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 role 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.
To prepare for her role as Judy Bernly, a middle-aged divorcée entering the workforce, Jane Fonda interviewed numerous women who had entered the workforce late in life due to divorce or widowhood. It inspired Judy's first day outfit: a frilly, conservative wardrobe with over-sized glasses, elaborate hats, and an over-done hairstyle.
Dolly Parton accepted the role with the condition that she would write and sing the theme song, which was nominated for an Academy Award and won two Grammys. Parton made the same deal for almost every other movie, in which she has starred. The exception was Steel Magnolias (1989), which declined to use the Parton-penned song "Eagle When She Flies".
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 on the show.
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's almost shy and reclusive husband, Carl Dean, never appears in public with her nor 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 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 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.
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 from all across North America.
The name of the company was "Consolidated Companies, Inc." A majority of this movie is interiors of its workplace, which were filmed on Sound Stage 6 at 20th Century Fox in Hollywood. A two-level set that cost about one million dollars was constructed to feature interiors of two floors of a contemporary office complex.
A one hundred fifty dollar 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 Jane Fonda. When asked which was their favorite scene from the movie, the three actresses agreed that it was tying up horrible boss Dabney Coleman in the SM-like rig.
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.
All three women end up following through on their fantasies for getting rid of Mr. Hart: Judy tries to shoot him in his office (she misses), Doralee lassos and ties him up in his office, and Violet (accidentally) puts rat poison in his coffee.
A musical version of this movie opened on Broadway on Thursday, April 30, 2009. The opening cast included Allison Janney, Stephanie J. Block, Megan Hilty, and Marc Kudisch. It closed on Sunday, September 6, 2009, after one hundred forty-eight performances and twenty-four previews. Thursday, April 30, 2009, to Sunday, September 6, 2009, are one hundred thirty consecutive days, (eighteen weeks and four days).
When Violet, Judy, and Doralee conspire to send Roz to the Aspen Language Center in Colorado to learn French, a TWA 747 is shown taking off. That plane, TWA flight 800, exploded over the Atlantic Ocean on July 17, 1996, just south of Long Island, shortly after takeoff from JFK International Airport, killing all passengers and crew aboard.
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 appeared in only two more movies, and one television miniseries after this movie.
In one scene, Dabney Coleman's character is watching a soap opera. Two years later, in Tootsie (1982), Coleman played the director of a soap opera. That film's title is one of the demeaning nicknames for Dustin Hoffman's female alter ego.
Most critics thought Mike Nichols' feminist office comedy hit Working Girl (1988) was, in many ways, the offspring of this movie. So were The Devil Wears Prada (2006), The Associate (1996), Horrible Bosses (2011), Horrible Bosses 2 (2014), and Clockwatchers (1997).