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Sure, the movie shows some skin, but that's not all there is to it, so
let the prospect of that keep you from watching this movie. There's much
more to it than that. Sitting down to watch this film, you're immediately
drawn in by one of the most ambitious parts of the film - the history of
Chicken Ranch, decade by decade, depicted with singing, dancing and huge
productions that last only a moment, all set to the tune of "Twenty Fans"
and narrated by Jim Nabors.
Some people would probably be surprised to find that this movie was nominated for Best Motion Picture - Comedy/Musical in the 1983 Golden Globe awards. Dolly Parton was also nominated for a Golden Globe award in the Best Actress - Comedy/Musical category, while Charles Durning, in his role of the Texas governor, was nominated (quite rightly) for an Academy Award for Best Actor In A Supporting Role.
The best thing about the film is the character of Miss Mona, played by Dolly Parton. I read that Barbara Mandrell or Crystal Gayle were also up for the part, but I can't imagine anyone else playing Miss Mona. You can't help liking Miss Mona - she's not like any prostitute or madam the 1982 movie-going public had ever seen. She's a ray of sunshine, totally forthright, honest, optimistic, generous, open-hearted and sweet. She even contributes heavily to local charities and causes, and one of her lines is "Well, I always just thought if you see somebody without a smile, give 'em yours!" As usual in her films, Parton, who is a singer/songwriter, not a trained actress, holds her own and more. Her entrance, singing "Lil' Ole Bitty Pissant Country Place" as she slowly walks down the stairs in that red dress, is something else. Throughout the movie, Miss Mona's fiery temper and tender heart provide some of the most authentic moments.
Reynolds plays the character his audience loves best - the smart ass. And he plays it very well. This movie shows him in the character of a sheriff, which must have been amusing to moviegoers accustomed to seeing him outrunning sheriffs and state police in his "Smokey & The Bandit" movies. Ed Earl is a typical Reynolds character - getting most of the funniest lines, cussing up a storm, getting philosophical in his semi-ignorant way and defending Miss Mona to the best of his hot-tempered ability.
Dom DeLuise plays the part of Melvin P. Thorpe to perfection, right down to the corset and the stuffed pants. He is a delight. Perfect comic timing. "Watchdog Report/Texas Has a Whorehouse in It" is a production number that is completely right for him.
Jim Nabors is, well, Jim Nabors. I still laugh thinking about the opening line of the movie, delivered in his "GOL-LEE" tone: "It was the nicest little whorehouse you ever saw!" Nabors plays Deputy Fred, who also narrates the movie.
Also of note is Charles Durning as the governor of Texas, who is perfect as he schmoozes and avoids the facts. It is no surprise to me that this actor, who has now made over 100 movies, was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for this role. My favorite part of his brief airtime is the business with his cowboy hat (four or five times he puts his hat on sideways and then whirls to the side so that it falls correctly onto his head). His singing and dancing in "The Sidestep" pulls out no stops - you can't stop watching him. I couldn't help wondering how Steve Martin would have played this role, but Durning makes it his own.
The movie is, of course, a musical, and it was a musical before it was made into a movie - so we get lots of musical numbers, including one with the Aggie football team. If you like musicals, you will like this, because the songs were clearly written not to be hits, not to be videos, but to be part of a musical. Mona's Girls and the Aggies are not actors - they're extremely talented dancers, some of whom can sing.
The Aggies, who are supposed to be the Texas A & M football team, push their scenes to the limit. It does stretch dramatic license a bit when the football players have most of their clothes off and are dancing around the locker room - their physiques are clearly not football material - but no matter. Yee-haw!
Mona's girls have been chosen to represent many different physical types of women, and besides their obvious dancing talent, each gets a small solo (one or two lines) in one of the movie's final songs, "Hard Candy Christmas" (a song which sounds as if it was written by Parton but wasn't). This is, to me, the best song in the movie, and it's a shame that a different version was used on the soundtrack (in the movie, each girl sings a line or two, with Parton singing the choruses, but on the soundtrack version, Parton sings it all). Nothing against Parton, but I enjoyed hearing/seeing all the different reactions as expressed by their distinct voices as the girls faced their uncertain futures.
