9 to 5 (film)

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9 to 5
9 to 5 moviep.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byColin Higgins
Produced byBruce Gilbert
Written by
Music byCharles Fox
CinematographyReynaldo Villalobos
Edited byPembroke J. Herring
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release date
  • December 19, 1980 (1980-12-19)
Running time
110 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$10 million[1]
Box office$103.3 million[2]

9 to 5 (listed in the opening credits as Nine to Five) is a 1980 American comedy film produced by Bruce Gilbert, story by Patricia Resnick, screenplay by Resnick and Colin Higgins, and directed by Higgins. It stars Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, and Dolly Parton as three working women who live out their fantasies of getting even with, and their overthrow of, the company's autocratic, "sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot" boss, played by Dabney Coleman.

The film grossed over $103.9 million[2] and is the 20th highest-grossing comedy film.[3] As a star vehicle for Parton—already established as a successful singer, musician and songwriter—it launched her permanently into mainstream popular culture. A television series of the same name based on the film ran for five seasons, and a musical version of the film (also titled 9 to 5), with new songs written by Parton, opened on Broadway on April 30, 2009.

9 to 5 is number 74 on the American Film Institute's "100 Funniest Movies"[4] and has an 83% approval rating on review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes.[5]


Judy Bernly (Jane Fonda) is forced to find work after her husband, Dick (Lawrence Pressman), runs off with his secretary. Judy finds employment as a secretary at Consolidated Companies. The senior office supervisor, Violet Newstead (Lily Tomlin), introduces Judy to the company and staff, including mail room clerk Eddie, alcoholic Margaret Foster, the opportunistic boss Franklin Hart, Jr. (Dabney Coleman), and Roz Keith (Elizabeth Wilson), Hart's executive assistant. Violet reveals to Judy that Hart is supposedly involved with his buxom secretary, Doralee Rhodes (Dolly Parton). Hart exploits and mistreats his female subordinates, with backstabbing and sexist remarks. He takes credit for Violet's ideas, cruelly yells at and threatens to fire Judy on her first day after an equipment malfunction and sexually harasses Doralee, spreading rumors about an affair that never happened.

When Violet discovers that a promotion she was hoping to receive was instead given to a man because of sexist hiring practices, she confronts Hart about it, as well as the rumors about Doralee (who enters Hart's office just in time to hear, and now realizes why she has become unpopular with the other secretaries). Violet storms off, stating that she needs a drink. Doralee takes Hart to task over his transgressions, informing him that she keeps a gun in her purse and will "turn him from a rooster to a hen with one shot" if his sexist behavior continues. She then also leaves, stating that she needs a drink.

Judy, upset over the firing of Maria, a dedicated employee (due to speculating about upper management's salaries, overheard by Roz, who had been eavesdropping in the ladies' room), joins Violet and Doralee in storming out of the office, and the three women drown their sorrows at the local bar before retiring to Doralee's house to smoke a joint given to Violet by her teenage son. While there, the beginning of their friendship forms, and they share fantasies of getting revenge on Mr. Hart: Judy wants to hunt him down like an animal in a classic mobster scenario, Doralee wants to rope him like a steer in a Western scenario, and Violet wants to poison him in a twisted Snow White-style scenario.

The following day, a mix-up leads Violet to accidentally spike Hart's coffee with rat poison. However, before he can drink the tainted coffee, Hart falls out of his desk chair and hits his head on the credenza desk, which knocks him out cold. On hearing he has been rushed to the hospital, Violet, thinking he is sick from the accidental poisoning, rushes to the hospital with Judy and Doralee in tow. At the hospital, Hart, who has regained consciousness, leaves on his own without being seen, and the three mistake a dead police witness for their boss, steal the dead body (to prevent an autopsy), stash it in the trunk, and drive off. Soon they discover they've stolen the wrong body, so they smuggle it back into the hospital.

Hart turns up alive the next morning, much to the shock of Violet, Doralee, and Judy. During a break in the ladies' room, the three speculate on what could have happened, but ultimately decide to consider themselves lucky and simply forget the whole matter. However, Roz, hiding in one of the stalls, overhears them and relates the conversation to Hart. He confronts Doralee about the hospital incident and demands that she spend the night at his house, or he'll have all three of them prosecuted for attempted murder.

