Tootsie is a 1982 American romantic comedy film directed by Sydney Pollack and starring Dustin Hoffman. Its supporting cast includes Pollack, Jessica Lange, Teri Garr, Dabney Coleman, Bill Murray, Charles Durning, George Gaynes, Geena Davis, and Doris Belack. The film tells the story of a talented but volatile actor whose reputation for being difficult forces him to adopt a new identity as a woman to land a job. The film was adapted by Larry Gelbart, Barry Levinson, Elaine May and Murray Schisgal from a story by Gelbart and Don McGuire.
|Directed by||Sydney Pollack|
|Produced by||Charles Evans|
Ronald L. Schwary
|Screenplay by||Larry Gelbart|
Barry Levinson (uncredited)
Elaine May (uncredited)
|Story by||Don McGuire|
|Music by||Dave Grusin|
|Edited by||Fredric Steinkamp|
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
|Box office||$177.2 million|
Tootsie was a major critical and financial success, the second most profitable film of 1982, and was nominated for ten Academy Awards including Best Picture. Lange was the only winner, for Best Supporting Actress. In 1998, the Library of Congress deemed the film "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry. Its theme song, "It Might Be You", performed by Stephen Bishop, was a Top 40 hit in the United States.
Michael Dorsey is a respected actor, but nobody in New York City wants to hire him because he is a perfectionist and difficult to work with. He makes ends meet by working as a server in a restaurant and teaching acting classes. After many months without an acting job, Michael hears of an opening on the popular daytime soap opera Southwest General from his friend and acting student Sandy Lester, who tries out for the role of hospital administrator Emily Kimberly. In desperation, he impersonates a woman, auditioning as "Dorothy Michaels", and gets the part. Michael takes the job as a way to raise $8,000 to produce a play by his roommate Jeff Slater, which will star himself and Sandy. Michael plays Emily as a feisty feminist, which surprises the other actors and the crew, who expected her to be (as written) another swooning female. His character quickly becomes a national sensation.
When Sandy catches Michael in her bedroom half undressed because he wants to try on her clothes for ideas for Dorothy's wardrobe, he covers up by claiming he wants to have sex with her. Exacerbating matters further, he is attracted to one of his co-stars, Julie Nichols, a single mother in an unhealthy relationship with the show's amoral, sexist director, Ron Carlisle. At a party, when Michael (as himself) approaches Julie with a pick-up line to which she had previously told Dorothy she would be receptive, she throws a drink in his face. Later, as Dorothy, when he makes tentative advances, Julie—having just ended her relationship with Ron per Dorothy's advice—makes it known that she is not a lesbian.
Meanwhile, Dorothy has her own admirers to contend with: older cast member John Van Horn and Julie's widowed father, Les. Les proposes marriage, insisting that Dorothy think about it before answering. When Michael returns home, he finds John, who almost forces himself on Dorothy until Jeff walks in on them. A few minutes later, Sandy arrives, asking why he hasn't answered her calls. Michael admits he's in love with another woman, and Sandy screams and breaks up with him.
The tipping point comes when, due to Dorothy's popularity, the show's producers want to extend her contract for another year. Michael extricates himself when a technical problem forces the cast to perform live by improvising a revelation about Emily: that she is actually Edward, Emily's twin brother who took her place to avenge her. This allows everybody a way out, but Julie is so outraged at Michael's deception that she punches him in the groin once the cameras have stopped rolling and storms off.
Some weeks later, Michael is moving forward with producing Jeff's play. He returns Les's engagement ring, and Les says, "The only reason you're still living is because I never kissed you." Despite his anger, Les admits that Michael was good company as Dorothy, and Michael buys him a beer.
Michael later waits for Julie outside the studio. She is reluctant to talk to him, but he tells her that he and her father played pool and had a good time. She finally admits she misses Dorothy. Michael tells her, "I was a better man with you as a woman than I ever was with a woman as a man." Julie forgives him and they walk down the street together, engaged in conversation.
- Dustin Hoffman as Michael Dorsey, an out-of-work actor
- Jessica Lange as Julie Nichols, an actress
- Teri Garr as Sandy Lester, an actress
- Dabney Coleman as Ron Carlisle, the director
- Doris Belack as Rita Marshall, the producer
- Charles Durning as Leslie "Les" Nichols, Julie's father
- Bill Murray as Jeff Slater, a playwright and Michael's roommate
- Sydney Pollack as George Fields, Michael's agent
- George Gaynes as John Van Horn, a soap opera actor
- Geena Davis as April Page, a soap opera actress
- Lynne Thigpen as Jo, a production aide
- Ellen Foley as Jacqui, a production aide
- Anne Shropshire as Mrs. Crawley, Julie's babysitter
- Amy Lawrence as Amy, Julie's daughter
- Susan Egbert as Diane, Jeff's girlfriend
- Christine Ebersole as Linda, an actress at Michael's birthday party
In the 1970s, fashion company executive Charles Evans decided to get into filmmaking. It was an industry his brother, Robert Evans, was successful in as an actor, producer, and studio executive. Evans told the Los Angeles Times in 1995 that he got into producing "because I enjoy movies very much. I have the time to do it. And I believe if done wisely, it can be a profitable business." His first foray into film production was a massive success. In the early 1970s Don McGuire had written a play, Would I Lie to You?, about an unemployed male actor who cross-dresses to get jobs. It was shopped around Hollywood for several years until it came to the attention of comedian and actor Buddy Hackett in 1978. Interested in playing the talent agent, Hackett showed Evans the script. Evans purchased an option on the play. Delays in the film's production forced Evans to renew the option once or twice, but in 1979, he co-wrote a screenplay based on the play with director Dick Richards and screenwriter Bob Kaufman. A few months into the process, Richards showed it to Dustin Hoffman, his partner in a company that bought and developed properties for development into films. Hoffman wanted complete creative control, and Evans agreed to remove himself from screenwriting tasks, instead becoming a producer of the film, which was renamed Tootsie. Before Hoffman officially got involved, his role was offered to Peter Sellers and Michael Caine.
