Sigourney Weaver's Contribution to 1980s Cinema

From Alien to Ghostbusters, Sigourney Weaver redefined women in action films. Learn more about her contribution to the genre of '80s cinema and what made it so unique.

Sigourney Weaver's Contribution to 1980s Cinema
Sigourney Weaver

1980s Sigourney Weaver: A Biographical Account

Sigourney Weaver, an iconic actress known for her performances in numerous acclaimed films, was born on October 8, 1949. Let's take a closer look at the life of this talented and versatile actress.

Early Years and Family Background

Born as Susan Alexandra Weaver in New York City, Sigourney grew up in a creative and artistic household. Her father, Sylvester Weaver Jr., was a well-known television executive, while her mother,

Sigourney Weaver as child with her parents b/w

Elizabeth Inglis, was an English actress. She also had an older brother named Trajan.

Growing up surrounded by the entertainment industry, it's no surprise that Sigourney developed a love for acting at a young age. Her parents' influence and support played a significant role in shaping her passion for the performing arts.

Teenage and Early Adult Years

Sigourney Weaver at Stanford University 1972

After graduating from Stanford University with a degree in English, Sigourney moved to New York City to pursue acting professionally. She began taking classes at the prestigious Yale School of Drama and appeared in various theater productions before making her Broadway debut in 1976.

Not long after, she landed her first film role in "Annie Hall" (1977) and then went on to play the iconic character of Ellen Ripley in the science fiction horror film "Alien" (1979). This breakthrough performance catapulted Sigourney into stardom and solidified her as a leading actress.

Landing the Role of a Lifetime

Alien 1979 movie poster/cover

Sigourney Weaver's journey to becoming Ellen Ripley, one of the cinema's most iconic characters, is as fascinating as it is inspiring. Although she was relatively unknown in the film industry at the time, Weaver ended up auditioning for the part of Ripley in "Alien". Director Ridley Scott saw something exceptional in her during her audition. Her powerful screen presence and natural acting abilities were undeniable, and Scott knew he had found his Ripley.

As the story goes, the role of Ellen Ripley was initially written for a man. However, Ridley Scott, ever the maverick, decided to turn the tables on traditional gender roles within the sci-fi genre. He offered the part to Weaver, making her the first woman to lead a sci-fi film, a groundbreaking move at the time.

Weaver's portrayal of Ellen Ripley not only set the pace for her own career but also revolutionised the portrayal of women in science fiction films. And it all began with an audition that would forever change the trajectory of her acting career.

Alien (1979): A Genre-Defining Classic

Not quite 80s but too good to leave out. "Alien" was more than a mere sci-fi flick; it was a game-changer that forever transformed the landscape of the genre. This chilling fusion of science fiction and horror propelled Sigourney Weaver into the limelight as the valiant Ellen Ripley, a character whose courage and resilience resonated with audiences worldwide.

Alien (1979): Ellen Ripley

The film, directed by the visionary Ridley Scott, showcased an intriguing blend of extraterrestrial terror and human survival instincts, artfully brought to life by Weaver in her groundbreaking performance. In the eerie solitude of deep space, Ripley's confrontation with the horrifying alien creature not only set the pulses of moviegoers racing but also shattered the glass ceiling for female protagonists in science fiction.

Ripley holding 'Jones' the cat in Alien 1979

Ripley's character, initially scripted for a male lead, was an audacious deviation from the archetypal damsel-in-distress trope prevalent in films of the era. Sigourney Weaver, with her commanding screen presence, stepped up to the plate, defying gender stereotypes and inspiring a generation of actresses in the process.

A testament to its enduring legacy, "Alien" remains a cinematic masterpiece, and Sigourney Weaver's portrayal of Ellen Ripley is a cornerstone of the film's success. It paved the way for a new wave of sci-fi films and demonstrated that a woman could take the helm in a traditionally male-dominated genre. Little did Weaver know that her role in "Alien" would not only redefine her career but also have a profound impact on the film industry as a whole.

The Thrilling Plot of 'Alien'

"Alien" is a unique blend of science fiction and horror, set in the vast and terrifying expanse of deep space.

commercial starship Nostromo: Alien 1979

The plot revolves around the crew of the commercial starship Nostromo, who are awakened prematurely from their stasis during a return trip to Earth. The starship's computer, Mother, has received a distress signal from a nearby planetoid, prompting an investigation by the crew.

