At 25, “Tootsie” Is As Fresh As Ever


I’m not an Academy Award nostalgia-monger: at least one movie nominated this year for Best Picture, “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly,” is one that I suspect I’ll want to watch again in 10 years time. Otherwise, this year’s Oscar pickings do not look like a crop that will age well. None of them has the sheen of a classic. This thought came to me the other night as I watched — for the millionth time — a TV broadcast of “Tootsie” on Turner Movie Classics. (The picture has just been released in a 25th-anniversary DVD.) This New York farce, starring Dustin Hoffman and directed by Sydney Pollack, has personal meaning for me: part of it was filmed in the Manhattan apartment building where I reside. It was nominated for the Best Picture Oscar, class of 1982. The other nominees were “E.T.”, “Gandhi,” “The Verdict,” and “Missing.” “Gandhi” won: it wasn’t the most egregious selection in Oscar history — not, say, on the order of Pearl Buck winning the Nobel Prize for Literature — but as the years fly the “Gandhi” win seems more and more a case of the Academy voting for what it thought should win rather than what members truly enjoyed. (I’ve always remembered the opening line of Pauline Kael‘s review of the Ben Kingsley saga: “Leaving the theatre where I saw ‘Gandhi,’ I felt the way the British must have when they left India: exhausted and relieved.” Watching “Tootsie” again this week, I felt the nostalgia not for Oscar winners but for an age when Hollywood could turn out comedies that were both intelligent and mass-appealing. The best big American comedies of 2007 — “Knocked-Up,” “Superbad” — were full of good big laughs but lacking in un-adolescent irony. I’m nostalgic for sophistication, I guess.

One Comment to “At 25, “Tootsie” Is As Fresh As Ever”

  1. Right on. I must watch Tootsie at least once a year. It is smart and funny, and unfortunately, still has comments on the gender bias that exist to this day.

Leave a Comment