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No. 68: Tootsie

The screwball gets an update

Jody Rosen
December 06, 2011

1982, dir. Sydney Pollack. In which struggling actor Michael Dorsey (Dustin Hoffman) puts on a dress, falsies, and a Southern drawl to win a spot on a popular daytime soap opera and, of course, the affections of a blonde. Sydney Pollack’s comedy—adapted by Larry Gelbart, Barry Levinson, Elaine May, and Murray Schisgal from a story by Gelbart—updated screwball with just the right mix of witty dialogue, sex farce, and early-’80s topicality. Hoffman is terrific in the lead, but the subtle scene-stealer is Pollack himself, a picture of rumpled exasperation as Dorsey’s long-suffering agent.

Jody Rosen is a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine.