Nominated for 6 Academy Awards; director Mike Nichols' witty, romantic look at life in the corporate jungle stars Melanie Griffith as Tess McGill, an ambitious secretary with a unique approach for climbing the ladder to success. When her classy, but villainous boss (Sigourney Weaver) Breaks a leg skiing, Tess simply takes over her office, her apartment, even her wardrobe. She then creates a deal with a handsome investment banker (Harrison Ford) that will either take her straight to the top - or finish her off for good.
There are few films that are as quintessentially '1980s' in both tone and appearance as Director Mike Nichols' 'Working Girl', the Oscar-nominated movie that was a cry for the empowerment of females in the workplace in 1988, but seems rather old-fashioned and antiquated when viewed now. It's still a good comedy with some nice performances, but it does come across as dated – and not just because of all that 80s hair sported by the female characters of the film.
The movie stars Melanie Griffith as Tess McGill, a young woman who keeps working secretarial jobs, but often provides her bosses with insightful tips about deals they should be considering. As the film gets underway, Tess quits her job for a brokerage firm when her boss sets her up with a sleazy businessman (played by Kevin Spacey in a short cameo I'm sure he's not particularly fond of) who just wants to score with Tess. Tess's next job is as a secretary for businesswoman Katharine Parker (Sigourney Weaver), whom Tess quickly develops trust with to the point where she suggests Katharine should oversee a deal with a local conglomerate looking to become big in the media business by suggesting they buy into radio instead of television.
Not long after Tess pitches the idea to her boss, Katharine breaks her right leg in a skiing accident, forcing her into rehab and leaving Tess alone in the office (and in Katharine's New York apartment) to run things while she's incapacitated. However, while in Katherine's apartment, Tess comes across a recording where Katharine states she's going to take the radio deal to a businessman and investor named Jack Trainer (Harrison Ford) and specifically mentions she wants Tess kept out of the loop. Feeling betrayed, Tess decides to go to Trainer herself, pretending to be a businesswoman of her own. Tess's fooling Trainer into thinking she's a high-powered businesswoman is the gist for the comedy/drama that follows.
Harrison Ford hasn't tackled too many comedies in his career, but this one is clearly his best and I'd forgotten how good he was in this movie (ironically, given the movie's push for female empowerment, Ford still gets top billing, even though Griffith is clearly the lead here). As annoying as I've found Melanie Griffith in most of her roles that followed, 'Working Girl' is clearly her best work and it's a shame we never really got to see her in anything as good as this film again. I'm not sure the two actors have the best of on-screen chemistry together, but it's enough to make this movie an enjoyable watch.
Sadly, for as well as this movie played to audiences back in the late 80s, it's one of those titles that has definitely aged with time and doesn't work as well today. Setting aside the unavoidable 80s look and feel of the movie, the 'novelty' here of a woman working her way up the corporate ladder from secretary to a corner office just isn't as shocking or revolutionary anymore. If they remade 'Working Girl' today, they'd probably do it in reverse, with a woman in the Jack Trainer role and a male in the role of Tess.
Because the film now feels so dated, and because Fox hasn't provided much for fans in terms of bonus features on this release (read our 'Supplements' section below), this is one of those releases that is really only going to appeal to fans of the movie and/or those who have never seen it and may want to check it out as a rental. It's still a good, solid film, but it has lost some of its appeal over the last quarter of a century.
The Blu-Ray: Vital Disc Stats
'Working Girl' arrives on Blu-ray with a 50GB dual-layer disc housed inside an eco-friendly Elite keepcase. The case includes an insert with a code for a digital copy of the movie. The disc isn't front-loaded with any trailers and, after the 20th Century Fox logo, goes straight to the main menu, which is a still of the three lead actors identical to the one that appears on the box cover. Menu selections run across the bottom of the screen.
The Blu-ray is region-free.
At first glance, the 1080p/MPEG-4 AVC transfer may seem rather average in quality, but that's largely due to the fact that 'Working Girl' has always been a pretty grainy/'soft-looking' film to begin with. Thankfully, the folks over at Fox didn't try to 'wow' buyers by applying a ton of DNR and try to sharpen up some of the details. The image is full of grain throughout, giving it a very film-like look and quality. No, it never has the 'wow' factor that modern movies arriving on Blu-ray often do, but it manages to convey a pretty close approximation to what 'Working Girl' looked like in theaters back in 1988.
While the graininess of the picture means that detail is often on the soft side of things, I must confess that I liked the color timing of the movie – although it's perhaps impossible to know how close this actually is to the original presentation (unless someone has an old 35mm print they'd like to bring over). What I liked is that the colors come off as warm without ever being oversaturated or resulting in bleed-through. In terms of flaws, there's a little hint of dirt and jitter (noticeable in the credits) in the opening of the movie, but that all but ends after Carly Simon stops singing and the rest of the film is primarily free of issues or problems.
The featured audio here is an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track, that is just fine in terms of clarity, but doesn't do much in terms of activity. 'Working Girl' is primarily a dialogue-heavy film, but even when you'd expect the soundtrack to come to life – as in the opening credits number with Carly Simon – the sound is pretty subdued. In fact, I had to get close to my rear speakers to see if any sound was coming from them at all. It was, of course, but the output was rather limited and barely audible from a distance.
Even though there's not much in terms of an immersive feel and little directionality use to speak of, the actual spoken word is crisp and clear – to the point where it's obvious when the actors voices have been dubbed with ADR in some of the outdoor scenes (such as the one that begins the movie). Balance is also pretty good, and there are no dropouts or other obvious glitches in the track.
In addition to the lossless English track, this Blu-ray release supplies plenty of other options when it comes to both audio and subtitles. Additional audio tracks are available in English 2.0 Dolby Digital, French DTS 5.1, Spanish DTS 2.0, Spanish Dolby Digital Mono, German DTS 5.1, Italian DTS 2.0, Czech Dolby Digital 2.0, and Thai Dolby Digital 2.0. Subtitles consist of English SDH, French, Spanish, Spanish (Castilian), Portuguese, German, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Italian, Norwegian, Swedish, Chinese, Czech, Greek, Icelandic, Korean, Polish, and Thai.
An 80s film that is all about female empowerment, 'Working Girl' actually seems quite quaint by today's movie standards. While the movie itself may no longer have the social impact it did when it first hit theaters, it still proves to be a rather entertaining comedy from one of America's more noteworthy directors. However, the lack of any meaningful supplements here make this release one for fans of the film only.