Parton also contributed two of her own original songs to the movie. "I Will Always Love You," which she originally wrote and released in 1974, became this film's love song and went to number one for a second time (of course, it went to number one again when covered by Whitney Houston in 1992. The other song that Dolly contributed is "Sneakin' Around" (a "9 to 5"-like duet between Parton and Reynolds). According to some information on the WWW, she also contributed other songs which were not used, including a song which she later re-wrote for "Rhinestone."
Looking back on this film from 18 years in the future, I'm sure that many people have a low opinion of it, but I think it's a classic. Supposedly based on a true story, this film invites you in and never lets you go, keeping you hooked with sharply written dialogue and fast-paced action. Once you start watching it, it's impossible to stop - some of the comedy is very subtle, and each performer seems perfectly cast and enthusiastically performs her or his role.
There aren't as many serious moments, but they are well-acted. Ed Earl and Miss Mona have a long-term relationship, spiced with something more perhaps? Miss Mona's face after her fight with Ed Earl conveys such weary hurt that you can't help wanting her to get a break. There's much more to this movie than Mona's girls. It's about friendship, tradition, honesty, promises and tolerance as well. Managing to express valid points and make a 1982 audience sympathize with prostitutes, it also manages to poke fun at society.
How could anyone not love this movie? Being a big fan of musicals
myself, I love this movie for the fun, campy performances, larger then
life, sassy, characters,smalltown southern charm, the surprisingly
sweet romance between Reynolds and Parton(I'm a big fan of both) and
the homage to the south in general-YEEHAW!!! This is a perfect movie to
watch directly after you've watched a heavy movie and want to "come
down". It's bright, fun and filled with wicked gaiety. Anyone who's a
fan of musicals should see this, I've seen many a stage show as well,
my one big regret is I never saw the play version of this.
I don't see how anyone could fault Burt Reynolds performance in this, in my opinion the casting choices-all of them-were as close to perfect as there is. Although I do not live in Texas, I have visited and hold a deep admiration for Texas and all it has to offer. I love movies about one of my favorite states in the country, as well as musicals, so this was a double plus. And everyone played their roles with such charm, Dolly was so lovable, Reynolds, the tough sheriff yet so decent at heart and Charles Durning as mentioned by nearly EVERYBODY was amazing.
This ranks up there as one of my all time top musicals, it's got so much gaiety and is so infectiously warm, inviting and a celebration of fun! A must see. 8 of 10.
Big, splashy, fun musical about a whorehouse (the Chicken Ranch) in
Texas run by Miss Mona (Dolly Parton). She's in love with the sheriff
(Burt Reynolds) and the town has no problem with the house. Then a
sleazy TV showman (Dom DeLuise) exposes the ranch and all hell breaks
This was a modest hit in 1982. It's easy to see why--it's full of energy and enthusiasm, has great songs and some fantastic all out production numbers. Reynolds is just OK but Parton is an absolute joy--she gives one of her best performances and even sings "I Will Always Love You" (I prefer Whitney's version). Also there is equal amounts of male and female nudity and has a healthy attitude about sex (this was made before AIDS was well-known about). And Charles Durning stops the show with his "sidestepping" number...he was nominated for Best Supporting Actor for this.
Only complaint is the ending. It's way too serious and realistic--I wish they had opted for a fairy tale like ending. Also Lois Nettleton's subplot is seriously underdeveloped--I assume it was shot but cut out for the running time.
See it and enjoy!
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.
Surprisingly good musical about the infamous "Chicken Ranch". The women
are pretty, the songs are good, the dancing is OK. I wasn't expecting
much, but I found the movie enjoyable, even fun to watch. Burt Reynolds
and Dolly Parton both give good performances. Great songs by Parton.
She sings "I Will Always Love You" even better than Whitney. Another
good song: "Sneaking Around with You" by both Parton and Reynolds. He
Get over the title and rent this one. I actually got the movie from my local public library. The movie does make some kind of statement on the issue of prostitution, but also on the power of the media. But don't expect lengthy analysis!
Seen at home, in Toronto, on April 20th, 2005. I first saw this movie in the early eighties.