Upon landing, three members of the crew - Dallas, Lambert and Kane - set out to investigate the source of the signal. They discover an alien spacecraft containing a chamber filled with eggs. When Kane approaches one of the eggs, a creature (later known as a 'facehugger') leaps out and attaches itself to his face, beginning the nightmare that will consume the crew.

Alien coming out of Kane's chest: Alien 1979

Back on the Nostromo, despite quarantine protocol, Ash, the science officer, allows the stricken Kane to be brought onboard. It's not long before the next stage of the alien's life cycle begins, as it emerges from Kane in one of the most infamous scenes in film history.

The now fully-grown and terrifyingly lethal Alien begins to stalk and kill the crew members one by one, its structural perfection matched only by its hostility. Ellen Ripley, played by Sigourney Weaver, eventually emerges as the unlikely and resourceful heroine.

Ripley blasting the Alien into space

She battles not only the Alien creature but also the startling revelation that Ash has been protecting the Alien for the company they work for, considering the crew expendable.

In the climactic showdown, Ripley, now the last surviving crew member, sets the Nostromo to self-destruct and escapes in the shuttlecraft, only to discover the Alien has stowed away on board. In a final act of heroism, she blasts the creature into space, securing her survival. Ripley's survival is a testament to human resilience and resourcefulness, making "Alien" a genre-defining classic that resonates as strongly today as it did when it first burst onto the screen.

Technical Aspects of 'Alien'

'Alien' is a tour de force of technical brilliance, weaving together pioneering special effects, detailed set designs, and innovative cinematography to craft a truly immersive cinematic experience.

Ron Cobb, concept artist on Alien 1979

The film's art direction, led by Ron Cobb and Chris Foss, created an industrial, lived-in aesthetic for the Nostromo, which became a template for future science fiction films.

The Alien creature itself, designed by Swiss surrealist artist H.R. Giger, was a nightmarish synthesis of biological and mechanical elements, a design so unique and terrifying that the Alien became one of cinema's most iconic monsters. Giger's biomechanical creature design was complemented by Carlo Rambaldi's animatronics, creating a creature that felt chillingly real.

Cinematographer: Derek Vanlint (1932-2010)

The cinematography, helmed by Derek Vanlint (1932-2010), played a significant role in amplifying the film's tension and dread. Utilising low-key lighting and claustrophobic framing, Vanlint turned the Nostromo into a menacing labyrinth, a perfect hunting ground for the Alien.

Jerry Goldsmith's haunting score, with its discordant strings and eerie electronic sounds, further enhanced the atmosphere of mounting fear and isolation. The film's sound design also played a crucial role; the hisses and growls of the Alien, the ominous hum of the ship, and the chilling silence of space all combining to create an auditory landscape as terrifying as the visual one.

The technical genius behind 'Alien' resulted in an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects, underscoring the film's groundbreaking contributions to cinema. With its visionary design and technical mastery, 'Alien' remains a landmark in science fiction and horror, setting a high bar for the films that would follow.

The Stellar Cast of Alien

Alien 1979 characters left to right: Kane,Lambert,Dallas,Parker,Ripley,Brett,Ash

The unforgettable "Alien" boasted a diverse and talented cast, each bringing their unique flair to the chilling sci-fi classic. Here are the main players:

  • Sigourney Weaver as Ellen Ripley: We've already spoken about the incomparable Sigourney Weaver, but it's worth reiterating her powerhouse performance. Weaver's Ripley is a beacon of strength and resilience, defying stereotypes and setting a new bar for leading ladies in sci-fi.
  • Tom Skerritt as Dallas: A veteran actor with a rugged charm, Skerritt portrayed the doomed captain of the Nostromo. His character, Dallas, was a man of action, and Skerritt provided the perfect blend of courage and vulnerability to the role.
  • Veronica Cartwright as Lambert: With an acting career spanning six decades, Cartwright brought a touch of raw authenticity to her role as Lambert, the Nostromo's navigator. Her performance added an intense layer of human emotion to the crew's terrifying ordeal.
  • Harry Dean Stanton as Brett: Stanton, known for his compelling on-screen presence, played the role of Brett, the engineering technician. His character's untimely encounter with the Alien remains one of the most iconic scenes in the film.
  • John Hurt as Kane: English actor John Hurt portrayed Executive Officer Kane, whose tragic fate triggers the crew's nightmare. Hurt's unforgettable and harrowing performance ensured Kane's place in cinema history.
  • Ian Holm as Ash: A highly respected actor, Holm took on the role of Ash, the Nostromo's science officer with a shocking secret. His chilling portrayal added a surprising twist to the crew's desperate fight for survival.
  • Yaphet Kotto as Parker: Kotto's Parker was the chief engineer of the Nostromo, a pragmatic man with a strong survival instinct. His charismatic performance added depth and relatability to the crew dynamic.

