(out of 5)
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 Dolly Parton 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 (Dom DeLuise) 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.
Universal Pictures, RKO Pictures, Miller-Milkis-Boyett Productions
Directed by Colin Higgins
Cinematography by William A. Fraker
Production Design by Robert F. Boyle
Costume Design by Theadora Van Runkle