The BFI is bringing 80s smash hit 9 to 5 back to the big screen this autumn. Hilariously tackling issues that almost 40 years later are finally being taken seriously in the age of #MeToo, the film stars Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin and Dolly Parton as workmates who take matters into their own hands and refuse to put up with their sexist boss’s behaviour.
The film features the iconic title song by Parton, and is an inspiring story about female friendship which was decades ahead of its time, and is ripe for rediscovery by a whole new generation of film lovers.
Directed by Colin Higgins (Foul Play), 9 to 5 was based on an idea by Fonda, who wanted to make a film about clerical workers; one with a political message about the inequalities in the workplace but couched through comedy.
The idea was turned into a story by Patricia Resnick, who penned the screenplay alongside Higgins. The three protagonists – Judy, Violet, and Doralee – are sick of putting up with their bigoted boss in their all-female workplace. They join forces to hatch a plan that they hope will get rid of him for good.
The film went on to become the second-highest grossing film of 1980, behind only The Empire Strikes Back.
The film is the centrepiece of the BFI’s forthcoming blockbuster season of film and TV comedy, Comedy Genius, which runs from Monday, October 22 to January 31, 2019. 9 to 5 will be previewed at BFI Southbank on Tuesday, October 23 with Jane Fonda In Conversation, where she will discuss her career, the film, and plans for the recently announced sequel, which is now in development.
Back in July, while taking part in the US Television Critics Association panel about her forthcoming HBO documentary, Jane Fonda in Five Acts, Fonda confirmed a sequel to 9 to 5 is in the works. The plan is to follow the original and deal with today’s workplace problems with another dynamic group of female characters.
Fonda stated that she wouldn’t be in it if that central aspect changes, but said “right now, Dolly, Lily and I are all intending to be in it”, before adding that “I’m sorry to say that the situation is worse today”, citing out-sourcing of recruitment and social media enabling spying by employers as current issues that have caught her eye.
This BFI re-release offers a perfect opportunity to revisit – or discover for the first time – this classic feminist comedy. Although to digital natives the pre-technological office setting seems like a very long time ago, the issues raised in 9 to 5 are sadly just as relevant today, almost 40 years later, and, as the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements have shown, are still being fought by working women everywhere.
9 to 5 is in UK cinemas nationwide from Friday, November 16.