Review Score

Each actor in the "Alien" cast brought something unique to the table, creating a memorable ensemble that continues to captivate audiences decades later. Their combined performances, led by the trailblazing Sigourney Weaver, made "Alien" a genre-defining classic.

Given its gripping plot, stellar performances, particularly that of Sigourney Weaver, and its lasting impact on the science fiction genre, "Alien" warrants a score of 8.5 out of 10 from 80s Stuff. This film continues to enthrall audiences with its blend of suspense, horror, and poignant character development, a testament to its timeless appeal.

Ghostbusters (1984) - A Comic Sci-Fi Phenomenon

Ghostbusters (1984) movie poster

Moving on from the chilling corridors of the Nostromo, let's turn our attention to a lighter, yet equally influential film in Sigourney Weaver's career - Ghostbusters. Released in 1984, this comic sci-fi adventure was a major departure for Weaver, introducing her to a broader comedic genre and demonstrating her versatility as an actress.

Weaver played Dana Barrett, a cellist living in a New York apartment building that just happens to be the nexus of supernatural activity. Her deadpan humour and everywoman appeal made Dana a relatable and engaging character amidst the zany antics of the Ghostbusters themselves.

The film was a box office smash, blending comedy, sci-fi, and action into a delightful cinematic brew. Its success led to a sequel in 1989 and a reboot in 2016, reaffirming Ghostbusters as a beloved franchise.

What stands out about Weaver's performance in Ghostbusters is her ability to play the straight woman to the film's comedic leads - Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, and Harold Ramis. Weaver's interactions with these comic heavyweights are some of the film's most memorable moments. Her chemistry with Murray, in particular, contributed significantly to the film's charm.

With its catchy theme song, memorable one-liners, and lovable characters, Ghostbusters remains a cult classic of the 1980s. Weaver's performance as Dana Barrett showcased her range as an actress, proving that she could hold her own in both the realms of comedy and drama. This film served as another stepping stone in Weaver's stellar career, demonstrating her versatility and solidifying her status as one of Hollywood's leading ladies.

The Plot of Ghostbusters

"Ghostbusters", set in New York City, introduces us to a group of eccentric, out-of-work parapsychologists who decide to start a business capturing and removing ghosts from haunted buildings.

Louis Tully and Dana Barrett: Ghostbusters 1984

Sigourney Weaver's character, Dana Barrett, becomes the Ghostbusters' first real customer after she experiences strange occurrences in her kitchen. As the plot unfolds, we discover that Dana's apartment building is actually a gateway to another dimension and the de facto residence of an ancient Sumerian god named Gozer. The Ghostbusters are called upon to combat this otherworldly threat, leading to humorous and thrilling escapades. The film culminates in an epic showdown on the roof of Dana's apartment building, involving a giant Stay Puft Marshmallow Man and the successful banishing of Gozer. With its perfect blend of comedy and fantasy, "Ghostbusters" offers a riotously fun take on the supernatural genre, underpinned by Weaver's nuanced performance as Dana.

The Ghostly Cast

  • Bill Murray as Dr. Peter Venkman: A charismatic but disreputable parapsychologist, Murray's Venkman is the slick, charming face of the Ghostbusters. His quick wit and offbeat humour make him a standout figure in the ensemble.
  • Dan Aykroyd as Dr. Raymond Stantz: Aykroyd's Stantz is the heart of the Ghostbusters, an enthusiastic believer in the supernatural and the driving force behind the team's ghost-catching technology. His childlike enthusiasm and earnestness provide a lively contrast to Venkman's cynicism.
  • Harold Ramis as Dr. Egon Spengler: Ramis portrays Spengler, the brains of the Ghostbusters. His deadpan delivery and fondness for the bizarre bring a unique charm to the team.
  • Ernie Hudson as Winston Zeddemore: Hudson's Zeddemore is the everyman of the Ghostbusters, a hire-on who becomes an integral part of the team. His grounded, practical viewpoint offers a refreshing contrast to the eccentricities of his colleagues.
  • Sigourney Weaver as Dana Barrett: Weaver's Dana is a no-nonsense cellist who becomes embroiled in the Ghostbusters' wacky adventures. Her blend of sophistication and deadpan humour adds a touch of reality to the fantastical proceedings.
  • Rick Moranis as Louis Tully: Moranis plays Tully, Dana's neighbour who unwittingly becomes a key player in the supernatural events. His nerdy, socially awkward persona adds a layer of comic relief to the film.

