This was Dolly Parton's theatrical film debut. In preparation for her role as Doralee Rhodes, she not only committed to memory her own part, but the parts of every other actor in the film. Apparently, the two experienced starring actresses, Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda, burst out laughing when Parton let on that she believed that pictures were filmed in the chronological order of a film's script.
Apparently, Dolly Parton was cast because Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin felt that she would "bring them the West". Parton was both a lead actress (along with the other two) and sang the title song, '9 to 5', which was Oscar nominated and won two Grammys. In an interview with Isaac Mizrahi, Parton states that when she wrote and performed the theme song to Tomlin and Fonda, she used her long acrylic nails to create the beat of the song.
The movie spurred a reasonably successful sitcom television series Nine to Five (1982) which went for eighty-five episodes and aired between 1982 and 1988. The first three seasons were broadcast on ABC between spring 1982 and fall 1983, while the second and final season aired in syndication between 1986 and 1988. Dolly Parton's younger sister Rachel Dennison played Parton's role Doralee Rhodes in the series.
To prepare for her role as Judy Bernly, a middle-aged divorcee entering the workforce, actress Jane Fonda interviewed numerous women who had entered the labor market late in life due to being widowed or divorced. Fonda took from this an element for her character, that of being over-dressed on her first day. Fonda wore an over-frilly, over-prim and very dowdy conservative wardrobe with over-sized glasses, elaborate hats and an over-done hair-style.
Lily Tomlin originally turned down the role of Violet because she was working on The Incredible Shrinking Woman (1981). She eventually relented and got that movie's producer to temporarily postpone acting activities so she could act in this film.
Dolly Parton accepted the role with the condition that she would write and sing the theme song, a deal which worked out great for everybody when 9 to 5's theme song was nominated for an Academy Award and won two Grammy's. This deal has continued in almost all of Parton's starring movies. The only film that refused her music and lyrics was Steel Magnolias (1989), which declined to use the Parton-penned song "Eagle When She Flies".
Two veteran and very popular actors, Gregory Peck and Charlton Heston, both turned down the role of Chairman of the Board Russell Tinsworthy (especially because it was a small role) which Sterling Hayden quickly accepted.
Dolly Parton's almost shy and reclusive husband, Carl Dean, never appears in public with her or accompanies her to any musical concerts or other events. One of the few times he made an exception was during filming of this movie, Dolly's theatrical film debut. When he walked into the studio, Jane Fonda pointed him out across the room and said "Look at that handsome man! I call him, he's mine!" to Lily Tomlin. Dolly then "spilled the beans" that he is her husband. After a few minutes conversing together, Dolly broke the news of being married to him and introduced him to the other actresses. When Jane heard Dolly's remark, she was extremely and deeply embarrassed, especially after she made a remark to Lily as if she was out "husband hunting."
Violet's fantasy features Disney-like characters from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) (including Violet herself as Snow White), Bambi (1942) and Robin Hood (1973). The animated characters resembled the Disney characters but were obviously drawn differently for legal reasons.
The name of the company was "Consolidated Companies, Inc." A majority of the picture is interiors of its workplace which were filmed on Sound Stage 6 at 20th Century Fox studios in Hollywood. A two-level set that cost about $1 million was constructed to feature interiors of two floors of a contemporary office complex.
In one scene, Dabney Coleman's sexist pig character is watching a soap opera. Two years later in the film Tootsie (1982) Coleman played a sexist pig who was the director of a soap opera. In fact, "Tootsie" earned its title from some of the demeaning nicknames he calls Dustin Hoffman's female alter ego character role & personality.
The man cast as Doralee's husband was actually married to a close friend of Dolly Parton and had known Dolly for quite some time. She says that is the only reason why she was able to kiss him on camera.
The trio of workers call their extremely short-tempered boss, Franklin M. Hart, Jr. (Dabney Coleman), a "sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot." This phrase was used when the 25th anniversary special edition DVD release was called the "Sexist, Egotistical, Lying, Hypocritical Bigot Edition". The phrase is listed on the paper slips in the DVD along with other movie highlights.
A $150 ticket charity retro premiere of this movie was held in 2003 to benefit the Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention (GCAPP) which was founded by the film's top-billed actress Jane Fonda. When asked which was their favorite scene from the movie, the three female lead actresses agreed that it was tying up horrible boss Dabney Coleman in the SM-like rig.
In 2009 a musical version of "9 to 5" opened on Broadway on Thursday, April 30th 2009. The opening cast included Allison Janney, Stephanie J. Block, Megan Hilty, and Marc Kudisch. "9 to 5: The Musical" closed on Sunday, September 6th, 2009, after 148 performances and 24 previews. Thursday, April 30th, 2009, to Sunday, September 6th, 2009, are 130 consecutive days, (18 weeks & 4 days).
First of two consecutive movies in which actor Dabney Coleman and actress Jane Fonda played a husband and a wife (but not married to each other) followed by 1981's On Golden Pond (1981) the following year.
When Violet, Judy, and Doralee conspire to send the nosy Roz (Elizabeth Wilson) away to the Aspen Language Center in Colorado to learn French, her flight is shown taking off. The very same airplane, a TWA 747, shown in this film, was used later for the ill-fated flight of TWA 800, which exploded shortly after taking off from Long Island, New York, on Wednesday, July 17th, 1996.
A release on VHS tape was originally planned with the same date as the film's theatrical release. However, the video release was postponed three months due to complaints from movie theater owners and the numerous letters they received all across North America.
The three lead characters' first names were based closely on each actress' first name. Jane Fonda's role was Judy Bernly, Dolly Parton's role was Doralee Rhodes and Lily Tomlin's role was Violet Newstead.
Sterling Hayden is fifth-billed in the relatively small, character role which is listed as "The Chairman of the Board" in the opening credits and as "Tinsworthy" in the end credits. His full name is given in the dialogue as "Russell Tinsworthy". Hayden would appear in only two more films and one TV mini-series after this film.
Most critics thought Mike Nichols' 1988 feminist office comedy hit Working Girl was in many ways the offspring of 9 to 5. So were The Devil Wears Prada, The Associate, Horrible Bosses and Clockwatchers.
If Roz knew about the girls' plot or dream to kill Hart; and all the crazy mishaps and misadventures with the rat poison, the stolen corpse and the hospital, why does she keep accepting their excuses for Hart's absence? Shouldn't she have been more suspicious?
Why did the girls tell Hart that they discoverd his unethical business dealings and his embezzlement of the funds from the Ajax warehouse? Wouldn't it have been smarter to just keep him tied up and keep that discovery a secret until the invoices came back? By telling him ahead of time they just opened the door for him to foil their plans later.
The trivia item below may give away important plot points.
All three women end up following through, to some extent, on their fantasies for getting rid of Mr. Hart: Judy tries to shoot him in his office, Doralee lassos and ties him up in his bedroom, and Violet (accidentally) puts rat poison in his coffee.