In this comedy, a woman discovers that it’s impossible to get ahead in business without a man to guide her — so she invents one. Laurel (Whoopi Goldberg) is an expert financial analyst with a top Wall Street brokerage; however, she keeps getting passed over for raises and promotions, and she’s convinced that no one at her firm takes her seriously because she’s a black woman.
Frustrated, Laurel and her loyal assistant Sally (Dianne Wiest) open a new firm, but Laurel discovers that her fears were based firmly in reality: male clients don’t want to take financial advice from women, especially women of color. So Laurel invents a white man, Robert S. Cutty, to be the firm’s top adviser. Speaking on Cutty’s behalf, Laurel passes along the fictional man’s advice, which her new clients find to be quite sound, and when they stop by to see him, he always manages to be out of the office (and why wouldn’t a man so successful be busy?).
The ruse seems to work, and soon Laurel’s business is going great guns, but an increasingly large number of her clients want to see Cutty face to face, which won’t be easy to pull off. However, with the help of a drag queen, Laurel tries to remake herself into Cutty for a night in order to keep her firm afloat. The Associate was based on a novel by author Jenaro Prieto.
The Associate is a 1996 American comedy film directed by Donald Petrie and written by Nick Thiel. The film, a remake of René Gainville’s 1979 French film of the same name, which, in turn, was based on Jenaro Prieto’s 1928 novel The Partner, stars Whoopi Goldberg, Dianne Wiest, Eli Wallach, Tim Daly, and Bebe Neuwirth, alongside Austin Pendleton and Lainie Kazan.
The Associate (1996)
Directed by: Donald Petrie
Starring: Whoopi Goldberg, Dianne Wiest, Tim Daly, Bebe Neuwirth, Eli Wallach, Lainie Kazan, George Martin, Helen Hanft, Miles Chapin, Jean De Baer
Screenplay by: Nick Thiel
Production Design by: Andrew Jackness
Cinematography by: Alex Nepomniaschy
Film Editing by: Bonnie Koehler
Costume Design by: April Ferry
Set Decoration by: Jessica Lanier
Art Direction by: Philip Messina
Music by: Christopher Young
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sensuality and an exotic dance club scene.
Distributed by: Buena Vista Pictures
Release Date: October 25, 1996