S1: This ad free podcast is part of your Slate plus membership. Hello, welcome to the Working Girl episode of Sleep. Money goes to the movies. I’m Felix Salmon of Axios. I’m here with Alicia Mansky. Hello. We have the inimitable and unique Joely Hunt from Hunt. Gather Julie, introduce yourself and tell us what is this movie that we are going to be talking about.
S2: Well, Felix, today’s special is Working Girl, a classic in my very humble opinion film from the late 80s that was really about someone trying to make it, in this case, Wall Street, but really just trying to make it in the business world and getting there through a whole host of sexual harassment idea poaching. The fashion statements were remarkable. And really, I think it’s a movie about rooting for the underdog and what you can achieve if the fairy tale chips fall in your favor, so to speak.
S1: And it’s your life. Right. This is basically the myopic look.
S2: I mean, there’s definitely aspects of this movie, you know, without getting out my Stradivarius. I mean, you know, I had a parent who grew up in New York City and a parent who grew up in the sticks and always dreamed of working in that tall building in Manhattan and living the big life. And so I do think that for my younger self and my current self, it’s a good reminder of why you have to hustle to get wherever it is that you’re going.
S1: Home is nothing if not a hustler. So we will join you on the other side talking about working go. OK, usually working go, where were you when you first saw this movie? How old were you?
S2: I was ten. Nineteen eighty eight was was a seminal year in my life and I watched such classics like Cocktail and Beetlejuice and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. But for me, Rainman, it was a big year for movies. If you really
S1: like a big
S2: hit Die Hard. It was the great outdoors, which I still love. I know that’s a different podcast, but I was 10 and in upstate New York and promptly after this movie came out, I started researching how old you had to be to get a job back in the day. You had to be 11 to have a work permit. And let me tell you, pre Internet, I had to really canvass the streets to get this kind of information. But I promptly got employment in nineteen eighty nine. I think hot off the back of Tess McGill
S1: on the basis of this was clearly the way to riches and success in the world was to get a job.
S2: One hundred percent. Yes.
S1: That was the lesson that you learned at age 10 from watching the movie.
S2: It is. And you know, I think growing up with parents from different socioeconomic backgrounds, it was a fascinating look at if you try hard enough, if you work hard enough, if you gussy up a little bit, you two have you have half a brain on you. You two can be a success story. So I think so much of this movie is about the American dream and what is possible.
S1: This is you’re taking this at face value, American Dream. This is like the woman who worked her way up from secretary into person with secretary. And it’s like, I know a duckling flowering into a swan.
S2: That was my journey, literally. I mean, my first job out of college, working for Putnam Investments was sitting outside of all the male executives. There was a row of secretaries, assistants. We were graduated to begin called and no women were in senior roles. So weirdly, it’s and I don’t know that I knew this at ten. In fact, I’m near certain I didn’t. But it really was life imitating art, if you think about it. I mean, it was it was hard to break through and not everybody does. And so, yeah, I’m sure you’re going to yell at me for being as cliche as that sounds to you.
S1: Attend. Surely we’re not going to yell at you for that.
S2: Yeah, but I was I mean, look, I don’t remember how I felt exactly at ten years old about this movie, but watching it thirty years later, it gave me the same kinds of fields. And, you know, I mean, even her changing her sneakers and her socks into heels, I feel like even some of the examples I took with me through every job in life. And so, yeah, I do think at ten it was a beautiful display of how do you get ahead? And being smart is not the only way. You do have to be a bit cunning. And I’d like to think I did some of that.
S3: I also loved this movie when I was little. I don’t know what age I was, but it was probably similar to ten, although I would have seen it on a vest. I would have been six when this came out. So I definitely did not see it in the theaters. And I do think it’s a it’s a somewhat unique example of a film where the ending is the women getting a corporate job and that is the best thing that can happen. That’s not a that’s not a standard trajectory in film. But I will say it was interesting watching it again, because I have not seen it in a very long time. And although I do feel like I know every single line in this movie, what have you watched it that it is definitely a fairy tale. And I think it is very clearly depicted as a fairy tale, even the way the music kind of fits in at certain points. And it’s a fairy tale about class, about about moving a class. And one of the things I did think was interesting, too, was that one of the lessons that I got watching at this time was they were saying the American dream is only possible if you actually break rules that the idea of pulling yourself up on your own is impossible. That’s what she realizes, that she can’t possibly do that. She has to a literally, like lie and pretend to someone else. But then she also needs the help of wealthy people who can actually bring her up. That is how that actually works, which is probably one of the more realistic aspects of the film,
S1: which is also the, you know, the trading places trajectory. Right. Is the thing if we’re going to do something which is kind of basically illegal or moral or something, but it’s in the service of a greater good and it will all come fine in the end.
