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Tootsie - Sunday Night Film Club #1 - 4/17/2022

Updated: Apr 20, 2022

In my screenwriting journey I have found myself with massive gaps in my film knowledge. The Sunday Night Film Club is designed to fill those gaps and invite others to participate in my journey of film literacy. I will be reading the screenplays and watching them each week. I will record my thoughts here and I invite you to participate in the comments section. While the act of psychically watching a film together is an important part of the experience organizing something like that becomes more of a deterrent than anything. In this day and age it is difficult to bring people together in the same room for a screening so I decided, why not just do it collectively, but also separately.

Follow me on Instagram for the announcements of what we will be watching each week and come back here every Sunday to find my thoughts.

This brings us to the first film in the series, Toosie:

There are a number of universally recommended screenplays to read. Tootsie is one that tops almost every list. It is considered by some as a perfectly written script. It is a romantic comedy that came out in 1982 directed by Sidney Pollack, written by Larry Gelbart (M*A*S*H) and Murray Schisgal, and starring a 45-year-old Dustin Hoffman alongside Jessica Lange. We get a young Bill Murray (32) and the debut of 80s icon Geena Davis. Tootsie is about an actor who has to pretend to be a woman to get a job.

You can download the screenplay .pdf here

90% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes

Stream on HBOMax

My take:

The screenplay was a really fun read, I highly recommend giving it a go if you are at all interested in film making. I really liked the decision to refer to Dustin Hoffman as Dorothy and use she/her pronouns in the dialogue when she was in drag. I was worried going in that this would be trans/homophobic and I came out impressed. It's almost like something happened in American Culture in the 80s that rewound our clocks socially.

I would agree with those that consider Tootsie a classic. It subverted the romantic comedy genre in ways that have since become tropes. Dustin Hoffman shows his range as an actor establishing The Church Lady before there was a The Church Lady. His performance is infectious. Bill Murray delivers genuine laughs on scenes that weren't particularly funny on the page (the one where he is eating a plate of lemon slices). In fact, Tootsie is a great example of writing to your actors in comedy. So much of the comedy of this movie was the performances.

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