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This movie won an Oscar for Best Original Song, "Let the River Run."

‘Working Girl’ (R)

By Desson Howe
Washington Post Staff Writer
December 23, 1988

In "Working Girl," as you soar into Wall Street, a sirenlike Carly Simon score pounding in your ears, you feel the spacey oblivion of nitrous oxide. Is this good? Who knows? It sure feels good -- at least until Mike Nichols' lightheaded caper runs out of gas.

Then you come down, and there's all these people in a movie theater sitting around you.

But it's a slow descent, thanks to the breathy, Monroesque Melanie Griffith -- who rolls up her Journal, slips in those shoulder pads and wins everyone over as Tess McGill, a secretary with smarts who's upwardly mobile and can still fall in love between memos. Both Harrison Ford and Sigourney Weaver willingly take up side offices to Griffith's excutive-suite performance. And everyone gets promoted. But Griffith -- at least within the limited boundaries of this movie -- takes Manhattan.

But Nichols' timing seems off. Maybe he's too in love with Kevin Wade's latter-day "Born Yesterday" meets "9 to 5" story; he lingers excessively. A subplot involving Griffith and first boyfriend Alec Baldwin becomes the-subplot-that-wouldn't-go-bust, and comic scenes sometimes go bankrupt because they just hold their stock too long. Light entertainment like this should zip along like those financial quote boards.

Tess McGill gets a job at Petty-Marsh as receptionist to superboss Katharine Porter (Weaver), and things look promising when Katharine encourages Tess' financial ideas. It would spoil things to reveal more but one of Tess' ideas leads to an emotional and financial triangle-tangle between Tess, Katharine and investment broker Jack Trainer (Ford), all under the profit-seeking brow of a powerful mega-exec (Philip Bosco).

Weaver shows casting courage playing the villainous Bryn Mawr ice queen (imagine the child of Michael "Wall Street" Douglas and Katharine Hepburn), and hangdog hunk Ford -- though he still looks pooped from that rooftop scrambling in "Frantic" -- is wonderfully deadpan. "I don't notice it myself," he says monotonally to a date, speaking of his untidy apartment, "but some of the people I've had over have remarked on it." Later, distraught at a wedding he wasn't even invited to, he sucks down two Polynesian drinks like an exasperated Deputy Dawg at the end of a long, hard day.

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