The three kidnap him and bring him to his Tudor-style mansion, keeping him prisoner in his bedroom while they find a way to blackmail him. The three women discover an embezzlement scheme and must keep Hart tied up at home while they collect evidence on it.

The women use Hart's absence to effect numerous changes around the office, in his name, including flexible work hours, equal pay for male and female employees, a job-sharing program, and even an onsite daycare center for employees with children. Hart is so disliked around the office by male and female employees alike that the only person to question his absence is Roz, whom Violet sends away to France for a multi-week language training seminar.

Meanwhile, as Judy is guarding Hart, her ex-husband, Dick, comes to ask her to take him back. She appears to consider the prospect, but they are interrupted by a noise upstairs. Judy goes to investigate and finds Hart trying to escape from the makeshift security device they made to restrain him and a short scuffle ensues. Judy gets the upper hand and ties Hart up again, but Dick, having heard the commotion, comes upstairs and sees Hart tied up. Disgusted, Dick rescinds his offer of reconciliation, but Judy had already decided not to take him back and forcefully throws him out. Hart's adoring wife Missy (Marian Mercer) returns from vacation early, putting the women's plan in jeopardy. Hart manages to break free and return the stolen items back to the warehouse. Then he escorts the women to the office at gunpoint. Hart is appalled by the changes which have been made in his absence, but receives an unexpected visit from Russell Tinsworthy (Sterling Hayden), the company chairman, who has come to congratulate Hart for increases in productivity and numerous other initiatives (however, he wants the equal pay eliminated). Margaret Foster is no longer an alcoholic thanks to the company's alcohol rehab program, and Maria is back with the company on a part-time basis and sharing her workload with another employee. Tinsworthy is so impressed that he recruits Hart to work at Consolidated's Brazilian operation for the next few years. Roz returns from her training and is stunned to discover Violet, Judy, and Doralee celebrating in Hart's office.

In the epilogue, it is revealed that Violet finally got promoted to Hart's job; Judy falls in love with and marries a Xerox representative; Doralee quits Consolidated and becomes a country and western singer; and Hart is abducted by Amazons in the Brazilian jungle and is never heard from again.


  • Jane Fonda as Judy Bernly, the new woman who is forced to find work after her husband has an affair with his secretary, a younger woman named Liza. She becomes friends with Violet and Doralee.
  • Lily Tomlin as Violet Newstead, a widow with four kids who has been working at the company for twelve years. She is very knowledgeable about the company, and was the one who trained Hart. Despite her knowledge, she is continually passed over for promotions, due to Hart's sexist attitudes. She is Judy's best friend and helped train her.
  • Dolly Parton as Doralee Rhodes, a secretary who is presumed to be sleeping with Hart, despite the fact that she has refused his advances. Because of this, she is looked down on by most of the other women in the office, but this changes after she becomes friends with Violet and Judy.
  • Dabney Coleman as Franklin M. Hart Jr., the strict, overly-tight, lying boss and antagonist of the movie who fires people for no reason and also spread the false rumor that Doralee was sleeping with him. At the end of the film, he is reassigned to Brazil.
  • Sterling Hayden as Russell Tinsworthy, Consolidated's chairman of the board who likes the new office layout that Violet and the others set up.
  • Elizabeth Wilson as Roz Keith, Hart's administrative assistant who is constantly eavesdropping and tattling.
  • Henry Jones as Mr. Hinkle, Consolidated's president.
  • Lawrence Pressman as Dick Bernly, Judy's ex-husband.
  • Marian Mercer as Missy Hart, Hart's sweet natured wife who is oblivious to the fact that he has a one-sided thing for Doralee.
  • Ren Woods as Barbara, one of Judy and Violet's co-workers.
  • Norma Donaldson as Betty, another co-worker.
  • Roxanna Bonilla-Giannini as Maria Delgado, a friend of Judy's who was fired due to Roz's snitching to Hart, but was later reinstated by one of the three women, under Hart's name.
  • Peggy Pope as Margaret Foster, an alcoholic secretary (sometimes referred to by other characters as "the old lush") whose catchphrase is "atta girl!"
  • Ray Vitte as Eddie Smith, a man who works in the mail room. When he meets Judy on her first day, he says, "What? How am I going to get out of this mail room prison if they keep hiring people from the outside? Lady, you're gonna hate it here."
  • Jeffrey Douglas Thomas as Dwayne Rhodes, Doralee's supportive husband. A musician, he is often performing at various gigs, thus allowing Doralee a good deal of free time to get into mischief with Judy and Violet.


