Monday, February 17, 2014

Was "Working Girl" a period film when it was made?

I rarely feel like watching any of the contemporary films in Netflix. I tend to choose TV series or old films. In the second category I watched "Broadcast News" the other day. I liked this in 1987 but now it seems ridiculous that you can have a plot revolving around the dangerous charisma of a man who reads the news. While watching it I estimated I haven't actually seen a news bulletin in five years.

The other thing that's almost more laughable is the fashion. Holly Hunter has shoulder pads which are out of all proportion to her size. And her hair looks as if it's had violence done to it by a drunken stylist.

But "Broadcast News" is nothing, let me tell you, to "Working Girl" (1988). In this Melanie Griffith plays a secretary from Staten Island who grabs her chance to climb the greasy pole of a Wall Street firm. This being a film her progress is clearly indicated by her hairstyles. She starts out needing to enter a room sideways in order to accommodate the same lacquer-spun high-rise headpiece as her friends. She ends up with something neat, manageable and expensive.

I'm trying to think back to 1988 when I first saw this film. Were the fashions worn by Griffith and her friends in the early scenes funny and grotesque then? Watching now it's impossible to see past them.


  1. They're just meant to be heightened versions of the Staten Island girls who had that big-haired, big-shoulder padded look back then. So even when it was made it was a bit of an exaggeration. Or so I'm led to believe.

  2. Great article about them at Clothes on Film:

    Possibly more than you ever wanted to know about padded shoulders.

  3. And what about the images we often see of those guys who presented Live Aid in 1985. Will we ever see the likes of those fashions again?

  4. I lived in Upstate New York recently for a while. Remarkably women of a certain age still have those hairstyles.