I have a head for business and a bod for sin.

Working Girl cast

Working Girl (1988)

Don’t expect anything enlightened… this blog post is just an excuse to watch a fun 80s flick and drink at the same time 🙂 I’ve always liked this underdog tale, with a killer Carly Simon opening song, not one but two strong female leads, and some great Harrison Ford eye candy. The poufy blown-out hair and giant shoulder pads are awesome as well.

Melanie Griffith and Joan Cusack

Melanie Griffith stars as working-class go-getter Tess McGill, who is determinedly making her way through night school, various self-improvement classes, a scumbag boyfriend, and multiple jobs with sleazy male bosses. She thinks she has finally found a mentor and female role model in her new boss Katharine Parker (Sigourney Weaver), but Parker tries to pass off Tess’ idea as her own while insincerely claiming that their work environment is a “two-way street”. When Parker breaks her leg skiing and is laid up, Tess pretends to be the boss instead of the secretary, finagling her way into various meetings (including crashing a wedding!) and eventually landing a deal with the help of Jack Trainer (Harrison Ford). At the last minute, Parker crashes in and interrupts the acquisition that’s about to go down, and Tess leaves in shame. But not to worry, Tess gets her due afterwards when Trainer stands by her side and the truth of Parker’s deception is revealed.

Melanie Griffith and Harrison Ford

My favorite part is at the end when Tess shows up for her first day at Trask Industries, having been hired by Trask after proving that she was the mastermind behind the whole deal and not the manipulative Parker. Tess mistakenly assumes that her new role is once again as secretary and not manager. Then she is escorted into her corner office… with her own secretary! Whaaaaat!? Victory for the working girl! Cue inspiring 80s music.

Cheesy in parts, but solid performances all around, especially Weaver, who plays the bitch-we-love-to-hate so well, and Ford, whose character gets to show some vulnerability (“I don’t wanna get buried under a little piece of tape”) and humor, which makes him likable. Griffith carries the movie well, despite the fact that her character’s idea of professionalism is to speak in a slightly lower, sultrier tone of voice. And don’t forget the stellar supporting performances by Joan Cusack, Kevin Spacey, Olympia Dukakis, and Alec Baldwin. I love Baldwin’s comment when he sees Tess in her new business attire: “What, d’ja have to go to traffic court or somethin’?”

Melanie Griffith and Harrison Ford

Finally, there’s a nice contrast between Baldwin (the scumbag ex), who only buys Tess trashy lingerie, while nice-guy Trainer buys her a leather briefcase and a giant metal lunchbox. Trainer is interested in Tess’ future and career, while the ex only sees her as a sex object. It’s subtle and well-written. Time for drinksssss…

Cocktail #1: Twentieth Century

In honor of all the working women. Courtesy of Speakeasy Cocktails.

  • 1 & 1/2 oz gin
  • 3/4 oz Lillet
  • 1/2 oz creme de cacao
  • 3/4 oz fresh lemon juice
  • garnish: lemon peel

Shake all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Strain into a coupe glass and add garnish.

Cocktail #2: Working Girl

I wanted something with a pink, girlish blush and a solid bourbon core, just like our protagonist. Plus I had strawberries and pineapple juice on hand 🙂

  • 1 & 1/2 oz bourbon
  • 1 oz pineapple juice
  • 1/4 cup chopped strawberries
  • 3/4 oz fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 oz simple syrup
  • garnish: whole strawberry

Muddle strawberries and simple syrup in an empty cocktail shaker. Shake with ice and remaining ingredients. Strain into coupe glass and add garnish.

Harrison Ford