The film was based on an idea by Jane Fonda, who had recently formed her own production company, IPC. Fonda:

My ideas for films always come from things that I hear and perceive in my daily life ... A very old friend of mine had started an organization in Boston called "Nine To Five", which was an association of women office workers. I heard them talking about their work and they had some great stories. And I've always been attracted to those 1940s films with three female stars.[6]

Fonda says the film was at first going to be a drama, but "any way we did it, it seemed too preachy, too much of a feminist line. I'd wanted to work with Lily [Tomlin] for some time, and it suddenly occurred to [her producing partner] Bruce and me that we should make it a comedy."[6] Patricia Resnick wrote the first draft drama, and Fonda cast herself, Lily Tomlin, and Dolly Parton in the leads, the latter in her first film role.[7] Then Colin Higgins came on board to direct and rewrite the script. Part of his job was to make room for all three in the script. Higgins says Jane Fonda was a very encouraging producer, who allowed him to push back production while the script was being rewritten.[8][9]

"He's a very nice, quiet, low-key guy", said Parton of Higgins. "I don't know what I would have done if I'd had one of those mean directors on my first film."[7]

Higgins admitted "he expected some tension", from working with three stars, "but they were totally professional, great fun and a joy to work with. I just wish everything would be as easy."[10]

"It remains a 'labour film', but I hope of a new kind, different from the Grapes of Wrath or Salt of the Earth", says Fonda. "We took out a lot of stuff that was filmed, even stuff the director, Colin Higgins, thought worked but which I asked to have taken out. I'm just super-sensitive to anything that smacks of the soapbox or lecturing the audience".[6]

Fonda says she did a deal of research, focusing on women who had begun work late in life due to divorce or being widowed.

What I found was that secretaries know the work they do is important, is skilled, but they also know they're not treated with respect. They call themselves "office wives". They have to put gas in the boss's car, get his coffee, buy the presents for his wife and mistress. So when we came to do the film, we said to Colin [Higgins], OK, what you have to do is write a screenplay which shows you can run an office without a boss, but you can't run an office without the secretaries![6]

Filming locations[edit]

The home of Franklin Hart is located at 10431 Bellagio Road in Bel Air, Los Angeles. According to commentary included in the DVD release of the film, the home was, at the time, owned by the Chandler family, publishers of the Los Angeles Times. The Consolidated offices were presumably in the Pacific Financial Center located at 800 W 6th Street, at South Flower Street in Los Angeles. Although the story appears to be set in Los Angeles, the opening credit montage, set to the title song, is mostly composed of shots from downtown San Francisco. These shots include an electric MUNI bus, the Market Street clock and a brief glimpse of the San Francisco twins, Marian and Vivian Brown.

Theme song[edit]

The film's theme song, "9 to 5", written and recorded by Parton, became one of her biggest hits of the decade. While filming the 9 to 5 movie, Parton found she could use her long acrylic fingernails to simulate the sound of a typewriter. She wrote the song on set by clicking her nails together and forming the beat. The song went to number one for two weeks on the Billboard Hot 100, as well as the U.S. country singles charts, and was nominated for several awards, including the Academy Award for Best Song. It won the 1981 People's Choice Award for "Favorite Motion Picture Song", and two 1982 Grammy Awards: for "Country Song of the Year" and "Female Country Vocal of the Year" (it was nominated for four Grammys). Additionally, it was certified platinum by the RIAA.

At the same time, newcomer Sheena Easton was enjoying her first major hit in the UK with a song also titled "9 to 5". With the success of Parton's song, and to avoid confusion, Easton's record company renamed her recording "Morning Train (9 to 5)" for its North American release.


