9 to 5 (film)

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 overthrowing of the company's autocratic, "sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot" boss, played by Dabney Coleman.

9 to 5
9 to 5 moviep.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byColin Higgins
Produced byBruce Gilbert
Screenplay byColin Higgins
Patricia Resnick
Story byPatricia Resnick
StarringJane Fonda
Lily Tomlin
Dolly Parton
Dabney Coleman
Elizabeth Wilson
Sterling Hayden
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]

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 82% approval rating on review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes.[5]


Reserved, prudish housewife Judy Bernly (Jane Fonda) is forced to find work after her husband, Dick (Lawrence Pressman), leaves her for his secretary. She is hired as a secretary at Consolidated Companies, under the eye of sharp-tongued senior office supervisor, Violet Newstead (Lily Tomlin). Their narcissistic boss Franklin Hart Jr. (Dabney Coleman) exploits and mistreats his female employees with unfair, sexist remarks, and sexually harasses his personal assistant Doralee Rhodes (Dolly Parton), spreading rumours about an affair that never happened, which causes the other women at the company to dislike and exclude her.

One afternoon after Hart infuriates all three women for different reasons, they take the afternoon off and end up in the same local bar. They get drunk and go to Doralee's house where they smoke marijuana and bond over fantasies of getting revenge on their boss; Violet wishes she could poison his coffee, Judy wishes she could hunt him down and shoot him, and Doralee wishes she could tie him up with a lasso like in an old western movie.

The following day, Hart falls out of his desk chair and hits his head, knocking him unconscious. Violet, who had accidentally put rat poison in his morning coffee, mistakenly believes she has poisoned him, and rushes to the hospital with Judy and Doralee. They mistake a dead police witness for Hart and steal the body to prevent an autopsy from taking place, before smuggling it back into the hospital after they discover they've stolen the wrong corpse.

Hart turns up at work the next morning, much to the shock of Violet, Judy and Doralee. They discuss the previous night's antics in the ladies' restroom and their conversation is overheard by Hart's executive assistant, Roz (Elizabeth Wilson), who then tells him. Hart demands that Doralee spend the night at his house, threatening to have all three of them prosecuted for attempted murder if she does not oblige. They kidnap him (Judy shoots at him but misses and then Doralee ties him up) and, upon taking him back to his home, discover he has been involved in an embezzlement scheme.

The women keep Hart tied up at home while they collect evidence in order to blackmail him into silence. They also 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, and an onsite daycare centre for employees with children. Hart is so disliked around the office that the only person to question his absence is Roz, whom Violet eventually sends away to Paris for a language training seminar.

One night while Judy is staying at Hart's, Dick turns up and asks her to take him back. However, he later discovers Hart tied up and jumps to the wrong conclusion about Judy, leading her to shed her meek ways and throw him out. A few days later, Hart manages to secretly break free and undo the embezzlement, eliminating the leverage that the three women had over him and giving him the upper hand to prosecute them.

Back at the office, although Hart is appalled by the changes that have been made in his absence, an unexpected visit from the company chairman Russell Tinsworthy (Sterling Hayden) reveals that the changes have led to substantial increases in productivity. Tinsworthy is so impressed that he recruits Hart to work at Consolidated's Brazilian operation for the next few years.

A graphic reveals that Violet is later promoted to Hart's job, Judy falls in love with and marries a Xerox representative, Doralee quits Consolidated to become a country and western singer, and Hart is abducted by a tribe of women 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 leaves her for 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 Hart often belittles her and treats her more like a secretary, 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 helps train her.
  • Dolly Parton as Doralee Rhodes, a secretary who is presumed to be sleeping with Hart, even though she refuses 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 Hart Jr., the strict, overly tight, dishonest boss and antagonist of the movie who fires people for no reason and also spreads the false rumor that Doralee is 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, Hart's sycophantic administrative assistant who is constantly eavesdropping and tattling
  • Henry Jones as Hinkle, Consolidated's president
  • Lawrence Pressman as Dick, 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, a friend of Judy's who is fired due to Roz's snitching to Hart, but is later reinstated by one of the three women, under Hart's name
  • Peggy Pope as Margaret, an alcoholic secretary (sometimes referred to by other characters as "the old lush") whose catchphrase is "atta girl!"
  • Richard Stahl as Meade
  • Ray Vitte as Eddie, a man who works in the mail room


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 last 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 locationsEdit

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 fitted with a KFOG 104.5 FM advertisement, the Market Street clock, and a brief glimpse of the San Francisco twins, Marian and Vivian Brown.