Review Score

The evergreen appeal of Ghostbusters is undoubtedly down to its iconic characters, memorable lines and an infectious theme tune that still gets feet tapping. Weaver's portrayal of Dana Barrett was a pivot point of the film, hitting the perfect notes of scepticism, humour and vulnerability. In terms of her performance, she knocked it out of the park, adding another impressive role to her growing filmography. For its perfect blend of comedy, supernatural elements, and unforgettable performances, including our beloved Sigourney Weaver, Ghostbusters deserves a decent 6 out of 10 from 80s Stuff. A classic that still holds its charm, this film continues to entertain and inspire a sense of excitement and fun, decades after its release.

James Cameron's "Aliens" (1986): The Sci-Fi Sequel That Raised The Bar

Aliens 1986 movie poster

When it came to the sequel of the genre-defining classic "Alien", director James Cameron had some pretty big space boots to fill, to say the least. And boy, did he deliver! "Aliens", the second installment in the franchise, burst onto the scene in 1986, all guns blazing and ready to redefine the game, again.

While "Alien" had carved a niche with its heart-stopping blend of science fiction and horror, "Aliens" dared to venture into new territory. Cameron injected a hearty dose of high-octane action into the franchise, cranking up the adrenaline and the stakes for our beloved heroine, Ellen Ripley.

Back and bolder than ever, Sigourney Weaver slid back into the role of Ripley with gusto, further solidifying her status as a beacon of female empowerment in cinema. In Cameron's "Aliens", Ripley was more than just a survivor; she was a warrior, a protector, and a hero.

The film was not just a run-of-the-mill sequel that cashed in on the success of its predecessor. No, siree! It was a beast in its own right, taking the core elements that made "Alien" a hit, and then amplifying it with Cameron's signature touch. More aliens, more action, and more Ripley – it was the sequel that fans didn't know they needed!

James Cameron behind the camera directing Aliens

"Aliens" is more than just a testament to James Cameron's incredible vision as a director; it's also a testament to Sigourney Weaver's enduring legacy as Ellen Ripley. Weaver's electric performance earned her an Academy Award nomination, a rarity for actors in the sci-fi genre, further proving that she was in a league of her own.

So, ladies and gents, if you're ever asked to name a sequel that lived up to, or even outdid, its predecessor, look no further than "Aliens". This thrill-ride of a film is a stellar example of a sequel done right and stands as a shining beacon in the galaxy of sci-fi cinema. And at the heart of it all, steering the ship with absolute brilliance, was none other than Sigourney Weaver, forever our Ellen Ripley.

The Plot of "Aliens"

"Aliens" picks up 57 years after the dramatic events of "Alien". Sigourney Weaver's character, Ellen Ripley, is found drifting in deep space in cryogenic stasis.

Hicks Teaching Ripley how to use a gun

After being rescued and brought back to Earth, she's horrified to discover the length of time she's been absent. Despite her attempts to warn the company about the lethal extra-terrestrial creature she encountered, she's met with disbelief and skepticism, due to the lack of physical evidence.

However, when communication is lost with the terraforming colony on LV-426—the very planet where Ripley's crew first encountered the alien eggs—she agrees to accompany a team of high-tech marines back to the site to investigate. On arrival, they find the colony deserted, except for a traumatised young girl, Newt. Soon, they discover that the colony has been overrun by the aliens Ripley dreaded to face again.

Aliens 1986: Ripley holding machine gun

In the face of real and relentless danger, Ripley rises from survivor to protector, especially of Newt, showcasing unparalleled courage and determination. The film climaxes with an iconic showdown between Ripley and the Alien Queen, further cementing Ripley's status as a cinematic hero. The plot of "Aliens," with its heightened tension, action-packed sequences, and the emotional depth of its characters, is a thrilling roller coaster ride from start to finish.