The film remained in development for another year as producers waited for a revised script. As pre-production began, the film ran into additional delays when Richards quit as director due to "creative differences". He became a producer instead, and Hal Ashby took over as director. Columbia Pictures then forced Ashby to quit because of the threat of legal action if his post-production commitments on Lookin' to Get Out were not fulfilled. In November 1981, Sydney Pollack signed on to the film as director and producer at Columbia's suggestion.
It was Hoffman's idea that Pollack play Michael's agent, George Fields, a role written for Dabney Coleman. Pollack resisted the idea, but Hoffman eventually convinced him; it was Pollack's first acting work in years. Pollack still wanted to keep Coleman on board and cast him as the sexist, arrogant soap opera director Ron Carlisle.
To prepare for his role, Hoffman watched the film La Cage aux Folles several times. He also visited the set of General Hospital for research, and conducted extensive makeup tests. In an interview for the American Film Institute, Hoffman said he was shocked that although he could be made up to appear as a credible woman, he would never be a beautiful one, and that he had an epiphany when he realized that although he found this woman interesting, he would not have spoken to her at a party because she was not beautiful and that as a result he had missed out on many conversations with interesting women. He concluded that he had never regarded Tootsie as a comedy.
Scenes set in the New York City Russian Tea Room were filmed in the actual restaurant, with additional scenes shot in Central Park and in front of Bloomingdale's. Scenes were also filmed in Hurley, New York, and at the National Video Studios in New York City. Additional filming took place in Fort Lee, New Jersey.
Tootsie opened in 943 theatres in the United States and Canada and grossed $5,540,470 in its opening weekend. After 115 days, it surpassed Close Encounters of the Third Kind as Columbia's biggest domestic hit of all time. Its final gross in the United States and Canada was $177,200,000, making it the second-highest-grossing movie of 1982 after E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. Box Office Mojo estimates that the film sold over 56.9 million tickets in the US.
The film was the highest-grossing film in Germany with a gross of $19 million.
Roger Ebert praised the film, giving it 4 out of 4 stars and observing:
Tootsie is the kind of Movie with a capital M that they used to make in the 1940s, when they weren't afraid to mix up absurdity with seriousness, social comment with farce, and a little heartfelt tenderness right in there with the laughs. This movie gets you coming and going...The movie also manages to make some lighthearted but well-aimed observations about sexism. It also pokes satirical fun at soap operas, New York show business agents and the Manhattan social pecking order.
On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a 90% approval rating, based on 49 reviews, with an average rating of 7.69/10. The critical consensus reads, "Tootsie doesn't squander its high-concept comedy premise with fine dialogue and sympathetic treatment of the characters".
In 2011, ABC aired a primetime special, Best in Film: The Greatest Movies of Our Time, that counted down the best movies chosen by fans based on results of a poll conducted by both ABC and People Weekly Magazine. Tootsie was selected as the No. 5 Best Comedy.
The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:
- 1998: AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies – #62
- 2000: AFI's 100 Years...100 Laughs – #2
- 2007: AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition) – #69
A stage musical of the movie premiered at the Cadillac Palace Theatre in Chicago from September 11 to October 14, 2018 before opening on Broadway in the spring of 2019. The musical has music and lyrics by David Yazbek; Robert Horn wrote the book; Denis Jones choreographed and Scott Ellis directed. Santino Fontana starred as Michael Dorsey. He was joined by Lilli Cooper as Julie Nichols, Sarah Stiles as Sandy Lester, John Behlmann as Max Van Horn, Andy Grotelueschen as Jeff Slater, Julie Halston as Rita Mallory, Tony winner Michael McGrath as Stan Fields and Tony nominee Reg Rogers as Ron Carlisle.
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The film was first released on CED Videodisc in 1983, on VHS and Betamax videocassettes by RCA/Columbia Pictures Home Video in 1985, and on DVD in 2001. These releases were distributed by Columbia Tristar Home Video. The film was also released by The Criterion Collection in a LaserDisc edition in 1992. A special 25th Anniversary edition DVD, released by Sony Pictures, arrived in 2008. In the high-definition era, the film was released on the visually superior Blu-ray Disc format in 2013, albeit at this point in time it was only distributed in selected international territories such as Germany and Japan. The film was released on Blu-ray and DVD as part of The Criterion Collection on December 16, 2014.
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- McPhee, Ryan. " 'Tootsie' Musical, Starring Santino Fontana, Will Play Chicago Before 2019 Broadway Premiere" Playbill, January 24, 2018
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|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Tootsie|
- Tootsie essay  by Brian Scott Mednick at National Film Registry
- Tootsie essay by Daniel Eagan in  America's Film Legacy: The Authoritative Guide to the Landmark Movies in the National Film Registry, A&C Black, 2010 ISBN 0826429777, pages 780-781
- Tootsie at IMDb
- Tootsie at the TCM Movie Database
- Tootsie at Box Office Mojo
- Tootsie at Rotten Tomatoes
- The 25th Anniversary Tootsie by Billy Mernit
- Tootsie: One Great Dame an essay by Michael Sragow at the Criterion Collection