Roger Ebert gave the film 3 stars out of 4 and called it "pleasant entertainment, and I liked it, despite its uneven qualities and a plot that's almost too preposterous for the material." Ebert singled out Dolly Parton as "a natural-born movie star" who "contains so much energy, so much life and unstudied natural exuberance that watching her do anything in this movie is a pleasure."[11] Vincent Canby of The New York Times was less enthused, writing, "It's clearly a movie that began as someone's bright idea, which then went into production before anyone had time to give it a well-defined personality."[12] Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune gave the film 2.5 stars out of 4 and wrote, "The most pleasant surprise is the appearance of Dolly Parton, who with this one film establishes herself as a thoroughly engaging movie star. The biggest disappointment is that this Jane Fonda comedy about a trio of secretaries out to get their boss doesn't have more bite ... Instead of getting darker and darker, 'Nine to Five' gets lighter and lighter until it loses most of the energy it established so well early on."[13] Variety stated, "Although it can probably be argued that Patricia Resnick and director Colin Higgins' script at times borders on the inane, the bottom line is that this picture is a lot of fun."[14] Kevin Thomas of the Los Angeles Times wrote that the film "appears to be an audience pleaser that never misses an intended laugh. However, it strays so far from reality for so long that it threatens to become mired in overly complicated silliness and to lose sight of the serious satirical points it wants to make. Happily, it does pull together for a finish that's as strong as it is funny."[15] Gary Arnold of The Washington Post thought the film "runs a merely weak comic premise into the ground with coarse, laborious execution." Arnold thought that Dolly Parton was the film's "only reassuring aspect," as she seemed "an instantly likable natural on the movie screen, too."[16] David Ansen of Newsweek called the film "a disappointment ... It's not wild or dark enough to qualify as a truly disturbing farce and it's too fanciful and silly to succeed as realistic satire. Politically and esthetically, it's harmless—a mildly amusing romp that tends to get swallowed up by its own overly intricate plot."[17]

The film holds a score of 83% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 35 reviews.[18]

Television series[edit]

The film inspired a sitcom version which aired from 1982 to 1983 and from 1986 to 1988. The show, which aired on ABC (1982–83) and in first run syndication (1986–88), featured Parton's younger sister, Rachel Dennison, in Parton's role, and Rita Moreno and Valerie Curtin took over Tomlin and Fonda's roles, respectively. In the second version of the show, Sally Struthers replaced Moreno. A total of 85 episodes were filmed.

2009 Broadway musical[edit]

In an interview aired September 30, 2005 on Larry King Live, Parton revealed that she was writing the songs for a musical stage adaptation of the film.[19] A private reading of the musical took place on January 19, 2007.[20] Further private presentations were held in New York City in summer 2007.

In early March 2008, Center Theatre Group artistic director Michael Ritchie announced that 9 to 5 would have its pre-Broadway run at the Center's Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles beginning September 21, 2008, with Allison Janney starring as Violet, joined by Stephanie J. Block as Judy, Megan Hilty as Doralee, and Marc Kudisch as Franklin Hart, Jr. The book for 9 to 5: The Musical was written by Patricia Resnick, who co-authored the film. Andy Blankenbuehler choreographed the show, and Joe Mantello directed.[21]

According to playbill.com, the musical opened on Broadway at the Marquis Theatre in previews on April 7, 2009, and officially on April 30, 2009.[22] However, due to low ticket sales and gross, the production closed on September 6, 2009. A national tour began in September 2010.

Possible sequel[edit]

In the 1980s, Universal developed a sequel with Colin Higgins. Tom Mankiewicz worked on it for a while and says that while Dolly Parton was enthusiastic, Jane Fonda was not and Higgins' heart was not in it.[23]

In a TV interview broadcast on BBC1 in the UK in 2005, the movie's stars Fonda, Tomlin, and Dolly Parton all expressed interest in starring in a sequel. Fonda said if the right script was written she would definitely do it, suggesting a suitable name for a 21st-century sequel would be 24/7. Parton suggested they had better hurry up before they reach retirement age. In the DVD commentary, the three reiterate their enthusiasm; Fonda suggests a sequel should cover outsourcing and they agree Hart would have to return as their nemesis.

In a 2018 interview, Dolly Parton announced that a sequel is in the works to bring the story into a modern-day setting.[24] In July 2018, Jane Fonda also confirmed that a sequel was in the works with herself, Tomlin and Parton returning to their roles as mentors to a new generation of women. Fonda revealed that she is also an executive producer on the project.[25] Rashida Jones and Pat Resnick have been attached to write a script.[26] On October 23, 2018, Fonda reiterated news about the development of a sequel on GMA Day.


