A suspense thriller decidedly lacking in thrills, THE SECRETARY stars Sheila Kelley (from TV's "L.A. Law") as an ambitious office worker who'll stop at nothing to get ahead. Produced as a CBS made-for-television movie in 1994, THE SECRETARY was released on video in 1995.
Eight years after witnessing her boss kill himself because she broke off their relationship, former stockbroker Ellen Bradford (Mel Harris) returns to the work force. She meets secretary Deidre (Kelley), who gives her pointers on impressing the boss, Les (Raymond Baker). Les plans to hire the
other candidate, Richard Josephson (Robert Lipton), but Deidre wants Ellen to get the job, so she forges a letter from Josephson declining the position. She tells Josephson he has been rejected, and when he demands a meeting with the boss, she kills him; Ellen is hired. Deidre is later passed over
for a promotion that would have lifted her out of the secretarial pool after five years, sending her into a fury. Believing Ellen can help her get ahead, Deidre pokes into her background looking for information to use as leverage. Deidre uncovers the suicide of Ellen's former boss and plots an
elaborate scheme to recreate the events and blackmail Ellen. She arranges a late-night work meeting between Ellen and a co-worker, Ted (James Russo), then murders Ted and makes it look like a suicide. Deidre warns Ellen that she has evidence which will implicate her in Ted's murder. Ellen realizes
that when her past history is revealed, no one will believe she is innocent.
Deidre demands that Ellen help her embezzle six million dollars. To convince her to cooperate, Deidre goes after Ellen's husband Eric (Barry Bostwick), crushing his legs under a jeep. She later abducts their daughter Cindy (Ashley Peldon). Knowing that her daughter's life depends on her
compliance, Ellen transfers the funds to Deidre's account, while covertly tape recording Deidre's admission of her crimes. Deidre's father Chuck (Richard Herd), who has been alerted of his daughter's actions by Ellen, arrives in time to talk Deidre out of killing Ellen. Deidre is arrested and
Ellen's family is reunited.
There is little that is original in THE SECRETARY. The formulaic plot takes its cues from FATAL ATTRACTION, THE HAND THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE, SINGLE WHITE FEMALE, and other psycho female flicks. As the secretary from Hell, Kelley is appropriately loony, but she lacks the sinister edge which made
Glenn Close, Rebecca DeMornay and Jennifer Jason Leigh so frightening in the previously mentioned films. The family she victimizes is sweet and likable, but there isn't enough tension generated to make you feel as though they are in any real danger. There is one spark of originality in a scene in
which Ellen outwits Deidre by planting two tape recorders, knowing Deidre will be looking for one and will stop searching when she finds the first device. From there the rest of the action is anticlimactic.(Violence, sexual situations, profanity.)
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 1994
- Rating: R
- Review: A suspense thriller decidedly lacking in thrills, THE SECRETARY stars Sheila Kelley (from TV's "L.A. Law") as an ambitious office worker who'll stop at nothing to get ahead. Produced as a CBS made-for-television movie in 1994, THE SECRETARY was released on… (more)