Tootsie

  • Directors: Sydney Pollack
  • Producers: Sydney Pollack, Dick Richards
  • Writers: Larry Gelbart, Murray Schisgal, Barry Levinson, Elaine May
  • Genres: Comedy, Drama, Romance
  • Actors: Dustin Hoffman, Jessica Lange, Teri Garr, Dabney Coleman

Michael Dorsey (Dustin Hoffman) is a respected but perfectionist actor on the verge of turning forty. Nobody in New York wants to hire him anymore because he is so difficult to work with or he is either too old or too young for a role. Not having worked in four months, he eventually hears of an opening on the soap opera Southwest General (a parody of General Hospital) from his friend Sandy Lester (Teri Garr), who initially tries out for the role but doesn’t get it. In desperation, he cross-dresses, auditions as ”Dorothy Michaels” and eventually wins the part.

Michael thinks it is just a temporary job to pay the bills, but he proves to be so popular as a feisty hospital administrator that, to his dismay, the producers sign him to a long-term contract. Dorothy is such a hit that she is even featured on the covers of a number of well-known magazines.

The masquerade begins to fall to pieces when Michael is caught by Sandy while taking off his clothes and to try on hers (to get more ideas for Dorothy’s outfits). He tries to stall the moment by seducing Sandy and reluctantly starting a romantic relationship with her, which proves to be difficult because of Sandy’s neurotic personality and incredibly low self-esteem.

Some weeks later, Michael, having made amends with Julie’s father, waits for her outside the studio and touchingly confesses that “…I was a better man with you as a woman than I ever was with a woman as a man” and since he already became good friends as Dorothy he claims “I just gotta learn how to do it without the dress.” She forgives him and they have a cheerful argument over Julie wanting to wear one of Michael’s outfits.

Big Fish

  • Directors: Tim Burton
  • Producers: Richard D Zanuck
  • Writers: Daniel Wallace, John August
  • Genres: Drama, Fantasy, Comedy, Adventure
  • Actors: Ewan McGregor, Albert Finney, Billy Crudup, Jessica Lange, Alison Lohman, Steve Buscemi, Danny DeVito

At his son’s wedding party, Edward Bloom tells the same tale he’s told many times over the years: on the day Will was born, he was out catching an enormous uncatchable fish, using his wedding ring as bait. Will is annoyed rather than pleased by this tale-telling; he explains to his wife, Josephine, that because his father never told the straight truth on anything but insisted on embellishing it with tales, he felt that he could not trust him. He is troubled to think that he might have a similarly difficult relationship with his future children.

Will becomes a journalist in Paris, and his relationship with his father becomes so strained that they do not talk for three years. But when his father’s health starts to fail, Will and his pregnant wife Josephine return to Alabama. On the plane, Will recalls his father’s tale of how he braved a swamp as a child, and met a witch who showed him his death in her glass eye. With this knowledge, Edward knows there are no odds he cannot face.

Edward still has a knack for tall tales. As he tells it, he spent three years confined to a bed as a child, with his body growing incredibly fast. He became a successful sports player but found the town of Ashton too small for his ambition. Finding a kindred spirit in the misunderstood giant Karl, they set off. Edward takes an abandoned path down a supposedly haunted forest. He discovers the tiny hidden town of Spectre, where the missing poet Norther Winslow has settled with people so friendly that no one ever leaves, and everyone comfortably walks around barefoot. Edward still feels he does not want to settle anywhere yet and leaves, but promises to the young girl Jenny that he will return.

At his funeral, Will sees many of his father’s more unusual friends, confirming at least a grain of truth from many of his tales. He sees Amos, Karl, Ping and Jing and Norther Winslow amongst others, although they are not entirely the same as in the stories, (for example, Ping and Jing were Siamese not as in conjoined, but as in “from Siam”—i.e. Thailand, also, Karl turned out to be just a tall man, not an ogre). When his own son is born, Will passes on his father’s stories, remarking that his father became his stories, allowing him to live forever.