The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Aubrey Solomon, Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History, Scarecrow Press, 1989 p259
  2. ^ a b "9 to 5 at boxofficemojo.com". Archived from the original on April 5, 2014. Retrieved March 24, 2011.
  3. ^ "Hollywood.com's Highest Grossing Comedy Films of All Time List". Archived from the original on February 5, 2013. Retrieved March 24, 2011.
  4. ^ American Film Institute's 100 Years 100 Laughs – America's Funniest Movies AFI
  5. ^ "9 to 5 on rottentomatoes.com". Archived from the original on August 12, 2013. Retrieved August 9, 2012.
  6. ^ a b c d "LIFE STYLE". The Canberra Times. National Library of Australia. February 6, 1981. p. 17. Retrieved February 28, 2015.
  7. ^ a b "Dolly Parton: first footlights, now films". The Australian Women's Weekly. National Library of Australia. May 28, 1980. p. 145 Supplement: FREE Your TV Magazine. Retrieved February 28, 2015.
  8. ^ HIGGINS: WRITER-DIRECTOR ON HOT STREAK Goldstein, Patrick. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] January 24, 1981: b15.
  9. ^ '9 to 5' a real grind for writer Beck, Marilyn. Chicago Tribune (1963-Current file) [Chicago, Ill] October 23, 1979: a12.
  10. ^ "John Michael Howson's Hollywood". The Australian Women's Weekly. National Library of Australia. March 25, 1981. p. 47 Supplement: TV WORLD. Retrieved February 28, 2015.
  11. ^ Ebert, Roger. "Nine To Five". RogerEbert.com. Retrieved April 24, 2019.
  12. ^ Canby, Vincent (December 19, 1980). "Screen: 'Nine to Five,' Office Comedy". The New York Times. C20.
  13. ^ Siskel, Gene (December 19, 1980). "'Nine to Five': Sugar, no spice". Chicago Tribune. Section 2, p. 1.
  14. ^ "Film Reviews: Nine To Five". Variety. December 17, 1980. 17.
  15. ^ Thomas, Kevin (December 19, 1980). "Scoring Points in the '9 to 5' Game". Los Angeles Times. Part VI, p. 20.
  16. ^ Arnold, Gary (December 19, 1980). "Squandered Stars In 'Nine to Five'". The Washington Post. E1, E10.
  17. ^ Ansen, David (December 22, 1980). "Get the Boss". Newsweek. 72.
  18. ^ "9 to 5". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved April 24, 2019.
  19. ^ "Dolly Parton's Anniversary; Walter Cronkite on Peter Jennings". Larry King Live transcript. CNN.com. September 30, 2005. Archived from the original on September 11, 2013. Retrieved March 24, 2011.
  20. ^ Kenneth Jones (January 11, 2007). "Ullman, Ripley, Hilty, Kudisch, Lewis Will Read Nine to Five Musical". playbill.com. Archived from the original on December 6, 2008. Retrieved March 24, 2011.
  21. ^ "CTG'S 42nd Ahmanson Theatre Season Announced". Center Theater Group. Archived from the original on February 29, 2012. Retrieved March 24, 2011.
  22. ^ Kenneth Jones (July 15, 2008). "Hello, Dolly! 9 to 5 Books Broadway's Marquis; Full Casting Announced". playbill.com. Archived from the original on May 6, 2009. Retrieved March 24, 2011.
  23. ^ Tom Mankiewicz, My Life as a Mankiewicz: An Insider's Journey Through Hollywood (with Robert Crane) University Press of Kentucky 2012 p 278
  24. ^ Zach Seemayer (March 1, 2018). "Dolly Parton Says Original '9 to 5' Cast Is All in for a Sequel: 'We'd Love to Do It'". etonline.com. Retrieved March 11, 2018.
  25. ^ Michael O'Connell (July 25, 2018). "Jane Fonda says '9 to 5' Sequel is Moving Forward with Original Cast". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved July 25, 2018.
  26. ^ Mike Fleming Jr (February 28, 2018). "'9 To 5' Reboot Punching In: Rashida Jones To Script With Pat Resnick; Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin All Circling". Hollywood Deadline. Retrieved January 6, 2019.
  27. ^ "AFI's 100 Years...100 Laughs" (PDF). American Film Institute. Retrieved August 20, 2016.
  28. ^ "AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs" (PDF). American Film Institute. Retrieved August 20, 2016.
  29. ^ "AFI's 100 Years...100 Cheers Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved August 20, 2016.

External links[edit]