The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas

Dir: Colin Higgins, 1982

7/10

Based upon the hit stage musical, The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas is a chirpy tale of morality and over zealous evangelism.

In Gilbert, Texas resides Miss Mona (Dolly Parton) and her brothel.

Known colloquially as The Chicken Ranch, the brothel has been the focal point for nearly eighty years.

Loved and supported by the whole community, it has played host to guests from miles around.

The sheriff of Gilbert, Ed Earl (Burt Reynolds), keeps peace and is much respected along with his dimwitted deputy, Fred (Jim Nabors)

Earl has been in a relationship with Mona for many a year and turns a blind eye to the legality of such an establishment.

That is, until, television star and watchdog, Melvin P. Thorpe ( Dom DeLuise), presents a live broadcast announcing that a whorehouse is operating in Texas and that it is his duty to get it closed.

Ed, Mona and the governor rally to try and keep the place open while stemming the flow of public unrest.

A cheerful musical with several catchy numbers, The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas offers raunchy humour with likeable characters and happy optimism.

Dolly Parton is, undoubtedly, the star of the film, being someone who can actually sing and has acting talent.

At the height of her game, Parton parades around in next to nothing with ample cleavage and a busty bosom in show.

Burt Reynolds on the other hand is about as much of a singer as Helen Keller is a yodeller.

Known for his gruff, macho roles, Reynolds plays the part of the no nonsense sheriff fairly aptly.

If this was a straight acting role, there wouldn’t be a problem. But as it’s a singing one, he’s not quite right for the part.

This doesn’t impede the enjoyment of the film, it’s merely an observation.

Dom DeLuise does his usual campy character that’s seen in every film he’s ever done.

As the evangelical television personality, the campy persona fits the character well and makes him one of the more entertaining characters.

Strangely, for a character that is so prevalent to the plot, he has a reduced screen time. This is a pity as it would have been good to see more of him and his idiosyncrasies.

There is a tendency to stereotype the Texan people as slack jawed hillbillies, which is a very unfair depiction.

Deputy Fred is shown to be this slow on the uptake redneck, guffawing and saying “shucks”. You can just picture him slapping his hat across his thigh and uttering ” hot diggity!”

As catchy as the tunes are, they are also quite forgettable, with the exception of one or two.

Parton added some original songs to the film, most notably I Will Always Love You, later made famous by Whitney Houston for the soundtrack to The Bodyguard.

In some parts of America, the film’s title had to be censored for the advertisements. The word “whorehouse” was felt to be obscene, so, for the T.V. promos, the announcer would simply be bleeped or a sound effect put in place of the offending word.

For the promotion of the film, Parton was heard to call it The Best Little Chicken House In Texas. 

As far as I’m aware, the film is, now, shown on US television under its original title but with edits to nudity and coarse dialogue.

It’s not one of the best musicals, but it will provide you with a great deal of fun.

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