  • Sigourney Weaver as Ellen Ripley: Returning for the sequel, Weaver's character Ripley transitions from survivor to warrior. Her powerful performance, embodying courage and resilience, earned her an Academy Award nomination.
  • Michael Biehn as Corporal Dwayne Hicks: Known for his roles in other James Cameron films, Biehn played the disciplined and heroic Corporal Hicks. His character provided a contrast to the chaos and a solid support for Ripley
  • Paul Reiser as Carter Burke: Reiser portrayed the greedy and deceitful company man, Carter Burke. His character personified the corporate world's ruthlessness and disregard for human life
  • Lance Henriksen as Bishop: Henriksen played Bishop, the android with a heart. His portrayal provided a contrast to Ash from the first film, showing that androids could be allies.
  • Bill Paxton as Private Hudson: Paxton's performance as the brash and panicky Hudson added a layer of humor and vulnerability to the film. His character's transformation from boastful soldier to terrified survivor is unforgettable.
  • Carrie Henn as Newt: In her only film role, Henn played Newt, the lone survivor on the colonized planet. Her character formed a deep bond with Ripley and brought out Ripley's protective side.
  • Jenette Goldstein as Private Vasquez: Goldstein’s Vasquez was the badass female marine of the group. Her tough exterior and memorable one-liners made her a fan favorite.

The ensemble cast of "Aliens" skillfully portrayed a diverse group of characters, each adding depth to the storyline and amplifying the tension and drama in this highly acclaimed sequel.

Review Score

With its thrilling storyline, intense action sequences, and a compelling performance by the indomitable Sigourney Weaver, "Aliens" merits a robust score of 8.5 out of 10. This sequel not only lived up to its predecessor but also added new layers to the narrative, making it a must-watch for any sci-fi aficionado.

Unveiling the Gorillas in the Mist (1988) - A Journey into the Wild

Gorillas in the Mist (1988) movie poster

Embarking on a departure from her well-established sci-fi repertoire, Sigourney Weaver took the film world by storm in 1988 with the biographical drama, "Gorillas in the Mist". Weaver portrayed the renowned primatologist Dian Fossey, taking audiences on a journey into the heart of the African jungle, where the line between man and primate blurs beautifully.

Weaver's performance was as transformative as it was captivating. From the moment she stepped onto the screen, she became Dian Fossey – fiercely passionate, courageous, and unyielding in her mission to protect the majestic mountain gorillas from the clutches of poachers.

The role was both physically and emotionally demanding, calling upon Weaver to immerse herself in Fossey's world. Whether it was braving the elements in the dense rainforest or developing intimate, non-verbal communication with the gorillas, Weaver's dedication to the role was evident.

The real Dian Fossey with a young Gorilla

Her portrayal of Fossey's turbulent journey, from her hopeful beginnings to the tragic end, was deeply moving. She embodied Fossey's spirit, capturing her passion, her strength, and, above all, her unwavering devotion to the creatures she loved and fought to protect.

"Gorillas in the Mist" brought to the fore Weaver's exceptional acting prowess, earning her an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress. The film remains a pivotal point in Weaver's career, showcasing her ability to take on complex, multi-dimensional roles outside the sci-fi universe.

So, if you're in the mood for a stirring cinematic experience, take a walk on the wild side with "Gorillas in the Mist". It's proof positive that Weaver can do more than just battle intergalactic aliens - she can also steal your heart in this extraordinary tale of humanity, compassion, and the fight to preserve the world's natural wonders.

The Plot of Gorillas in the Mist

"Gorillas in the Mist" is a compelling narrative that explores the life of the famed primatologist Dian Fossey, portrayed by Sigourney Weaver. Set against the backdrop of the lush, perilous jungles of Rwanda, the story follows Fossey’s remarkable journey from a naive, nature-loving scientist to a fierce protector of mountain gorillas, who are threatened by rampant poaching and loss of habitat.

Diane Fossey (Sigourney Weaver) playing with gorilla

The film begins with Fossey leaving her comfortable life in the United States to conduct research on gorillas in the wild. She sets up a research center, aptly named Karisoke, between the volcanic mountains of Karisimbi and Visoke. Here, she begins her pioneering study of gorillas, gradually gaining their trust and forming a deep, unspoken connection with them.

However, the harmony is disrupted as Fossey's gorillas face relentless threats from poachers and the corrupt wildlife trade. Fossey transforms into a relentless crusader, fearlessly taking on poachers and local authorities to safeguard these gentle giants. Her unconventional methods and unwavering dedication spark controversy and conflict, both with the locals and her peers.

