Having emigrated to New York and immediately got the kiss-off from her mother-besotted fiance, a Dutch lass takes a well-paid office job and starts liberally sampling the local male talent.... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Lovelady Powell ...
...
J. Arthur Conrad
...
Carl Gordon
...
Mrs. Gordon
...
Fred
...
The Cop
Owen Hollander ...
Lt. Taggert
Barton Heyman ...
Dirty Harry
...
Albert Ruffleson
...
Cynthia
Trish Hawkins ...
Chris
Pal Henry ...
Aurora
Donna Mitchell ...
Lucille
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Storyline

Having emigrated to New York and immediately got the kiss-off from her mother-besotted fiance, a Dutch lass takes a well-paid office job and starts liberally sampling the local male talent. After a while she decides to make her pleasure her business too, and as her reputation grows she graduates to a high-class bordello. Soon she realises she has the right talents to make a real success of a place of her own. Written by Jeremy Perkins <jwp@aber.ac.uk>

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A Real Woman Tells The Truth See more »

Genres:

Biography | Comedy

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »
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Details

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Release Date:

14 January 1976 (France)  »

Also Known As:

A Alegre Libertina  »

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Sound Mix:

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Valerie Perrine sought the lead role of Xaviera Hollander however the United Artists movie studio felt Perrine should not do this movie as it would distract attention away from her performance in Lenny (1974) which could get her an Academy Award nomination. Perrine did get Oscar nominated as Best Actress in a Leading Role for Lenny (1974). See more »

Quotes

The Leader: [confronting Xaviera in a female prison cell] Hey, big shit madame bitch. Bet you ain't got no black ass turning tricks in your high-class fuckin' house.
Cowgirl: Oh, she afraid the black's gonna rub off all over her beautiful white sheets, ain't ya, honey?
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Soundtracks

"The Happy Hooker
Music and Lyrics by Robin Moore
Produced by Robin Moore and Richard Rome
Sung by Mary Olga
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User Reviews

One of my all-time favorites
1 December 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I loved this film from the first time I saw it, on cable, as a kid. It's the first movie I ever saw that was about sex from beginning to end but could've been rated G, or at least PG. No one is shown having sex, and it's discussed in such a clinical way it DOES become the "business of pleasure." Of course, a literal film adaptation of the book by Xaviera Hollander would have to be a porn film. I'm glad this movie isn't like that. I've never seen anything like it.

Lynne Redgrave, newly slim after "Georgy Girl," plays Xaviera, a young woman who has flown to New York to marry a man she met in South Africa. Once there she meets his bitchy old hag of a mom and the deal falls apart. She hits the 70's singles bar scene ("I've never been shy and I love sex, so why not?" Well yeah...why not?) and after that gets old meets up with a free-spirited Frenchman who pays her "for the pleasure of her company." At first she's insulted he's treated her like a whore, then she realizes if she's going to be sleeping around so much, why not get some fringe benefits too? Circumstances lead her to joining the brothel of a wonderfully obscene older madame and then branching out on her own before the movie ends on a surprisingly somber note, at Christmastime.

Lynne carries the movie, of course, and one of the main joys is just watching her work. It's clear she'd only do the film with limitations, as there's no nudity on her part (or much else, really), and only a few "daring" scenes (a spontaneous lesbian act is more like a carefully choreographed "sensual dance" than an act of sex). It's a "Julie Andrews" version of what it means to be a prostitute, Lynn never gets her hands, or anything else, sullied and I was captivated by that aspect of it all. Not to mention that her make-up, hair and Anne Roth costumes, and her stature, make her look like a drag queen, even among the other characters of the film.

There are so many weird and wonderful joys to the movie though. A bevy of second-rate/down on their luck stars--how did they get them all for THIS movie??--including Jean-Pierre Aumont, Tom Poston, Elizabeth Wilson, Conrad Janis, Richard Lynch, Anita Morris and a cameo by the wonderful Vincent Shiavelli as a stoned-out john. This was the first I learned about fetishes, "We have French, Greek, we can take you around the world!", a German dominatrix who "comes in for special assignments" and a pretty young woman who describes being sexually abused as a child...right before the john who has bought her takes her upstairs to re-enact those very "crimes." When the john asks her if it's OK if they can do this, the hooker responds with understanding and enthusiasm, "Of course...!" and later you realize it's just her "routine." In this way, most of the brothel scenes come off like musical numbers, and it's curious, captivating and often slyly funny.

All this is done with a happy-go-lucky t.v. sitcom mentality that suits the proceedings well. With a heavier hand it would be ugly and dreary. There are plenty of movies out there that discuss how awful prostitution really is and how ugly sex can get, or show endless shots glorifying women's bare breasts (the sequels took this route to dull effect). Here's a REAL movie about women who have almost complete control over their bodies and minds, and the men who pay them, and all these ladies are unashamed and strong in their convictions that what they are doing is right for them. The fact that the end isn't exactly a happy one doesn't take away from this, it only reinforces it. Xaviera tells her lawyer, who'd like her to entertain some of his friends, that when she "finds a bed," to have them call her. All the women will go on and the cycle will go on--Xaviera points it out when a group of little Italian boys harass them. "You're all little boys," she says with weary, but compassionate, understanding to the shopkeeper who apologizes on their behalf.

She also has the thematic line of the film, "I was able to bring something romantic to it {her "work"} simply because I loved it." There are worse things, and far worse movies. For it's flaws, which are many (sloppy editing, cheapness, lack of logic and yes, lack of realism) there are great lines ("We got a primadonna up there who thinks her ass is cast in platinum..." "Before I knew it I'd gone from office girl to working girl" "I...I think they're fagz! Ernie and Bert on Sesame Street!") and it's that rarity of a movie that reads differently if you're an adult than if you're a kid. I had no idea what it was about as a kid, but I enjoyed it all the same.

Oh, and not to forget Anita Morris in the only real nude scenes, being turned into "The Human Ice Cream Sundae" while she cackles hysterically. Weird and unforgettable, but not for those craving hot sex scenes, or a frank treatment of the world's oldest profession.

The fact that it ends with a Christmas party makes it must-see holiday viewing in my house, oddly enough, alongside "Christmas Evil."

**update** This was recently released on DVD which is great, but only in an old fashioned matted letterbox version, not a cleaned up anamorphic version for wide screen, which is a bummer!


12 of 16 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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