‘Working Girl’ at 30: Why the classic rom-com is still relevant
Blow out the candles for New York City’s most iconic rom-com.
“Working Girl,” the tale of Tess McGill, a Staten Island gal (played winningly by Oscar nominee Melanie Griffith) with big hair, a big heart and even bigger dreams is turning the big 3-0 — and her hometown is throwing a birthday bash in her honor.
Staten Island Arts, a nonprofit which distributes grants from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, presents a free, interactive screening of the the 1988 Mike Nichols film in the borough’s landmarked St. George Theatre, located 10 minutes from the iconic big orange boat Tess takes to work.
On the milestone birthday, “Working Girl” is newly relevant, Staten Island Arts executive director Elizabeth Bennett tells The Post — “especially in light of the #MeToo movement.”
“When most people think of ‘Working Girl,’ they think of Joan Cusack’s enormous hairdo,” but while the ‘80s fashion and vintage shots of New York City are nostalgic, Bennett is most struck by how, despite that “the way that women are viewed within the context of working in business has made some strides, there’s still a lot of truth in there.”
The historic venue’s ornate lobby will be packed with pop-up, movie-inspired stations including an ‘80s-style “big hair teasing station” staffed by the Electric Hair salon, an assortment of photo booths and a movie poster cutout, and plenty of local merch from vendors such as Staten Island MakerSpace, which will have 3D printed Staten Island Ferry-shaped earrings for sale ($5 a pair).
It’s the least they could do for a film that helped put the borough on the cinematic map for something besides mobsters: “This movie is the first glimpse of Staten Island that many off-Islanders have,” Bennett says.
The event arrives on the heels of a delicious juicy new oral history published in the Hollywood Reporter.
“Before the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements — before Third Wave feminism in the 1990s and Girl Power in the 2000s — there was Tess McGill, a big-haired, hoops-wearing secretary from Staten Island who masqueraded as her unscrupulous boss Katharine Parker (Sigourney Weaver) in order to reclaim a stolen idea and package an innovative acquisition, all with the help of dashing executive Jack Trainer (Harrison Ford),” recalls Chris Gardner in his secret-trivia-packed Hollywood Reporter piece.
“McGill vacuumed topless and had ‘a bod for sin,’ and the character, played by Melanie Griffith in Mike Nichols’ 1988 romantic comedy “Working Girl,” was also a breakthrough in how women were portrayed on film, particularly in the workplace.”
The Staten Island event Tess inspired — dubbed “Let the River Run” after the movie’s Oscar-winning title track by Carly Simon — is the first in Staten Island Arts’ Cinema Connex Film Series, which will present monthly screenings in the new year.
Bennett admits, though, that her favorite film is still “Saturday Night Fever.”
“Let the River Run!: 30th Anniversary of ‘Working Girl” takes place from 7 to 10 p.m. Thursday at the St. George Theatre, 35 Hyatt St., Staten Island
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