Tootsie at 40: a dazzling comedy with something serious on its mind
The 1982 Oscar-winner is known for its farcical hijinks but it’s the focus on weightier issues that helped it stay the course
The classic American screwball comedies of the late 30s and 40s are revered for their sparkling dialogue, their intricate plotting and their mixing-and-matching of glamorous, witty Golden Age icons like Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, Jimmy Stewart, Barbara Stanwyck and Claudette Colbert. But one of the important, under-appreciated qualities of those movies – what made Adam’s Rib, Bringing Up Baby, The Lady Eve, His Girl Friday, and others really pop – is there was something serious at stake. These romcoms were not all meet-cutes and gimmicks, but cultural arenas for a battle of the sexes that was being waged off screen, too. Happy endings were achieved through intense negotiations.