Tootsie movie poster

This year the National Society of Film Critics again chose the Golden Globe Best Musical or Comedy winner as their “best film of the year.” Tootsie, however, was not a happy experience for director Sydney Pollack. But then his star Dustin Hoffman gave every director he worked with a hard time.

Recently at an HFPA press conference, Hoffman confirmed it. “Yes, I was more combative then, and I have learned, not through making movies, but through therapy, that there were different ways of disagreeing. They were not the enemy, and I guess that is what I felt initially. I think the thing that upset me the most, and it still does, but I try to deal with it differently, is that there is a certain thing that you are after in every scene, and if a director is satisfied before you think you have gotten it, they say terrific, let’s go on and that gets you, because you don’t want to leave it until you have exhausted the chances of getting close to it. However, I think I am too old to not realize now that you can make your point without feeling that they are all against you.”

Fortunately, the result was gratifying. The film became an instant hit – it was the second biggest moneymaker of the year second only to Steven Spielberg’s E.T. – and it was a milestone in Hoffman’s fabled career. Undoubtedly it took guts for him to sign on for the part. Here was this huge box office award-winning star of The Graduate and Kramer vs. Kramer, playing a woman on screen, not for laughs but to make a serious statement about gender equality.

Dustin conducted extensive makeup tests before signing on. And despite his problem with directors, he was the one who recommended and then insisted that Pollack play a key role, that of his/her agent in the film. The screenplay by Larry Gelbart, Barry Levinson (uncredited), Elaine May (uncredited) and Murray Schisgal was based on an unproduced play by Don McGuire. The film won three Golden Globes: one for Best Motion Picture Musical or Comedy, another for Best Actor in a Comedy (Hoffman) and a third for Jessica Lange, Best Supporting Actress. The all-star cast also featured memorable turns from Bill Murray, Teri Garr, Dabney Coleman, Charles Durning, and Geena Davis.

The other nominees for Best Comedy or Musical were The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Diner, My Favorite Year, and Victor Victoria. Competing with Hoffman for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy were Peter O’Toole for My Favorite Year, Al Pacino for Author! Author!, Robert Preston for Victor/Victoria, and Henry Winkler for Night Shift. The nominees for Best Actress were Julie Andrews for Victor/Victoria, Carol Burnett for Annie, Sally Field for Kiss Me Goodbye, Goldie Hawn for Best FriendsDolly Parton for The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, and Aileen Quinn for Annie. Julie Andrews won for Victor /Victoria.