For some reason (possibly because I had two small children and didn’t get out much!) I missed Tootsie (1982)when it came out. Oh my, is it ever 80s! When actresses are auditioning for a part as a hospital administrator in a soap opera, they all turn up in mannish suits “softened” with a bow at the neckline, à la The Women’s Dress for Success Book, and oversized glasses. It’s enough to bring a shudder to anyone who lived through that time.
Nevertheless, I enjoyed the movie. Surely everyone knows the plot – unsuccessful actor Dustin Hoffman disguises himself as a woman to get the above-mentioned part. He falls in love with co-star Jessica Lange; other men get interested in “Dorothy” (Hoffman’s alter ego); and there are several farcical scenes of quick changes to escape detection.
There were excellent performances all around, but especially by Hoffman. One could almost see how his character could fool so many people into believing he was a woman. But of course, there has to be a deeper meaning, or several. The one I found was also very 80s – Hoffman “gets in touch with” his feminine side, and it makes him a better man and opens the possibility of a relationship with Lange.
I also very much enjoyed the behind-the-scenes glimpse at the actor’s world, both in the soap opera scenes and, even more, at the beginning of the film where Hoffman is teaching a class of other aspiring actors. I was glad to have included this in my mini-festival of Hoffman along with The Graduate and Rain Man.