Diane Fossey (Sigourney Weaver) in war torn Rwanda

The plot takes a turn for the tragic when Fossey's fight for the gorillas becomes a fight for her life. Despite the looming threats and her tragic end, Fossey's passionate battle to save the gorillas from extinction leaves a lasting legacy. Through her undying commitment, she not only secured a future for these magnificent creatures but also changed the course of animal conservation forever.

Weaver's remarkable portrayal of Fossey paints a convincing, emotionally charged portrait of a woman whose indomitable spirit and love for the gorillas defined her life and her tragic end. "Gorillas in the Mist" is a poignant tale of courage, compassion, and the unbreakable bond between humans and nature, making it a must-watch for any film aficionado.

  • Sigourney Weaver as Dian Fossey: Weaver delivers a stellar performance as the passionate and dedicated primatologist, Dian Fossey. Her transformative portrayal of Fossey's dedication to the protection of mountain gorillas is both powerful and heart-wrenching.
  • Bryan Brown as Bob Campbell: Brown plays Bob Campbell, a National Geographic photographer and Fossey's on-and-off lover. His character adds a layer of complexity and personal drama to the story.
  • Julie Harris as Roz Carr: Harris portrays Roz Carr, Fossey's friend and supporter. Her role brings a sense of warmth and understanding to the narrative.
  • John Omirah Miluwi as Sembagare: Miluwi plays Fossey's loyal tracker, Sembagare. His character's dedication and quiet strength provide a solid backbone to the story.
  • Iain Cuthbertson as Dr. Louis Leakey: Cuthbertson portrays the renowned paleoanthropologist, Dr. Louis Leakey, who was instrumental in setting Fossey on her path in primatology. His character symbolises the scientific community's interest and stake in the preservation of the gorillas.

Review Score

Looking at Sigourney Weaver's portrayal of the relentless Dian Fossey, the cinematographic beauty of the Rwandan jungle, and the heart-wrenching narrative of "Gorillas in the Mist", this film is unreservedly awarded a score of 7 out of 10. The film's strong message of conservation, combined with compelling performances, makes it a must-see for any cinema lover. A point is deducted for some scenes that may feel a bit prolonged, but overall, the film is a powerful representation of passion, dedication, and the fight for conservation.

The Corporate Climb in 'Working Girl' (1988)

Working Girl' (1988)

Swapping out spaceships and jungles for the skyscrapers of Wall Street, Sigourney Weaver took on the world of corporate America in the 1988 hit, "Working Girl". Swapping her space suit for shoulder pads, Weaver gracefully slipped into the role of Katharine Parker, a stylish and savvy business executive.

As the ambitious and sophisticated boss to Melanie Griffith's Tess McGill, Weaver showcased yet another side of her acting prowess. Katharine Parker was cunning, intelligent, and poised, a testament to Weaver's ability to embody a spectrum of characters. She was the Gorgon of the corporate labyrinth, a fitting adversary to Tess's tenacious aspirant.

"Working Girl" was a nod to the changing times, a glimpse into the corporate glass ceiling, and a cheeky salute to the women ready to shatter it. The film was an effervescent cocktail of '80s fashion, sharp dialogue, and a dollop of romance, all set against the dazzling backdrop of the Big Apple.

Katherine Parker pointing walking cruch

Though Weaver's character was the antagonist, you couldn't help but admire her poise and wit. And let's face it, she rocked those power suits like nobody's business. Weaver brought Katharine to life with a delightful blend of charm and ruthlessness, making her a character you loved to hate.

Her performance, needless to say, was applauded, bagging her a Golden Globe and an Academy Award nomination. So, if you're hankering for a glimpse of Sigourney Weaver conquering the corporate jungle, pop "Working Girl" into your VCR (or, find it on your streaming platform of choice!). As always, Weaver delivers a performance that's nothing short of spectacular.

The Plot of Working Girl

"Working Girl" is a smart and savvy exploration of ambition, betrayal, and the struggle to break the glass ceiling. The film introduces us to Tess McGill (played by Melanie Griffith), a hardworking secretary with big dreams of making it in the world of finance. Unfortunately, her ambitions are stifled by her current position and her boss, Katharine Parker (played by Sigourney Weaver), who belittles her ideas and keeps her under her thumb.

Tess McGill, Jack Trainer and Katherine Parker in the office: Working Girl 1988

The plot thickens when Katharine breaks her leg while skiing and Tess seizes the opportunity to step into her boss's designer shoes. Discovering that Katharine plans to steal one of her ideas, Tess decides to take matters into her own hands and puts her own career at stake to see her vision come to fruition.

