Strange how some movies get panned when they come out but praised for years after. When Dolly Parton took to the silver screen in 1981 with ‘9 to 5’, a queue of critics formed to stick their poison dipped pens in to the queen of country music.
I’ve got one review in front of me here from Melody Maker in February, 1981. “Poor Dolly Parton’s movie debut will do her as much solid good as a Peter Butterworth western.” It went on to say that it wasn’t all Dolly’s fault because “the more veteran talents of Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin also sink without trace in the puddle which is ‘9 to 5′”.
The three ladies embark on their revenge against a sexist boss, sitting opposite “a beserk Xerox machine which may have had a hand in the screenplay”. Far from being tickled by the antics of the three protagonists, this reviewer thought every humiliation wrought on the boss should have been accompanied by a noise from the “Wah-Wah-Wah siren” had the director chosen to use one.
“History may well say that Dolly did as well as can be expected,” the writer in Melody Maker said sniffily. But history has actually been a lot kinder. If you go to the IMDb movie site, the critic and user reviews are almost uniformly positive. In a humorous way, this movie was seen as being quite insightful and having a delicious comic touch. But that’s history for you – sometimes kinder and sometimes crueler on reflection.