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Founded in 1910 just outside of the city limits of Gilbert located in Lanville County, Texas, the Chicken Ranch has for generations been known as the best whorehouse in Texas for its wholesome fun, strict moral code and cleanliness, all perpetuated by its original owner, Miss Wulla Jean. Seven years ago, Miss Wulla Jean passed on, leaving the Chicken Ranch to her favorite working girl, Miss Mona Stangley, who wants to keep the same traditions of Miss Wulla Jean. The Chicken Ranch has always had the unofficial blessing of the local authorities, who see the ranch providing an important community service, one which most in local authority have used at one time or another in their life. In fact, Miss Mona and Lanville County Sheriff Ed Earl Dodd have been in a relationship for years, Ed Earl who is Miss Mona's protector, albeit one with a hot temper and good ol' boy attitude that doesn't exactly match the needs of his law upholding position. That blessing may change when television ... Written by
The Texas county where Burt Reynolds is sheriff has only one thing that makes it stand out from all the other counties in the state. And I'm not referring to Dolly Parton's 40Ds. It's rather the old and established institution of the Chicken Ranch, The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas. Or maybe west of the Mississippi truth be told, if everyone left there as happy as they seem.
This film is a real gem, a timely and historical film as well as a fun country musical. The story is a true one, the names changed to protect the innocent as that other American institution used to say. Although few people but Dom DeLuise seem to have their innocence intact in this film.
In this county west of Houston for over 100 years servicing the veterans of five wars was the Chicken Ranch, The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas. It's existence was the most open secret in the state and everyone seemed happy with the arrangement. In fact the current owner, Dolly Parton, is a valued member of the community, paying her taxes and giving of money and time to community endeavors. She runs a disease free establishment and insists that of her customers.
But this was the time the Moral Majority was flexing it's muscles in the person of Dom DeLuise. He's really quite the scream as the crusading reporter going to close this den of vice and corruption. He stirs up quite the hornet's nest in the state.
Best scene of the film is the annual party for the winner of the Texas A&M, University of Texas football game. Those Aggies play hard and plow hard. And that's the night when DeLuise and his television crew decide to pull their own raid. The party is hosted by State Senator Robert Mandan playing the part in his best sanctimonious tradition.
Of course he pales beside Charles Durning as the governor of Texas. Durning was nominated for Best Supporting Actor and his political credo of never saying anything is embodied in that wonderful Sidestep number he has. Durning looks like he's having a great old time.
Carol Hall wrote the rollicking score for The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas and Dolly Parton also had the good sense to get a couple of her songs interpolated in the film, one of them her beloved I Will Always Love You. For all her good works Dolly is still the Madame of a bordello and that fact prevents her from being taken too seriously by Burt Reynolds as marriage material.
I'm sure the film was not a favorite of the late Jerry Falwell, DeLuise lampoons him so viciously. It is an entertaining reminder of times that sad to say haven't gone altogether away.
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