9 to 5

Nine to Five

Notice to all tyrant supervisors out there – there is no wrath like that of a trio of women scorned. 9 to 5 pitted three corporate employees against a “sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot” and provided laughs aplenty as the co-workers exacted their revenge in this surprise 1980 hit.

Judy (played by Jane Fonda in a rare comedic role) has just been dumped by her cheating husband and is forced into the corporate world. Landing a job as a secretary, she soon befriends Violet (Lily Tomlin,) the under-appreciated brains behind her egotistical boss, Frank (Dabney Coleman) and Doralee (Dolly Parton in her first film appearance,) the buxom personal secretary to Frank.

The women are gradually reaching their boiling point working under Frank at Consolidated. Violet is repeatedly turned down for promotions, Judy is tired of waging war against the company photocopy machine, and Doralee is the victim of rumors spread by Frank that the two are having an affair. After a girl’s night out, in which each offers their own comical fantasy of what they would like to see happen to Frank, including being roasted over a fire and hunting him down in the office with a shotgun, they return to the office the next day only to see one of the fantasies actually played out. Violet, who dreamed up the fantasy of poisoning Frank, accidentally puts rat poison in his coffee, thinking it is artificial sweetener. Luckily, before Frank can drink the coffee, he falls victim to a faulty office chair and knocks himself unconscious. Arriving at the hospital, the women overhear the police talking about a poisoning and assume they are talking about Frank.

The next day, they are surprised to learn that Frank is not only fine, but back in the office. Thanks to an eavesdropping co-worker, however, he knows more about the previous night than they would prefer. When he attempts to blackmail Doralee into having an affair with him, she proves to have had enough – proceeding to hogtie her boss, and with the other women’s help, kidnap him. They hold him hostage in his own home, bound by a harness and dog collar, which they can control with a remote-controlled garage door opener. With Frank out of the picture now, the three take over the company – implementing a number of innovations like daycare and allowing employees to put pictures and plants in their cubicles. The result is markedly improved productivity and overall morale. Frank eventually escapes his bondage and arrives back at work ready to throw everyone in jail. A surprise visit by Frank’s boss, Tinsdale, is about the only thing that can save the day for his trio of captors.

Dolly Parton wrote and sang the catchy theme song for 9 to 5 and it became one of the biggest hits of her career, rising to the #1 spot on the charts. Meanwhile, the movie’s huge success led to two television series, in 1982 and 1986, and a stage adaptation of the film which opened on Broadway in 2009, although it only ran for a few months. Meanwhile, the film remains a favorite among comedy lovers to this day and it secured a well-deserved spot on the American Film Institute’s “100 Funniest Movies” list (#74). 9 to 5 resonated with an entire generation of mistreated office workers, fueled their fantasies for exacting revenge, and made their bosses a little more paranoid about that first sip of morning coffee.

If you count 9 to 5 among your favorite 80s comedy films, we’d love to hear your thoughts about this memorable movie in our comments section below.

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