Secretaries, or administrative assistants as they're more modernly referred to, are the lifeblood of most businesses. While the executives and middle-management worry about bottom lines, mergers and all things business, the secretaries are what keep things moving forward by answering phones, serving refreshments and setting schedules. As such, whenever a film features someone in a position of power, you can rest assured that there will be a secretary onscreen at some point, many of them doing much more than answering phones.
Erin Brockovich, "Erin Brockovich"
"Erin Brockovich" is the true story of a single mother turned legal secretary. When she begins her job, she's seen as something of a joke by the local community thanks to her style of dress and down-home mannerisms. Defying all odds, Ms. Brockovich starts investigating the Pacific Gas & Electric Company, learns that they're the dictionary definition of an evil corporation and hands them their ass on a hexavalent chromium-covered platter. The real Erin Brockovich now runs her own consulting firm, proving that being a secretary doesn't mean you'll never be more than a flunkie.
Marion Crane, "Psycho"
At the beginning of the film "Psycho," Marion Crane seems to be the film's protagonist. As a simple secretary, she doesn't have the money she needs for the wedding of her dreams, so she steals $40,000 from one of her employer's clients and high-tails it out of town. The rest is history, as watching her get stabbed to death in a shower has become one of the great horror scenes of all time. When you think about it, it was kind of justified. Karma is like that.
Andrea Sachs, "The Devil Wears Prada"
When one thinks of evil bosses and overworked assistants, Andrea Sachs is the figure that springs to mind. Whether it is walking a dog, getting a car tuned up, finding the unreleased "Harry Potter" manuscript for her bosses children or flying to Paris to satisfy her boss's every whim, Andrea spends the entirety of the film losing her own identity as she struggles to make good in the publishing world. By the end of the story she equally disappoints and impresses the tyrant she works for, but it's the journey there that proves that a secretary's job is more than answering phones.
Andrew Paxton, "The Proposal"
The reason the word "secretary" is commonly being replaced with "administrative assistant" is due to the fact that there is a gender bias relating secretary with "woman's work." Andrew Paxton begins the film "The Proposal" as a male version of Andrea Sachs, kowtowing to his evil boss. However, things go in a completely different direction for him when his boss (Sandra Bullock) proposes to him in order to keep from being deported back to Canada. From that point, roles get confused as his duties extend past getting unsweetened cinnamon light soy lattes (it's like Christmas in a cup) and answering phones to convincing the world he's in love with the person he thinks is the Idi Amin of publishing.
Lee Holloway, "Secretary"
The dream secretary of every adult male with a secretary fetish, Lee Holloway is a timid, self-abusive former mental patient looking for a job when she stumbles on a position at a law office. As she develops a relationship with her boss (James Spader), she turns into a sexy, submissive love slave. Answering phones and scheduling appointments becomes second to fulfilling the wishes of the man she aims to please. In the end, she gets exactly what she wants by giving him exactly what he wants.
Marcella, "Grosse Pointe Blank" (Honorable Mention)
Really, Marcella doesn't quite fit on this list because she really doesn't do much but answer phones while she is a secretary. However, it's her unwavering love for her boss after she's told she no longer has a job that demands mention. Performing the task that every secretary dreams of, she trashes the entire office before sending it up in flames. What secretary doesn't hope for that kind of wish fulfillment?