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 little 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 died, 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 lives. 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 use of the word "Whorehouse" in the title caused controversy. In Canada, TV ads for the film bleeped the word, and in some locales the name of the film was changed to Best Little Cathouse in Texas. Network and non-cable TV versions use a differently edited opening credits sequence to remove nudity and sex. See more »
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" song.
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.
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