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The Happy Hooker
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The Happy Hooker More at IMDbPro »

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13 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

One of my all-time favorites

Author: TonyDood from United States
1 December 2005

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!

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6 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

An X rated Life played to Mainstream for R rated Humor

Author: lambiepie-2 from Los Angeles, CA
4 February 2004

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Lynn Redgrave and the 70's. This film is quite the cliché. If anyone wants to look back at the early 70's for research, this is a film to see.

Xaviera Hollander was the beginning of the exposure of modern day Madame in a so-called clean American world. This movie tells of how she got there, what she did once she was there and why. Whether one agrees with that lifestyle or not, this is quite interesting to say the least. I would guess that "The Mayflower Madame" Sydney Biddle Barrows and Hedi Fleiss got their ques from Miss Hollander.

But what get me about THIS film is that -- it's a pretty much a Hollywood mainstream telling of the tale. Of course, it would have been obviously for this film to go the X rated 70's route....but it did not. It tells the tale deftly, but it tells the tale. This is not a titillating romp as the title suggests and I think a lot of guys renting this film will be very disappointed.

"The Happy Hooker" plays like a 70's soap opera. Over dramatized, lotsa 70's funky fashion, make up and hair, stiff acting but acting just enough to maybe keep you interested in the tale. It is about the "tale" more than anything else in this version.

(Some spoilers) Miss Hollander is a woman who falls in love and is invited to America to marry but upon coming here, she learns that he's a momma's boy. She is then thrust in a country she knows little about, gets into many hateful situations and falls into being a call girl in a house with an understanding, but tired, Madame. How does she get happy? well, Xaviera buys out this Madame when an opportunity presents itself and off she goes.

While this has all the elements of being a tawdry sex romp with lots of "t" and "a" and sex, it's NOT played that way.

What you do see is the "difference" in the types of Hookers of the 70' least, the difference as Miss Hollander sees it: the street hookers versus the house hookers. You can tell that Miss Hollander felt that house hookers were more elite than street hookers..that was until they met face to face and found out they were all doing the same thing.

It is a film of the 70's, and this spawned a few "Happy Hooker" sequels that aren't as good (and that's not saying much) as this one. But the wonderful Lynn Redgrave does a nice job of playing one of America's best known Madame for a mainstream audience.

If you're a Lynn Redgrave fan, you might enjoy this one. If you're a fan of the early 70's fashions/attitudes and when New York was crummy, you might like this film. If you're a pornography fan looking for titillation...this is DEFINATELY not the film for you.

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7 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

And this was R rated because...?

Author: preppy-3 from United States
19 August 2008

Purportedly this is supposed to be a film version of Xavier Hollander's X rated book. What you get is a PG version of it! Seriously--what were they thinking? A good strong R rated version of her book could have been made but this one wimps out completely. There's no sex and no nudity (unless you count a shot of a guys butt as nudity). It's sanitized to the point where you could have gotten Julie Andrews to do it! There's talk about sex but it's hardly explicit and certainly not enough to warrant an R rating. Even worse it's pretty dull. Hard to believe that a movie about a woman who was a prostitute could be dull--but it is! Lynn Redgrave gives a very good performance (that's why i give this a 3) but that's not enough to recommend this. The sequels were much more explicit (and more fun). Not worth anyone's time.

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8 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Strong outfits, weak plot.

Author: scorpio-x from Las Vegas
16 July 2001

Well, there's not much smut to be had here. Not much humor, really, either. So what does this film have to recommend it? Well, Lynn Redgrave wears a series of smashing early-70s outfits--floppy hats, go-go boots, backless evening gowns, big-sleeved minidresses... and the other hookers have some fresh attire as well (some charming negligees, lavender disco dresses, etc.). And some of the scenes of her tricks are mildly amusing (although many inadvertently so), particularly the one where she does a reverse striptease while reciting a business report.

Still, it starts off excruciatingly slow and you can see what plot twists there are coming a mile away with bludgeoning sticks in hand. And the party scenes in the brothel aren't nearly as much fun as you'd expect, considering as the 70s was a golden era for movie party scenes and this is supposedly a whorehouse. Not worth watching, really, although it is worth flipping back and forth to if there's not much else on.

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10 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

A very tame adult comedy

Author: Jack Smith - The King Of Horror from West Bromwich, England
5 October 2000

A very tame adult comedy that despite its title and its somewhat of a cult reputation does not contain any sex whatsoever (unless I missed something). There was an opportunity here to create a seriously dirty film but you get the sense that the makers were to gutless to take the chance. Instead all you are left with is a mildly amusing comedy where the most explicit image is Lynn Redgrave in her panties. A disappointment.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

An extremely amiable, but much too toned down diversion

Author: Woodyanders ( from The Last New Jersey Drive-In on the Left
30 May 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Brassy, shrewd, and resourceful Dutch lady Xaviera Hollander (a marvelously sexy and vibrant performance by Lynn Redgrave, who looks absolutely ravishing) comes to America and becomes a much sought after call girl. Pretty soon Xaviera is the highly successful madam of a posh New York City bordello that provides assorted "services" to a diverse array of clients. Director Nicholas Sgarro and writer William Richert do a good job of maintaining an engagingly breezy'n'easy tone throughout and neatly peg the whole anything-goes swinging 70's zeitgeist, but crucially fail to depict the various kinky sexual fetishes in a more appropriately daring and explicit manner. There's precious little nudity and the sex is disappointingly mild and inoffensive stuff, but the prevalent good-natured sensibility and several funny moments (for example, Xaviera does a hysterical reverse striptease while reciting a business report for some pervy CEO!) ensure that this picture still passes muster as a perfectly engaging diversion. Moreover, the cast have a field day with their colorful roles: Redgrave positively glows with her radiant portrayal of the clever and headstrong Xaviera, Jean-Pierre Aumont is likewise a charming treat as suave French high roller Yves St. Jacques, Lovelady Powell does well as classy no-nonsense madam Madelaine, plus there are nifty bits by Nicholas Pryor as Xariera's meek, narcissistic fiancé Carl Gordon, Conrad James as wormy sleazeball Fred, Richard Lynch as a bullying cop, George Dzundza and Kenneth Tiger as a couple of bumbling businessmen, Vincent Schiavelli as a stoned pot-smoking music guru and Anita Morris as the sassy Mary Smith. Richard C. Kratina's glossy cinematography gives the movie an attractive polished look. Don Elliott's lush and funky score hits the right-on groovy spot. Comes close to scoring a bull's eye, but falls a tad short because of its rather frustrating and unnecessary use of restraint and an overall tastefulness that negates the seamier aspects of the sordid subject matter.

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8 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

Tame and lame "adult" comedy based upon the 70's most famous madam!

Author: Miyagis_Sweaty_wifebeater ( from Sacramento, CA
21 June 2004

The Happy Hooker (1975) was loosely based upon the best seller about of the era's most popular and successful madam's. Lynn Redgrave stars as the happy one. But the film is just bad in all aspects. It fails at being an "adult" comedy and it fails at being a biography. I wouldn't even catagorize it in the "trying too hard" section because it didn't even do that. Boring stuff that deserves to be buried. May it never see the light of day. By the way, this movie ruined my tastes for sundaes and banana splits. Don't watch this one. The sequels are a lot better than this one. That's not saying much either because they're both bad.

Followed by "Happy Hooker Goes to Washington" and "Happy Hooker Goes to Hollywood". Too tame and way too lame.

Not recommended.


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