She teams up with investment broker Jack Trainer (played by Harrison Ford) and together they work tirelessly to close a major deal. Amidst the tension and drama of the corporate world, Tess and Jack kindle a romance, complicating matters as Tess navigates through her double life.

Katherine Parker in bed with broken leg: Working Girl 1988

The climax arrives when Katharine returns and exposes Tess's deceit. However, Tess, with her spirited determination and quick thinking, manages to turn the tables. The film culminates in a satisfying finale wherein Tess's hard work finally pays off, and she lands the job of her dreams.

In "Working Girl", Sigourney Weaver effortlessly portrays the intimidating yet charismatic Katharine Parker, showcasing her versatile acting capabilities. The film intertwines elements of comedy, drama, and romance to create an engaging narrative on the trials and tribulations of breaking through in the corporate world.

Cast and Characters of 'Working Girl'

  • Sigourney Weaver as Katharine Parker: A polished and shrewd executive, Weaver's Katharine Parker is a compelling portrayal of corporate ruthlessness masked by charisma.
  • Melanie Griffith as Tess McGill: Griffith brings to life Tess McGill, a determined secretary with lofty ambitions, representing the spirit of every woman fighting to shatter the glass ceiling.
  • Harrison Ford as Jack Trainer: Ford plays Jack Trainer, the suave investment broker who becomes Tess's ally and love interest, adding a layer of romance to the corporate drama.
  • Alec Baldwin as Mick Dugan: Baldwin's Mick Dugan is Tess's unambitious boyfriend, offering a stark contrast to Tess's driven character.
  • Joan Cusack as Cyn: Cusack shines as Cyn, Tess's vibrant friend and co-worker, providing comic relief with her colourful persona and Queens accent.
  • Oliver Platt as David Lutz: Platt's character, David Lutz, is a fellow secretary at the firm, whose smarmy antics underscore the cutthroat nature of the corporate world.

Review Score

On a scale of 1 to 10, 'Working Girl' comfortably earns 6 out of 10 from us at 80s Stuff. The film's charm lies in its blend of sharp dialogue, appealing performances, and a narrative that captures the spirit of ambition and resilience. Sigourney Weaver, with her portrayal of Katharine Parker, adds a compelling layer of sophistication and cunning, enhancing the film's overall appeal. Despite being a product of its time, 'Working Girl' still resonates today, making it a must-watch for fans of smart, spirited cinema.

Ghostbusters II: A Spectral Sequel

Ghostbusters II (1989) movie poster

After her corporate escapade in "Working Girl", Sigourney Weaver returned to the supernatural realm in the 1989 sequel "Ghostbusters II". Reprising her role as Dana Barrett, Weaver once again found herself in the midst of paranormal pandemonium. The Ghostbusters, led by Bill Murray's Peter Venkman, are back in business, and Dana - now a single mother - must rely on their spectral expertise to save her baby from an ancient, malevolent spirit.

The sequel, while not enjoying the same commercial success as its predecessor, still held its own with a mix of comedy, camaraderie, and the catchiest theme song in ectoplasmic history. Weaver's portrayal of Dana Barrett, now more mature and grounded, reflects her character's evolution. She is resilient and loving, protective of her child, and yet retains the spark that made her such a memorable part of the original Ghostbusters ensemble.

Dana Barrett: Ghostbusters II (1989)

"Ghostbusters II" capitalised on the charm of its predecessor while introducing new spectral challenges and strengthening the bonds between the ghost-busting crew. There was no shortage of laughs or special effects in this sequel, and while it may not have shattered box office records, it did reinforce the enduring appeal of the Ghostbusters franchise. It also showed us a new side to Sigourney Weaver's acting range, reminding us that whether she's fighting off corporate sharks or spectral villains, she does so with an undeniable flair.

If you're in the mood for a nostalgic trip back to the '80s, filled with laughs, special effects, and a healthy dose of the supernatural, then "Ghostbusters II" is a sequel well worth revisiting.

The Plot of 'Ghostbusters II'

"Ghostbusters II" takes place five years after the Ghostbusters saved New York City from the destructive Gozer.