The pure part of this film is Dolly's voice, with its warble, its touch
of yodel, its complete inability to resists little trills, mordents,
all the musical embellishments that are mirrored in her visual
presence, her couture. And since the sumptuous breasts are maybe even a
bit too much here--with many gown changes in the big numbers--that is
all the more striking that it is still the singing that stands out. Jim
Nabors, for example, takes some time to seem bearable to me, but
finally the whole context works; but the movie seems like it is going
to be horrible till Dolly's first phrase in the "Pissant Country Place"
Carol Hall's "Rock Candy Christmas" is a good number, but putting Dolly's "I Will Always Love You" was the smartest thing done musically here; in no way is the subsequent Whitney Houston version comparable in either sincerity or just naturalness of lovely sound--she uses little ornaments, too, but changes them as if to be original; all you really notice is that she didn't use the ones Dolly had already made perfect, as if they were as firm and fixed as the melody line itself. It was a considerably smarter thing than using "My Man" in 'Funny Girl', when "The Music that Makes Me Dance" would have made the show keep its original musical integrity; and leaving out the Ziegfeld Follies type numbers "Cornet Man" and "Rat-tat-tat" depleted this film, leaving it only great in moments ('Don't Rain on My Parade' is really the only great one.)
Burt Reynolds is a charmer as the sheriff and his and Dolly's affection for each other is sweet and moving. All of their scenes together work because they fully enjoy them, enjoy each other.
Certain big production numbers--the Aggies football players dancing in the locker room, then when they get to the Chicken Ranch, for example--seem to be low imitations of old Agnes de Mille choreography in 'Oklahoma', full of old-fashioned "cowboy high spirits" (one cannot keep from enjoying how non-cowboy most of the dancers must surely be) that have nothing new in them and merely seem mechanical.
It's a better Dolly Parton movie--though certainly not great--as a whole than 'Nine to Five', but nothing has ever quite surpassed the poetic genius of that picture's title song, in which Dolly has captured so basic a part of most people's daily life that you can hardly believe that the song is actually there to question its very validity, which it does with no qualms at all.
"Workin' nine to five, what a way to make a livin'... and later: "You would think that I would deserve a fat promotion... They just use your mind, and they never give you credit, It's enough to drive you crazy if you let it."
The real artist that she is peers through all the fluff from time to time, perhaps getting it through the fluff is the way it is proved.
For those of us who really watch musicals for the music this is one of
the quintessential musicals of it's time . There is in particular one
song that is constantly stuck in my head from this show even 25 years
after its original release. The classic " Nothing Dirty Going on"
stands up well with the likes of Moulon rouge , and Chicago. Expect a
bit of camp humor here as Dolly was made for this roll.
It's classic dolly showing up everyone else in this over the top cast and making em all look like a bunch of fools by doing her part so well. Deloise and Reynolds are clearly struggling to keep up with her acting wise throughout the film and it's blatantly obvious Dolly had way way too much fun in this roll.
A great musical on a true story that really could use a remake with the right cast .
