Throwback Thursday: Love in the Workplace

Work: the necessary evil that can be barely tolerable or completely self fulfilling. In order to keep the daily grind from getting the best of us, we begin to bond with our coworkers, even going as far as having “office wives” or “office husbands”. Through these fun and platonic relationships, love can occasionally bloom, making that necessary evil as romantic as a stroll through Central Park. Ok, I might have exaggerated that last bit. So, for this edition of Throwback Thursday, I give you The Office: Love Edition.

1. His Girl Friday (1940)

This Howard Hawks gem follows newspaper “man” Hildy Johnson (Rosalind Russell) and her editor/ex-husband Walter Burns (Cary Grant). Hildy has decided to re-marry and start her life as a housewife, however, Walter needs his best reporter for one last story. Let’s face it, he also still has a thing for her. Grant and Russell play off each other in such a brilliant fashion that Hawks kept their rehearsals to a minimum, just to capture true ad-libbed moments between the two. Journalism never looked so exciting.

2. The Shop Around the Corner (1940)

Based on the Hungarian play Parfumerie by Mikóls László, this was the first American incarnation of this story. Alfred Kralik (James Stewart) is an assistant manager at a gift store in Budapest. It is there that Klara Novak (Margaret Sullivan) undermines him with the boss to get a job at the store. With that auspicious beginning, Alfred and Klara are constantly sparring about everything from the schedule to the shop displays. Unbeknownst to each other, they are falling in love as anonymous pen pals. This classic story was so well received that it was re-adapted as a movie musical (In the Good Old Summertime), a Broadway musical (She Loves Me), and simply updated (You’ve Got Mail).

3. Broadcast News (1987)

News producer Jane Craig (Holly Hunter) is torn between two men: the handsome new anchor Tom Grunick (William Hurt) and her friend, Aaron Altman (Albert Brooks), the talented but unlucky anchor for the same station. Hunter, Brooks, and Hurt masterfully create a tense love triangle in the midst of reporting the news. Not to mention the beauty in the unconventional ending of this film that is true, romantic and fulfilling. While the romance in the film is quieter than the others on this list, it is no less effective.

4. Working Girl (1988) 

When Staten Island secretary Tess McGill (Melanie Griffith) begins a new job with Katharine Parker (Sigourney Weaver) she is promised that her ideas will be heard and she may actually be promoted. When Katharine breaks her leg skiing, Tess finds out that Katharine is trying to pass off one of Tess’s ideas as her own. Sick of being walked on and passed over, Tess assumes Katharine’s job in order to put together the deal with the help of Jack Trainer (Harrison Ford). As they follow Tess’s unconventional path to business dealings, Jack and Tess find themselves falling for one another. What could seem like a very thin story idea is expertly directed by Mike Nichols and acted by all three of the leads with great supporting performances by Joan Cusack and Alec Baldwin. This movie went on to be nominated for 6 Academy Awards.

5. Pretty Woman (1990) 

In this “hooker with a heart of gold” story, Hollywood Boulevard prostitute Vivian Ward (Julia Roberts) is hired by millionaire business man Edward Lewis (Richard Gere) to be his escort for the week. As she makes efforts to fit into the roll he needs her to play, Edward is moved by the lust for life that Vivian has, just as he shows her that she is worth much more than $3,000 per week. This film made Julia Roberts a superstar and inspired many romantic comedy clichés. The difference is, this one did it right.

-Ariadne Ansbro

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