S3: But it creates this idea of maybe I don’t know if in the late eighties, early to late eighties, this was this idea that. It’s a little bit of the game is rigged because they like the way the game is originally structured for tests, it doesn’t matter that she’s going to night school. It doesn’t matter that she’s very smart. She cannot get ahead similar to in training places like the Eddie Murphy character. Not that he was going to night school or attempting to get ahead, but he clearly was, you know, very smart. But it took these amazing outside forces in order for that change to happen, which, if you kind of think about it, is is almost actually a little bit of a critique of the American dream at the same time that it’s celebrating it.
S1: The real critique of the dream to fast forward to the final shot of the movie is like she achieved her dream. She gets the secretary of her own and then you do that long like helicopter pan out to Chase Manhattan building. And she’s just revealed to be a cubicle drone in the middle of like one hundred and fifty seven other identical cubicles. And suddenly you realize that she’s just a cog in the machine. There’s this darkness to the final shot, which which kind of makes you look at the whole movie a little bit differently,
S3: maybe, although I also think that was perhaps to also suggest that there are lots of different stories, like I understand your reading and I think it’s a perfectly valid reading. But one of the things that also jumped out at me at that scene is that throughout the film you constantly have lateral movement because she’s going on the very back and forth between, like her old life and her new life. But she is only going back and forth. It’s lateral. And it’s that point when she goes up
S2: like, oh, that’s an interesting one.
S3: So that was the other thing that kind of jumped out at me.
S1: I like that. I like the moving from the horizontal to the vertical. There’s a lot of stuff happens at the end of the movie in elevators. That’s true. Yes. So the is a key a key part of the final bit of the movie in the way that they haven’t really appeared anywhere else in the movie up until that point, like the big meetings that she’s having, Trask Industries. And so they all seem to be on the ground floor, just around the corner from the.
S2: Yeah. One flight of stairs, that
S1: one place where you can have a quick emergency meeting before going into the big meeting. I was reading an early version of the script, actually, and it turns out that Patty Marche, which is the bank that she works for, is named in the script as the world’s largest brokerage house. Although she went to working for Trask, she doesn’t exactly démarche in the end. I think I would like to do a quick detour into the mechanics of this movie, which are extremely confusing because there’s the company she winds up working for, which is this big company which has offices in Syracuse, and she went to living happily ever after in that that’s the company she was working for up until that point, which is the world’s largest brokerage house. There’s the company which is run by Colonel Sanders, which is the one they’re trying to buy. And then there’s Jack Trena, who works for another company entirely,
S2: Dewey Stone,
S1: Dewey Stone. So does anyone understand, like what Dewey Stone has to do with anything and how he’s necessary to anything?
S3: Well, it’s interesting because he asks in the film, he says, why are you bringing me in? Right. It’s suggested, I would say, that the Katherine Parker character, the Sigourney Weaver character, apparently didn’t feel that her team had a sufficient ability to put this deal through. So she went to him also. He’s her love interest. So that probably also has something to do with it. But that was, I think, the idea.
S2: Yeah, I think so. She was she was stealing the idea. So she also had to, by the nature of the theft of the idea, she had to go somewhere else. But I agree with you, it was not clear why we needed all these companies in elevators and staircases and briefcases. The problem is whether it took a lot of leather to make this movie.
S1: Julie is the connoisseur of luxury goods in this conversation. Can you tell us about the semiotics of the briefcase that Jack gives Tess?
S2: Yeah, I mean, I think it’s a seminal moment. And I think even before that, the line to me, when they met at the cocktail party that she wasn’t really meant to be. And she puts on that six thousand dollar dress.
S1: It’s not even leather, it’s
S3: not even a leather.
S2: And I thought it was so telling that Jack Traynor, a.k.a. Harrison Ford, who, by the way, is a babe in this movie. I mean, I said I was too young for Harrison Ford. And I was like, oh, I, I really get it now. I appreciate him in my early 40s. He gives her a compliment that you’re the first woman that dresses like a woman at these things. Not like how a woman thinks a man would dress if he were a woman. I’d do it for you. Why do you know? We don’t know.
