The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas (1982)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBB

USA, 1982.  Universal Pictures, RKO Pictures, Miller-Milkis-Boyett Productions.  Screenplay by , , Colin Higgins, based on the play by Larry L. King, Peter Masterson.  Cinematography by . Produced by , , .  Music by , .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by , , , .  Academy Awards 1982.  Golden Globe Awards 1982.  

Yee-haw! When it comes to Southern Hospitality, nothing beats Miss Mona’s cathouse for all gentlemanly needs. Her girls are polite, clean, fun and, when given a bunch of fancy-dancing football players, able to pull off a good hoofing number. While beset by production problems that show on the finished project, including massive rewrites and a succession of replaced directors, this minor musical is a breeze to watch. Burt Reynolds and  are terrific together as the sheriff of a small Texas town and the local brothel’s madam who get into a fight with American morality when a sensationalistic television journalist () decides to do an expose on Parton’s house of ill repute. At first our stars decide to fight together, but pretty soon tension gets high and the two of them are at each other’s throats as well as their common enemy’s. The dialogue is terrific, though the overall effect should be weightier:  this is a story about the hypocrisy of American morality, where a tradition of sexual commerce is looked upon as a grave sin but secretly revered as an institution. In execution the film is too slimly plotted and should have been more detailed. However, there’s a bunch of adorable songs, some from the original stage play upon which the film is based and a couple of Parton’s own, including the song Whitney Houston would later make famous, “I Will Always Love You”. Reynolds surprisingly holds his own in the warbling department, keeping up some good tempo with Dolly in the “Sneakin’ Around” number.

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