as Tess McGill in WORKING GIRL (1988)
Tess McGill is a frustrated secretary, struggling to forge ahead in the world of big business in New York. She gets her chance when her classy but villainous boss breaks her leg on a skiing holiday. McGill takes advantage of her absence to push ahead with her career: Tess simply takes over her office, her apartment, even her wardrobe. She then creates a deal with a handsome investment banker that will either take her straight to the top - or finish her off for good. The situation is complicated after the return of her boss.
"I have a head for business and a bod for sin. Is there anything wrong with that?"
- Tess McGill
Melanie Griffith received her only Academy Award nomination, playing Tess McGill, a working class stockbroker’s secretary from Staten Island with a Bachelor’s degree in Business from evening classes, who dreams of an executive position. In this film, Melanie Griffith
portrays quite beautifully the American dream. She shows the ambition of her character quite stunningly, portraying this beautiful secretary who just wants to be taken seriously. She shows that she is a lot much stronger that she seems, and a lot less naïve that her appearance may suggest. But the great things on her performance stop here. The main issue is that Griffith doesn’t show her eager, her determination. She’s a passive character and a one-dimensional one, she is kind, she doesn’t want to hurt anyone whereas in the business, you have to be a lot more ferocious. Even when Tess thinks Katherine stole her idea or when her boyfriend is cheating on her, her behavior doesn’t change, and it’s a great mistake. I don’t think her performance in Oscar Worthy. She gives a kind of Reese Witherspoon/Katherine Heigl/Jennifer Aniston performances in Romantic Movies, nothing really astonishing or deserving of an Oscar nomination, and I don’t understand the appeal around this film. To be honest, the only difference between Melanie Griffith and the other Romantic Ladies is that I can’t deny the fact that Griffith is well cast and that she really understands her character. Also, her voice never changed through the movie, always soft and quiet, we don’t really feel any emotions. The only highlight in the film is the end, when Sigourney becomes bitchier, and when Tess' world falls apart. She becomes more emotional, but nothing spectacular.
"Working Girl is enjoyable largely due to the fun of watching scrappy, sexy, unpredictable Melanie Griffith rise from Staten Island secretary to Wall Street whiz."
Well, it's not a surprise, Melanie Griffith’s performance is really not Oscar worthy, I mean she’s pretty, she’s funny, she’s great to look at, but that's all. I don't deny the fact that Melanie is great in the role, but the material is not substantial enough to give a tour de force. I'm not someone who thinks comedy is not award worthy, but in this case, there is nothing amazing to reward.