S4: I promised myself that when I saw you, I would get to know you. You’re the first one I’ve seen in one of these damn things that dresses like a woman, not like a woman thinks a man would dress if he was a woman.
S2: Thank you. I guess.
S1: What are you doing here?
S2: Actually, I’m looking for someone myself. His name is Jack Traynor, he works and we don’t know if he’s here.
S4: Why are you looking for him?
S2: Well, because I have a meeting with him tomorrow, and I thought it might be nice to say hello and get a head start.
S1: Well, he. He just left.
S2: And I do think that leads into the briefcase scene because to me, I felt like it was him assisting her. And to Anna’s earlier point, you need someone to pull you up in these situations, right? And actually, Catherine gives her that guidance as well when she tells her to change her jewelry. So there’s all these subtle cues on your you’re almost there. You need to cut your hair if you want to be taken seriously. You can’t wear six pounds of blue eye makeup. I mean, by the way, I do on occasion. And I think it has its place. I like the record to show, but but I think it gives her the briefcase because it’s clear she doesn’t have one. And, you know, she takes that rubber band off of her satchel in the meeting with him. And, you know, I was wondering how he got the briefcase so quickly. But, you know, I guess that’s Hollywood for you.
S1: This is kind of, I think, the comic highlight of his career. He turns out to be an amazing career glum figure. Basically, this the classic rock n roll. And Cary Grant was a great comic actor. And I’ve never seen Harrison Ford be so just like glamorously funny. And you kind of feel like this movie. It feels like a Hitchcock movie in that sense.
S3: I agree. And one of the things that jumped out at me, too, and kind of going back to also that line about a woman dressing like a man thinks a woman would dress if they were in the way that gender worked in this film, because the Harrison Ford character is almost kind of feminized at certain points. The way that these women are kind of ogling his body, he’s being objectified the way that the Catherine Parker character at one point, like, is basically trying to sexually assault him. I mean, he plays a very interesting role. And at the same time, like there’s that scene, like when they were going to sleep together for the first time and they’re both taking off their, like, button down shirt, which is also this just I feel like the film is doing something actually kind of interesting with gender and
S1: the way that he gets a little vulnerable with her. Right. When he’s like, I get this deal and he almost like breaks into tears.
S2: Well, but it’s such a counterpoint to the Alec Baldwin character. I do feel like all of these examples are it’s like point in counterpoint. It’s like he’s a pig who thinks she went to traffic court because she looked good and say,
S4: oh, I just meant to have that briefcase. What’s going to make fun of you right now? No, you look good. classI. What you have to go to traffic court is on. No, I just got off work, I sort of kind of promotion,
S2: whereas here is you know, it’s the classic kind of Prince Charming, of course, is going to show up with a briefcase. Of course, he’s going to carry her up a flight of stairs after meeting her, you know, an hour prior and put her into bed and, you know, not take naked selfies with her. So it’s I think they’re going. So many women love this movie, too, right? It’s the fantasy of it all.
S3: What of the things to the that kind of reminds me of the Alec Baldwin character, because when I remember this is a kid and when I watch it now, I’m like, I know if I should have been watching. This is like an eight year old, but I felt that way, too. I remembered the Alec Baldwin character. I just like totally just being a pig. That was it. Yeah. I watch it this time I thought was interesting because there’s a scene when she’s like dancing with him and there’s a scene at the end at the wedding where it’s almost like to me it’s like he represented a past in a world that she has to leave in order to have her new identity. And there’s also almost like a little bit of sadness, like a little bit of loss. It wasn’t simply that he was horrible and everything else was great.
S2: Right. And I think her best friend and John Cusack is a sin represented that, too, because Tess graduated out of that life. And even if you look at the fashion choices where they put her in that powder blue, hideous bridesmaid dress with the banana clips and I mean, it’s it’s so bad. It’s good. They made such a point of putting her in muted tones and muted makeup when she was in a successful context and making her a bit cartoonish in the Staten Island crowd of this is, you know, she’s working her way out of that. And I I agree. I mean, he was I think in the same way that they made Harrison Ford or Jack Trainer such a babe and feminised and, you know, so decent and polite. They took the opposite with Mick and Alec Baldwin, you know, to have him screwing the the friend, you know, and she comes home from night
S3: school, her emerging market seminar. Yes.