Theme songEdit

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 Original 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.


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]

Ronald Reagan wrote in his presidential diary that he and his wife Nancy watched the film on Valentine's Day 1981. He wrote, "Funny—but one scene made me mad. A truly funny scene if the 3 gals had played getting drunk but no they had to get stoned on pot. It was an endorsement of Pot smoking for any young person who sees the picture."[18]

The film holds a score of 82% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 39 reviews.[19] Metacritic gave the film a score of 58 based on 12 reviews, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[20]

Television seriesEdit

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 musicalEdit

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.[21] A private reading of the musical took place on January 19, 2007.[22] 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.[23]

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.[24] However, due to low ticket sales and gross, the production closed on September 6, 2009. A national tour began in September 2010.

Possible sequelEdit

Parton, Tomlin, and Fonda in 2000

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.[25]

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.[26] 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.[27] Rashida Jones and Pat Resnick have been attached to write a script.[28] On October 23, 2018, Fonda reiterated news about the development of a sequel on GMA Day.

On October 30, 2019, Parton announced the sequel had been dropped.[29]


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



See alsoEdit


  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 – The 100 Funniest American Movies Of All Time 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. February 6, 1981. p. 17. Retrieved February 28, 2015 – via National Library of Australia.
  7. ^ a b "Dolly Parton: first footlights, now films". The Australian Women's Weekly. May 28, 1980. p. 145 Supplement: FREE Your TV Magazine. Retrieved February 28, 2015 – via National Library of Australia.
  8. ^ Goldstein, Patrick (January 24, 1981). "HIGGINS: WRITER-DIRECTOR ON HOT STREAK". Los Angeles Times. p. b15.
  9. ^ Beck, Marilyn (October 23, 1979). "'9 to 5' a real grind for writer". Chicago Tribune. p. a12.
  10. ^ "John Michael Howson's Hollywood". The Australian Women's Weekly. March 25, 1981. p. 47 Supplement: TV WORLD. Retrieved February 28, 2015 – via National Library of Australia.
  11. ^ Ebert, Roger. "Nine To Five". RogerEbert.com. Retrieved April 24, 2019.
  12. ^ Canby, Vincent (December 19, 1980). "Screen: 'Nine to Five,' Office Comedy—Revolt of the Women". 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. pp. E1, E10.
  17. ^ Ansen, David (December 22, 1980). "Get the Boss". Newsweek. p. 72.
  18. ^ Reagan, Ronald. "White House Diaries". The Reagan Foundation. Retrieved April 11, 2020.
  19. ^ "9 to 5". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved June 28, 2020.
  20. ^ "9 to 5 reviews". Metacritic.
  21. ^ "Dolly Parton's Anniversary; Walter Cronkite on Peter Jennings". Larry King Live. CNN.com. September 30, 2005. Archived from the original (transcript) on September 11, 2013. Retrieved March 24, 2011.
  22. ^ 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.
  23. ^ "CTG'S 42nd Ahmanson Theatre Season Announced". Center Theater Group. Archived from the original on February 29, 2012. Retrieved March 24, 2011.
  24. ^ 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.
  25. ^ Tom Mankiewicz, My Life as a Mankiewicz: An Insider's Journey Through Hollywood (with Robert Crane) University Press of Kentucky 2012 p 278
  26. ^ 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.
  27. ^ 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.
  28. ^ 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.
  29. ^ Viktoria Ristanovic (October 30, 2019). "JDolly Parton says Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin have 'dropped' the idea of a '9 to 5' sequel". Fox News. Retrieved October 30, 2019.
  30. ^ "AFI's 100 Years...100 Laughs". American Film Institute. Retrieved September 27, 2019.
  31. ^ "AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs" (PDF). American Film Institute. Retrieved August 20, 2016.
  32. ^ "AFI's 100 Years...100 Cheers Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved August 20, 2016.
  33. ^ a b c d "Dolly Parton". Grammy.com. The Recording Academy. Retrieved July 31, 2020.
  34. ^ Betts, Stephen L. (February 28, 2016). "Flashback: See Dolly Parton Sing '9 to 5' at the Oscars". Rolling Stone. Retrieved July 31, 2020.
  35. ^ a b c "Dolly Parton". goldenglobes.com. Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Retrieved July 31, 2020.
  36. ^ Jones, Kenneth (August 24, 2005). "What a Way to Make a Living! Nine to Five Musical Being Developed by Parton and Resnick". Playbill. Retrieved July 31, 2020.

External linksEdit