Throwing in the towel, calling it a day, taking your ball and going home. No matter how you describe it, quitting ain’t easy. Here are some movies to get you in the mood.
1. Magnificent Obsession (Douglas Sirk, 1954)
If callow playboy Rock Hudson can become a world-famous eye surgeon just to restore the sight of the woman he’s accidentally blinded, surely you can quit that temp job and finish your graphic design degree.
2. Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? (Frank Tashlin, 1957)
This aggressive, deluxe comedy excoriates American corporate culture in a way that only a film starring Tony Randall and Jayne Mansfield can, and it asks, “What happens when they won’t let you quit?”
3. The Apartment (Billy Wilder, 1960)
What does your boss really want from you? Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine find out the hard way when they’re forced to take their work home with them until they break.
4. Psycho (1960) and Marnie (1964)
Both of these Alfred Hitchcock films begin with women stealing from their bosses and taking it on the lam. What drives them to it? As if you didn’t know.
5. Carnival of Souls (Herk Harvey, 1962)The movie that asks the question “Can you quit your job if you’re already dead?”
6. Five Easy Pieces (Bob Rafelson, 1970)
Jack Nicholson finds out why he should quit working, quit playing music, quit talking to his family, and quit ordering sandwiches in restaurants.
7. Network (Sidney Lumet, 1976)
Sure you’re mad as hell and you’re not gonna take it anymore, but be careful: This film is such an unrelenting downer that you may want to write the Big Resignation Letter, the permanent one, after watching it.
8. Hardly Working (Jerry Lewis, 1981)
This amazing film, in which Jerry drifts tragically and incompetently from job to job before ending up as a wacked-out postal worker, was overlooked and reviled because it’s just too savage. P.S.: Never take a job in an auto glass installation shop.
9. When Night Is Falling (Patricia Rozema, 1995)As biracial lesbian circus dramas go, this one’s tops. Not only does it feature a professor who changes her life in a most radical way, it also gives us a ringmaster (mistress?) who wants to run away from the circus.
10. American Job (Chris Smith, 1996)
This is the only competition for Hardly Working in taking a chilling and hilarious look into the numbing pointlessness of life in the workplace. Perhaps the best film of 1996.