S1: Emerging market was that wonderful line. And emerging markets can emerge on your birthday with that. All right. I’ll pick you up at five p.m.,
S2: ride back together again at Emerging Market Seminar five 30 your birthday. Can’t they emerge without you just this once?
S1: It’s got a relatively sophisticated understanding it for them so that it’s really necessary. But, you know, I mean, there was one line which jumped out at me like this is nineteen eighty eight. This is really quite ahead of its time and you’re going to love this. And at one point, she suggests the Trask Industries uses the leftover cash on its balance sheet to do a stock buyback. I think
S1: like nowadays, stock buyback. Well, of course you do that you wouldn’t put in 1988 those things wouldn’t you. And we’re like, wow, that’s kind of bold.
S3: No, I agree. There’s also a line that jumped out at me because I feel like you would never have a heroine say this in a film today when she’s dancing with Trask and she says you are the one who, like, put in Japanese management principles what everyone else was kowtowing to the unions.
S2: If I had a nickel for every time I said that at a wedding.
S1: So, Julie, tell me again, when it comes to the fairy tale, is there a sense in which it goes the other way, right. That she has to give up who she is? Like that the original task with the big head, Joan Khoosat kind of lifestyle is her authentic self. And all of that has to get jettisoned in order to be able to just climb a wrong on the corporate ladder.
S2: I don’t think so, because the first call that she made when she got that office was to send right to her connection to her old life. And I do think that you have to evolve and change. But it was clear from the opening scene when she on her birthday was going to night school and taking all these seminars, that she was desperate for that path, that she had been working on that evolution for a long while. And that’s why we see so many transitions in her roles and all of the smutty scenes with her from Bob and Arbitrages and her colleagues, because I think that as an audience member, they wanted us to understand her plight and that if you look at how the movie starts and ends, it’s it’s that path that she was making for herself the whole time.
S3: Yeah. It’s almost like she was always this diamond in the rough. And then circumstances allowed her to reveal that.
S2: Yep, I totally agree with that. But I would say there’s still
S3: maybe I was reading too much into it, but I did feel that there was a little bit of sense of loss, though, that even though I agree with you, that that last scene, which is was a pretty wonderful scene where she calls sin, like there’s still a sense of like she’s shifted roles. It’s not like you’re seeing her. You don’t expect her to do, like, code switching, where she’s going to be going back and forth between, you know, like she has now moved into a different world. And that does result in, you know, probably losing connection with. Where she came from
S1: and there is you know, the code switching is explicit, right, when she changes her accent and she
S3: does quite literally.
S1: And it’s clearly part of the subterfuge that she needs to get ahead, which I guess I know there’s nothing show. You don’t read that as a tragic thing. You just read that as a sort of having a career thing,
S2: perhaps because I relate to it not as drastically, but I grew up in a very small town where many people stayed and it was totally and is totally acceptable to work in the local firehouse, work in the local school, working the local bakery, and from a very early age. I did not want that. And and I didn’t even know why. I didn’t want that. I just I just wanted something bigger. And I still have links to that place and to people from that part of my life. But this is more who I always was meant to be, if that makes sense. And so I’m sure I’m projecting myself onto test.
S1: I will save for the benefit of the crowd who are listening to this podcast and have never met the force of nature. That is, surely you are basically Kathleen Parker, public relations. You swung into any room and dominates it with impeccable fashion, which we do need to talk about the the Sigourney Weaver costume design.
S2: And she’s Catherine Parker. Yes.
S1: Sorry, Catherine packett my bed, just like she steals everything that she’s in. She clearly the costume design that was on top form with Catherine and then like just the John Cusack, the scene costumes, it was just like glorious and fun. But Julie, you’re you’re the expert on women’s professional clothing.
