Since 1894 when it became a national holiday, the first Monday in September has been recognized as Labor Day, an American holiday which is dedicated to workers. For the first several decades of its existence, “workers” almost always meant men. However, as the 20th century progressed, there was an increasing awareness that women were a vital component of America’s workforce. “Working Girl,” from 1988, is a glorious acknowledgment of the roles women have played in American workplaces.
In “Working Girl,” Melanie Griffith plays Tess McGill, a down-on-her-luck young woman who gets fired from her job for insulting her obnoxious boss. Shortly after this, the sharp working class heroine goes to work as a secretary for the far more privileged Katherine Parker (played by Sigourney Weaver), a mergers executive. Katherine seems friendly and encourages Tess to share any ideas she develops about the company’s business prospects. After a skiing accident lands Katherine in the hospital, Tess finds that her boss is really not so nice since she passed off one of her secretary’s ideas as her own. This news comes at a bad time for Tess since she finds her boyfriend (played by Alec Baldwin) having sex with another woman. With Katherine away recuperating, Tess decides to steal her idea back by pretending to be the mergers executive. After a hilarious makeover enabled by her best friend, Tess teams up with Jack Trainer (played by Harrison Ford), an investment broker. As they work together on the deal, they fall for each other.
Melanie Griffith does great work in the lead role. She shows that her character is ambitious, and we always root for her. Sigourney Weaver is equally impressive as the snooty and ambitious Katherine. She is a great villain. Another memorable performance is by Joan Cusack, who plays the earthy and earnest Cyn, Tess’s trusted friend who stands by her throughout. All three actresses earned Academy Award nominations for their work in the film.
“Working Girl” is a great movie to watch to honor Labor Day and the role of women in the workplace.