This movie is brilliant. Great soundtrack, great acting and a great story. It's not for everyone but if you like a good light heated movie with a great soundtrack then this is for you. Dolly Parton is beautiful and brilliant as miss Mona and Burt Reynolds is perfect as the sheriff. the supporting cast is as good as you could hope the only downside i can add is nothing its brilliant. towards the end the Governor is brilliant and Dom Delouise play as usual a great part. in finishing its a great movie to watch with the girls with a bottle of wine. But also a good movie to watch with a loved one, i must say the soundtrack is so good i bought it which may not be so impressive but it's the only one i own. Watch the movie i'm sure you will enjoy it
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
There is a commitment to authenticity in film production of "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas." The people are fictional, in that no real-life sheriffs or governors or madams are depicted, but the movie is unafraid to use the names and likenesses of real, powerful Texas institutions to fill out the whorehouse clientele portion of its cast. Early on, Jim Nabors's goofball deputy explains one of the key plot points: the winning team of each year's famed football match between Texas A&M University and the University of Texas gets a free night at the Chicken Ranch, a house of ill repute west of Houston. To allege such a thing in a movie today would be impossible: the lawsuits would be swift and many. But here, it isn't just allegedit's depicted in vivid detail and with the flamboyant abandon of a great movie musical. The sequence begins on the gridiron, with the trademarked logos of A&M and UT on proud display, and transitions to the victorious Aggies' locker room where the men do a gleeful choreographed routine and strip down to their bare asses right underneath the "Gig 'Em Aggies" sign. Soon enough they're at the Chicken Ranch, where a Senator looks on approvingly as the team and the employees dance and carry on in various states of undress. It's a very funny string of scenes, and it wouldn't have the same sense of stakes or impropriety if instead of the Aggies the team was some made-up, generic stand-in; in Texas, there is no stand-in for A&M. One wonders how the large and powerful Aggie alumni community feels about this film. The movie walks a delicate line regarding the morality of its subject matter. It satirizes politicians (Charles Durning shows himself to be a physical comedy genius in his single, show-stealing number) and condemns "gotcha" journalism (Dom DeLuise's TV investigator dandy even uses that exclamation), and these are easy targets, but its discussion of the whorehouse itself is confined to a limited set of debate parameters. The perspective of the whores themselves is mostly missing, as is the criticism of prostitution as a kind of slavery. In its place is the less troubling contest between the support of safer, legalized, pimp-free prostitution and the old-fashioned condemnation of it on religious grounds. Most modern theater- and film-goers take the former view when those are the only two options, and the movie does so as well with a compelling and well-meaning righteousness. What it lacks in nuance on the subject of paid sex, it makes up for with really touching character moments between Burt Reynolds's duded-up sheriff and Dolly Parton's dolled- up proprietress. Their relationship is kept on impressively equal footing, and it feels as real and lived-in as the footage of the Texas capitol, the small-town courthouse square, and the Texas A&M stadium.
The problem, I suspect, with this movie is that the wrong people are watching it, and the right aren't.
Let's see, who does this movie offend? Christian fundamentalists, politicians and Texans. I don't know how many of the former are watching it and then rating it (perhaps they just rate first, watch later), but it looks like some Texans don't have a sense of humor.
And then there are Burt Reynolds fans who might be shocked to find this is not a typical Burt Reynolds movie, and hate it. But folks who aren't Burt Reynolds fans will probably enjoy it. Reynolds' excellent acting is natural, understated, and properly nuanced to the scenes. I think Reynolds and Parton are very well cast together and have real chemistry.
As to Dolly Parton, who knows? All I know is you don't have to be a Dolly Parton country music fan to love this movie. My estimation of Ms. Parton went up enormously after first seeing this movie. She is one smart lady and a fine actress.
So, to add it up, if you are not from Texas, not a Bible-thumper, not a politician, not a Burt Reynolds fan and not a Dolly Parton fan, you should definitely watch The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.
Oh, and folks expecting porn are going to be disappointed, though there is the briefest of cameos by none other than Kay Parker, dressed. Don't blink. Too bad she didn't get a speaking part. This lady can actually act! I saw her reciting Shakespeare, for some reason I can't recall, in one of her movies, and she was real good.
Watch this movie because it is laugh out loud funny. You need to watch closely at the details because the scenes are beautifully crafted. Watch the one of Dom DeLuise getting dressed in front of Reynolds before going on air. It is hilarious, especially the sock. But the most memorable scene is of "Governor" Charles Durning doing his "Sidestep" number. It is a masterpiece.
It is easy to forget this is a musical, perhaps because the storyline is so strong it could survive as a movie without music. But a musical it is, in the tradition of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and Oklahoma! with its masculine cowboy acrobatics dancing, though with an 80s twist, given the locker room dance number.
Thats what makes this movie great: It takes the concept of the musical comedy and brings it out of the Fifties and into the Eighties in a way that is still relevant and pretty outrageous today because of its swipe at hypocrisy. Did I say swipe? Perhaps dagger thrust or kick in the face to hypocrisy would be more accurate. In this regard, The Best Little Whorehouse is hardly subtle.
So perhaps I should add to the list of people who will not like this movie, hypocrites. For them, there is "Hello, Dolly!"
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