Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Tootsie - A new Comedy Musical

Tootsie played by Dustin Hoffman - On the streets of NY

I must admit that the movie “Tootsie” from 1982 is likely the most important movie I ever watched. Time Out New York has named it a "great American comedy" and possibly best film of all time according to an actors' poll.

Tootsie was significant to me because it provided fuel to a fire that had been burning inside me for a long time. 

"Could a male successfully portray a person of the opposite gender?"

Long before 1982 and I adopted the name "Rhonda", the girl-inside was ever-present. I was enthralled as to how Dustin Hoffman, a rather ordinary looking guy could successfully pull off a switch. Not beautiful, but blend in on the streets of New York, get a job and exist as "Dorothy".  Wow, a dream narrative; if he could, maybe I could? 

According to Emanuel Levy in an article from 2006, the movie was significant on several levels.  

Tootsie was the first mainstream feminist film to make a lot of money at the box-office, and, more importantly, to change the way that both men and women thought about sex roles.

Some critics have argued that Tootsie subtly changed attitudes towards the gay community, although it was not ostensibly about gay issues. However, the ramifications of Michael Dorsey's impersonation of a woman in the story suggests gay issues. For instance, in one scene Bill Murray asks Hoffman “It is just for the money isn't it It's not so you can try on these little outfits” Michael's relationship with his girlfriend Sandy becomes more and more complicated as he continues to hide his new job from her, and as Jessica Lange's widowed father (Charles Durning) falls in love with him, as Dorothy Michaels.

Hoffman wound up investing four years of his life into this idea. However, the time spent was well worth it, for Hoffman made 21 millions dollars off of the film just for himself. Acclaim for Hoffman's trying double role was unanimous, one critic typically stating that “Dorothy, as Hoffman portrays her, is one of the more interesting characters on screen in a good while.”

My beloved movie and Rhonda’s inspiration is going to become a Broadway Play.  Stay tuned.


  1. Hi Rhonda, interesting article today. Glad you found so much inspiration in TOOTSIE.

    It's not that I found it a bad film, no it's a funny movie. But it never "spoke" to me in a transgender way, even when I was younger.

    Actually, so far I've not been very impressed with any representations of transgender people in TV or movies.

    I had had hopes for that series TRANSPARENT, but I found all the characters to be so selfish and self-absorbed as to be unlikeable.

    But then I'm not aware of any film or TV actually produced by a transgender person. (Other than Caitlyn Jenner's reality show, and when it comes to her I'm of two minds.)

    I think she in some respects has helped the visibility of transgender people, but I think her wealth has blinded her to many of the serious problems others of us face and therefore I think she would be better off educating herself before spouting off.

    Here's a little trivia: did you know that being transgender is the only status legally written into the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) that is prohibited from being an actual disability under the law?

    It's true. Not that I think being transgender should necessarily be considered a disability at all, but the fact it was written in the way it was is interesting to me.

    I can't necessarily prove it conclusively, but I imagine--and remember this is back 1989, 1990--the politicians voting on this law probably remembered the popular TV show MASH with the Klinger character wearing dresses to get out of the Army.

    These same politicians probably didn't want guys in dresses claiming "disabilities." Very stupid part of what is otherwise a landmark civil rights law.

    But that's politicians for you....

    1. Hi Janet - Thank you so much for the comment - Please comment again. Good thoughts.

    2. Thank you for letting me spout off for so long. Oh, but one more thing as to your main thesis point today: Can someone successfully portray someone of the opposite gender?

      Don't forget actress Linda Hunt won an Oscar in 1982 for doing just that in the film THE YEAR OF LIVING DANGEROUSLY.

      Thanks again for such an interesting blog!

  2. one of the three best TG films, Tootsie, Some like it hot, and La cage au folles( the better funnier French original of the Birdcage) Greatly enjoy your blog especially the political cartoons. Envy particularly your ability to look so good a female.

  3. Chris - Thank you. I agree on your movie choices.

  4. Tootsie was also a movie i HAD to see as it held tremendous "personal" interest for me--- I wanted to BE a "TOOTSIE" -but of course-- situations denied it for me at the time--The previous movie that moved me along those lines of thought that men could impersonate ladies was Christopher Morley in -Freebie and the Bean---that did lead me to BE in my EX wife's clothes for Halloween ---

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