S2: I take all my cues from you, Felix. I would. Look, the obvious symbolism is that she’s wearing red and all of the power since everything is red, the boots for skiing or red, the dress at her coming out party is red. Her jacket, when she’s, you know, banging down the door into traffic is red. It’s very clearly a power color and meant to say I am in charge even at the cocktail party. It’s a sea of grey suits and Catherine holding court in a beautifully attired red dress. And none of those things were an accident. Even I think down to the point, one of the songs that someone was dancing to was Lady in Red. So they wanted you to know in a relatively cliched way, red is the power color, right? It’s the Hillary Clinton pantsuit of its time. And and there was no mistaking who you were supposed to know was in charge and the brains of the operation. I also think they made her very glamorous. Ironically, I found her to be a bit, which I guess is the point, but cold and masculine. I mean, she was not a sexy character. If you look at test, test was sexy, right? The voice was sexy. The you know, the lingerie was sexy. And the way that she turned it on, I mean, the fashion was incredible. And I do think that it was the time and I remember this from early days of my corporate career, very vividly having a boss tell me you cannot paint your nails a color. They have to be clear or white. I expect you to wear a suit, but not with pants, a skirt every day and nothing dangly, no earrings, no bracelets. And that was only ten years after this movie was made. It just wasn’t done to have a bold statement as a woman in the workplace like that. So I loved the fashion and I loved the bad fashion just as much as I loved the wedding dress. I mean, the 80s hair and makeup deserves its own podcast, really does. It’s just the volume alone of like even just thinking about sharing an elevator with some of the assistants. There must be three feet wide of hairspray in each scene. So, look, I also think Catherine’s character was so clearly from money. If you looked at the picture on her desk with her parents and staying in her parents house and the walls on the wall and, you know, the crystal just, you know, in her small fridge next to her bedroom, you know, I’m sure she was skiing. And she I mean, they didn’t tell us exactly where she was going, but it was so clearly the archetype of someone that is money that went to the perfect schools that speaks perfect German and not perfect.
S1: I have to say, her German was
S2: better than mine. Helmut is
S5: Catherine Parker. Renditioned Dongo, Lindsay Bisto in good health, Marlena Fabel, Hoft, Lindsay estis Mockridge just 300 feet into becoming. Feeling, feeling dunks isn’t mine, Zsuzsa.
S3: It’s interesting because I know critiques I’ve heard of the film well, people will say, oh, it’s sexist because of her character and how she is depicted. And I don’t know if I really buy that too perfectly honest, because while you could say, well, she’s quoted as being like a powerful woman and that’s a powerful woman has to be the bad guy. But then I also kind of feel like, well, she’s quoted as being a person in power who happens to be a woman. And I think it would be a little silly to just assume that every woman in power is going to behave no differently than a man in power would behave, especially at a time when not that many women were in power. It probably makes perfect sense that a lot of women would behave very similar to the men that were around them. And it also makes that moment when she steals Tessa’s idea so much more hurtful in a way because it is coming from a woman. So I think it was useful to have her character be a female. But I don’t I don’t know if I buy the idea that it’s necessarily sexist that she is this kind of dragon lady.
S2: I agree. And I also think if you look at the example of even the feedback and test his first job where she didn’t get the promotion that she was up for because it went to someone from an Ivy League school, I do think it’s more an indictment on class than it is on the typical what we think of as sexist. I think it’s really that you were on the wrong side of the tracks. I was on the right side of the tracks. Therefore, I have different opportunities, different wardrobes, and I don’t have to. People will believe me. I think that’s what’s implied.
S3: It is interesting, like how clearly they make this idea of like classes being performative is this idea that you you literally put on you literally put on the clothing, you literally put on the voice and like you as a person, have not actually fundamentally changed. But it is it’s performance in the same way people sometimes talk about gender as being a performance that’s just so explicit in this film.
S1: We should mention, too, like within the world of pretty much this was the classic. I mean, never in the movies has the distinction between the bankers and the traders been clearer than in working go where the whole initial scenes where you have, you know, Bob the Coke and Oliver Platt, the sexist and the traders. And then she gets moved into the M&A and it’s suddenly smooth and it’s Sigourney Weaver and everything’s elegant and there’s probably even more money, but they’re just much less flashy about it in much more understated. And this was pretty grim. Leach Bliley. So like this was back when banks and the bankers and traders couldn’t actually work at the same company. Now I’m suddenly realizing that none of this was possible. But that distinction, like it would make much more sense for her to rise up the ladder in her initial job on the trading floor. And she, when we first meet her, was quite good at reading the stock ticker and knowing which stocks are going to go up and down and that kind of stuff. And that would be the natural progression. And then if she did really well in that, she would wind up as some kind of like Gary Cohn figure, some kind of rash working class trade, you know, running the bank. But instead, she has to pretend to be someone else because she goes over to the banking side. And the advisory said,
S3: well, I think it was also to maybe show a little bit that, you know, because this movie is all about appearances and what is underneath those appearances. You know, she goes to this brokerage firm and as you said, everything does look so much nicer. You know, she says, oh, it’s so much better to work for this female boss. You know, I really think I have a chance. And then it turns out it is essentially exactly the same as where she was previously, despite how elegant everything appears.
