominated for five Academy Awards, including best picture, “Working Girl” is a thoroughly entertaining corporate rags-to-riches tale.

Staff writer Marjorie Hamburger can be reached at verve@collegian.com.

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