Vigo the Carpathian painting: Ghostbusters II (1989)

The sequel starts with our heroes out of business, reduced to performing at children's parties and hosting television shows. Sigourney Weaver's character, Dana Barrett, is now a single mother working as an art restorer at the Manhattan Museum of Art. The plot kicks off when her baby's pram mysteriously takes off down the streets of New York, indicating the presence of paranormal activity.

Investigating the strange occurrence, the Ghostbusters discover a river of pink, mood-altering slime running beneath the city streets, feeding off negative emotions and growing more powerful. The slime is connected to a centuries-old Carpathian tyrant named Vigo the Carpathian, whose portrait Dana is restoring at the museum. Vigo seeks to return to the living world by possessing Dana's baby, Oscar.

Dana: Ghostbuster II (1989)

The Ghostbusters must combat the public's negativity and reunite to save the city from Vigo's spectral threat. Amidst their supernatural battle, they also fight to regain the city's trust and restore their tarnished reputation. With a blend of comedy, action, and heart, "Ghostbusters II" delivers a worthy follow-up to the original film, showcasing the Ghostbusters' unwavering camaraderie in the face of paranormal adversity.

Cast and Characters of 'Ghostbusters II'

  • Bill Murray as Dr. Peter Venkman: The charming and wisecracking leader of the Ghostbusters, Venkman often serves as the group's spokesperson.
  • Dan Aykroyd as Dr. Raymond "Ray" Stantz: As the heart of the Ghostbusters, Ray is enthusiastic, eager, and often the driving force behind the Ghostbusters' plans.
  • Harold Ramis as Dr. Egon Spengler: The brains of the team, Egon is deeply interested in the scientific aspect of their ghost-catching operations.
  • Ernie Hudson as Winston Zeddemore: Originally hired as the 'everyman' addition to the team, Winston often provides a grounded perspective amongst his eccentric colleagues.
  • Sigourney Weaver as Dana Barrett: A single mother and the Ghostbusters' former client, Dana finds herself once again enmeshed in paranormal events.
  • Rick Moranis as Louis Tully: Previously Dana's nerdy neighbour, Louis becomes the Ghostbusters' legal counsel.
  • Annie Potts as Janine Melnitz: The Ghostbusters' sarcastic and resourceful secretary.
  • Peter MacNicol as Janosz Poha: The creepy art curator at the museum where Dana works, who becomes an unwilling accomplice to Vigo.
  • William Atherton as Walter Peck: A former Environmental Protection Agency inspector, Peck becomes a city hall official with a grudge against the Ghostbusters.
  • David Margulies as Mayor Lenny: The Mayor of New York City, who once again requires the Ghostbusters' services to save the city.

Review Score

"Ghostbusters II" earns a not so good 5 out of 10 for its clever mix of humour, heart, and supernatural hijinks. Despite the high expectations following the success of the first film, this sequel manages to hold its own, thanks in large part to the charismatic cast and creative storytelling. The film's charm lies in its nostalgic nod to the 80s, brilliant performances, notably from Sigourney Weaver, and a narrative that captures the essence of camaraderie and resilience.

Sigourney Weaver's Contribution to 1980s Cinema

Sigourney Weaver's contributions to 1980s cinema extend beyond her memorable roles. She brought a depth and versatility to her performances that were somewhat rare amongst female actors of the era. Her role in "Alien" (1979) and its sequel "Aliens" (1986) established her as an action heroine, a genre largely dominated by male actors. As Ellen Ripley, Weaver combined strength and vulnerability, creating a complex, believable character that resonated with audiences and critics alike.

Weaver's performance in "Ghostbusters" (1984) and its sequel "Ghostbusters II" (1989) showcased her comedic timing and her ability to effortlessly shift from drama to comedy. As Dana Barrett, she played a grounded, realistic character amidst the supernatural chaos, providing a relatable point of view for the audience. Her return in the sequel, this time as a single mother, added a new dimension to the character, reinforcing her range as an actress.

In "Working Girl" (1988), Weaver demonstrated her skill in playing a more antagonistic role. Her portrayal of the ambitious and ruthless Katharine Parker was a departure from her previous roles, proving her versatility as an actress.

Sigourney Weaver's roles in the 1980s set a precedent for strong, independent female characters in cinema. She broke the mould of the typical damsel in distress often seen in action and sci-fi films, paving the way for future female protagonists. Her performances were nuanced, multifaceted and often challenged gender stereotypes, contributing to a shift in the portrayal of women on the big screen. Her impact on 1980s cinema is undeniable, and her legacy continues to influence contemporary film.+