S1: I agree with that. And she has to leave the banks winds up working for Trask instead. Right.
S2: And I read it, too, is she traded harassment for theft. Right. Right. So it’s pick your poison for the moment. And it was much less harried, clearly. But I also thought the psychological impact of Catherine Sayegh, who makes it happen, and all these quasi bullshitted terms to her, you know, we’re a team and really belittling her right from the jump, you know, get my coffee. And so pretending to be a friend and someone who’s going to support her, but actually being exactly the same. And you could argue, is it better to have that be so overt or veiled in kindness? Who knows?
S1: It’s also a very 80s movie. I mean, not just in terms of the fashion, but also in terms of the Reagan revolution and the careerism and the idea that you can sort of come up, rise up through the ranks in the bank and become successful. Like that’s all really there in that kind of it’s in that first wave of yuppies are good, really. Hey, we can achieve this. But, you
S3: know, I like that, actually, kind of I, I think I like this film because it’s not the the standard is this is always bad that, you know, I was thinking a little bit about the movie Baby Boom, which I think came out right around the same time about Diane Keaton. Like Inherit the Child, it’s very strange film, and part of the whole thing is that she realizes that actually she needs to be out of this rat race and you know, her maternal side, she has a baby food company. But this film, I don’t know, there’s something I kind of like about it, that it basically said, no, like these women are ambitious in the system, too, and they can achieve success in the system, too. And yes, of course, it is a fairy tale, but it’s not just the kind of simplistic critique of business that you often get in films.
S1: And there are goodies and baddies as well. I think the other movie it reminds me of a bit is Wall Street, where you have a competitive takeover situation and the white knight comes in to save the company. And that’s actually what’s happening here, right? Is the trisk is the white knight coming in to save the family owned company from this competitor who’s got the company in a bear hug? I love
S3: that big
S1: bear. Hug her in succession as well. Right. Like the bear hug coming.
S2: What’s old is new, I think. And your point is dead. Right. And that test is scrappy. Right. I think you want to root for someone who’s doing the work right. She’s reading W magazine to get the hot tip on dumplings. And, you know, she’s paying attention to what’s so clearly looks like page six and piecing it all together. And I, I do think that it’s hard not to root for someone like that because it’s so clear that she’s putting in the work and effort to try to try to make it happen. And you can see in the earlier scenes where they just don’t listen to her stock advice and she says no one’s going to listen to a secretary and that she has the, you know, the page tares to prove it. I mean, and at the end of the day, that saved her. Right.
S1: Although her page, Tetsuro, like page six and gossip about JSS. And then she really does rely on Harrison Ford to do the cap table stuff and the nitty gritty. You know, we actually
S2: don’t we all to
S3: be fair, there’s a scene where she’s like whatever the 80s version of downloading like an income statement. And she’s looking at it herself and like they’re going through the financial statements together at the table and
S1: discuss sources and uses. I remember that.
S2: And in lingerie. In lingerie casually.
S1: So the other thing which I was wondering about is you are unambiguously of the opinion, Jodi, that Melanie Griffith is much sexier in this movie than Sigourney Weaver.
S2: Without question.
S1: And there’s nothing
S2: Sigourney Weaver is the anti sexy in this book. I mean, she can’t even get a kiss from the guy she thought was proposing to her two weeks prior, you know, half naked on a bed. So and
S3: she’s referred to as bony,
S2: bony ass.
S1: Her bony us comes up twice.
S3: There is the scene when she’s like she’s broke her leg and she’s at the hospital and she’s wearing like a negligee with all the doctors and people around. But it’s almost goofy, like she actually isn’t that sexy. And in the same sense that when as you’re saying in that scene, when Jack Trainer is coming over and she’s trying to make herself look sexy, but it isn’t working, even though she’s a very attractive woman, but it just doesn’t work well.
