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Nine to Five: "Best Shot" Visual Index

For this week's episode of Hit Me With Your Best Shot: the classic comedy Nine to Five (1980). We chose it to coincide with the forthcoming premiere of Grace & Frankie which will reunite Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin at last. Pity that Dolly Parton doesn't figure in! 

Nine To Five was a smash hit when it premiered in December 1980, finishing that year as the top grossing movie without light sabers. Awards bodies weren't as kind as the public. Though the title song won two Grammys for Dolly Parton, she didn't win her Oscar category (the film's only nomination) and even more bizarrely, the movie wasn't nominated for Best Comedy at the Golden Globes. The film has endured quite well in pop culture so it doesn't need resuscitation but we thought it would be interesting to think about the way it's shot. Comedies are rarely considered in that regard. The film was directed by Colin Higgins who only made three films (all of them comedy hits) due to an early death at only 47. It was shot by cinematographer Reynaldo Villabolos who is, more happily, still with us and still working in film and television.

Best Shots from Nine To Five (1980)
10 shots from 12 participating blogs
Click on the images for their corresponding articles 

A movie makeover waiting to happen, right?"
-Film Actually 

The film, for being as sunny as it seems, has a lasting dark undercurrent to it.
-Awards Madness 

It's surprising that the three leads are kept apart from each other for the first full half hour of the film... 
-Queerer Things 

And then this fantasy sequence happened...
-Paul Outlaw 

The fantasy element allows the filmmakers to literalize some of the more abstract ideas of feminist theory and connect them to pop culture.
-Coco Hits NY 

Violet's fantasy is the best encapsulation of the film's sense of humor..
- The Entertainment Junkie 

Based on an idea by co-star Jane Fonda who finally plays it mousy -- at first. And then we get the old persona back, a pastel version of it that allows her to mock and affirm her reputation at the same time....
-The Spy in the Sandwich 

Grim humor married to utter silliness..."
- The Film Experience 

People tend to remember these three characters as best friends, but scenes like this one remind us that their friendship is actually young and not invulnerable..."
-Dusty Hixenbaugh 

I do love all of the shots with all three of them in the frame...
-Sorta That Guy 


Finding the guts to get through these days is one thing, but actually getting through them with dignity intact is something else..." 
-The Matinee 

 I found myself gravitating towards the film's other inversion of traditional gender roles..."
-Antagony & Ecstasy 

Was it fun for you to revisit Nine to Five?
What's YOUR Best Shot and Favorite Scene... Hell, what's your favorite line reading? I already shared mine.

NEXT WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Jane Campion's period romance Bright Star (2009) which is impossibly beautiful to look at and will make for a very challenging episode. Here's the Best Shot Schedule

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Reader Comments (13)

Fun reads so far.

April 22, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBrianZ

The gender politics of this film are fascinating.

Also, Lily, Dolly, and Jane make an unlikely acting trio, but an incredible one.

April 22, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterTyler

I adore the bit with Judy in the Xerox room. I always thought that one scene totally encapsulates the frustration the women feel in trying to navigate the gender politics in their office, even though all you see is Jane fumbling around cascades of colored pages.

At one point while watching this movie, my husband said, "It's been 35 years since they made this, and women are still fighting for the same things in the workplace."

April 23, 2015 | Unregistered Commentercash

My family had a Magnetic Video VHS copy of this. One of the very first movies to be released in that format (while still playing in theaters!). I remember watching it constantly in the late 80s/early 90s when I was growing up.

There is a specific 80s look to this film and it's great you are examining that aspect. The film is still funny and smart and it's pretty disappointing that it couldn't manage a Screenplay nomination, or more Globe attention. AFI included it in their list of top 100 comedies so that's cool.

April 23, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterPatrick T

I love the opening credits. I watched them over and over.

April 23, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

Fonda is such a great actress. I love her work in this. (And Dolly, Lily and Dabney).

April 23, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterHenry

CASH -- isn't that crazy? alas. too true.

PEGGY - the 80s loved those street montages. I miss them. The last one I remember in a contemporary movie was in CLOSER (2004) and i love that one, too.

HENRY - one of our very best, always

April 23, 2015 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I really wanted to play along, and now I wish that I had. I didn't have a chance to rewatch the film and so I was hesitant to include a pic without being able to accurately give it subtext, especially since I remember very little about the film (it's been quite a few years since I've seen this), but my favorite shot (at least that I remember) isn't up there which means that it would have added something new. :-(

April 23, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew

I have loved this movie for as long as I can remember, and my favorite scene has to be Doralee turning the tables on Mr. Hart in the dream sequence. "I just wanted to check your bod." Hilarious.

April 23, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSawyer

Sawyer -- lol. I remember when people used to say that! This means I am old.

April 23, 2015 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Fonda is brilliant. To think she did this film in between The China Syndrome and On Golden Pond. That's range.

April 23, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

I rewatched this for the first time in many years recently (it was one of those late '70s/early '80s comedies I watched incessantly as a kid, along with things like Caddyshavk and Private Benjamin) and wow, it actually holds up, But like cash said, we haven't made many advances since 1980. All of the reforms they put into place at the end would be welcome in most workplaces today.

Also, I've been listening to the theme song incessantly since I rewatched the film. I can't really fault the Academy for going with Fame (wow, that was the golden era for movie songs), but 9 to 5 has held up better.

April 26, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

I have to agree with Coco Hits NY's best shot. Being a contemporary of this movie, it was one of those movies that I had to stop and watch every time I passed it while flipping through channels.

It remains to this day one of my favorite movies, and this scene in particular sticks with me. I would give Lily Tomlin an oscar nomination just for this sequence alone. It's brilliant. and, yes, that wink at the audience is pure gold.

That said, the entire film is movie perfection in my book, start to finish.

April 27, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterbella

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