S2: But it’s even how she talks about saying she’s, you know, let’s merge. And she’s yeah, she’s she’s into an offer. I think, you know, it’s just it’s so put on right now. I think the interesting thing about Tess is like she gradually evolves with the hair and the makeup and the shoulder pads remains the shoulder pads. You’ve got to love the 80s in so many ways. But I also think that’s why they put all the buttons in the sex scene between Jack and Test to show that she wasn’t in a negligee. She was you know, she was in a buttoned down blouse.
S3: That makes me think to a little bit of this idea of like someone who was just naturally good at something and someone who’s to a certain extent, like was born into it. The Sigourney Weaver character, she’s good at her job like that. They’d never suggest that she’s stupid. But it’s like, OK, she went to the right school. She’s from a wealthy family, like she got into it. Whereas the test character clearly has this, like, innate thing in her that the Sigourney Weaver character can never have those types of ideas because she just doesn’t have it.
S2: Yes. And it’s it goes back to the scrappiness and the hustle. Right. She has to work so hard. She has to read everything. She has to pay attention. Whereas, you know, people just assume someone with the right upbringing and the right station can come in and claim the idea. I mean, the fact that Kathryn stormed into a boardroom on a deal she knows nothing about the day she gets back from her miserable skiing trip or she didn’t get proposed to and she broke some sort of limb. I mean, the gumption I mean, that’s the word that Trask uses for tests at the end. But I really think if you look at Catherine as a try hard, it’s so obvious that she’s she’s resting on her station versus, you
S1: know, although if there’s one indelible image from the movie, it’s that one right where she bursts in through the door and she’s in the doorway in her red power suit. And she’s just, you know, screaming at her secretary like that. Is that the single best single frame of the movie
S2: and when she feigns being lightheaded, when she doesn’t know the answer to something at all? You know, and everyone has to give her a seat and fawn all over her. And it’s a savage move, if you think about it. It totally changed the tempo of everything in that meeting and the fact that she didn’t fight. So interesting that she just got up and left because that’s what she thought she had to do.
S3: There’s always that part of her that feels like she’s a fraud. And then in that moment, someone literally is telling her you are a fraud and she’s exposed. The only thing she can do is flee, even though obviously in reality, like she’s not a fraud in terms of it being her idea.
S1: I do think Melanie Griffith is the only person who actually acted in this movie like everyone else was kind of just doing the the standard, you know, comic roles that they were cast. As you know, you get, you know, Oliver Platt or Harrison Ford doing Cary Grant or Sigourney Weaver doing her whole comic thing, which, you know, she can we’ve seen her in, like Galaxy Quest. She’s awesome at that kind of stuff.
S2: But don’t forget Kevin Spacey
S1: and Kevin Spacey. Yeah. Just completely hamming it up to, like, turning the dial to 14 and doing the coke of the arbitrageur. And then Melanie Griffith is playing a really fleshed out, conflicted, internally conflicted character who’s being pulled in a bunch of different directions, doesn’t really understand what she’s getting herself into is never that particularly sure of herself, knows that she wants to try but doesn’t know how to get where she’s going. She often feels or felt to me like she was in a different movie from the rest of them. She wasn’t in the comedy that the rest of them were. And then she was in some kind of like kitchen sink tragedy or, you know, verité movie. And I don’t know how deliberate that was on Mike Nichols part, but it definitely stood out.
S2: Well, the interesting thing there is that this movie came out the year that Mike Nichols married Diane Sawyer. And obviously my 10 year old self didn’t know this. My current self does. And I don’t know, I was reaching, but I was like, he here he is married to such a strong woman coming up in a business that was known for Cronkite and in all sorts of interesting men. I mean, men hosted the evening news. It was never a woman. So I think that for tests showing her between those two worlds, that to me was the tension of all of it. It’s like you have to be one person when you’re in Staten Island. You have to put on that. You are another person in Manhattan. But I agree. I think they made it so apparently a challenge for her that she’s the only one really doing the work, that everybody else just sort of fell upon it.
S1: On which note, Jolie, thank you. Thank you for coming on. Slate money goes to the movies. It was a pleasure to rent this thing on my Apple TV. I thank you for forcing me to do so. It was a good choice, I have to say. And we all love the movie and it’s a good movie, right? Like this is definitely one we really
S2: love, love, love, love,
S1: love the movie.