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Loveless Copulation, a Little Side Step and a real Hard Candy Christmas!

July 3, 2010

Dolly Parton and Co - The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas

The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas is a much better film than its legacy suggests. Built on the foundation of Ms. Parton’s sizable assets – acting chops, comedic timing and sublime musical talents – strong supporting performances from Charles Durning (who was nominated for a best supporting acting Oscar), Jim Nabors and Dom DeLuise and, of course, the incomparable patron to thespians himself – Mr. Burt Reynolds, who gleefully sends up his own persona and does some really horrible sing-talking!

The film depicts the last days of infamous Texas brothel, The Chicken Ranch (also the subject of ZZ Top’s bad ass guitar jam “La Grange”) and does so with cheek, wit and humor. The chemistry between Dolly and Burt alone make the film worth watching, but the musical numbers ought to be the reason you return for subsequent viewings. Considering the subject matter, the film isn’t especially tawdry, opting to utilize clever innuendo rather than graphic depiction of sexuality. There is astute class analysis – spelled out in Miss Mona’s “No No Rules” – which speak more to the behaviors her girls need to avoid in order not be framed as “whores” outside their working lives; it’s subtle but very clear Miss Mona understands exactly what’s what. She donates money to good causes, important to the community. She instructs her girls to maintain a sense of decorum while out in town. Actually, there are a quite a few life lessons to be learned from the film through its musical numbers…

Them’s the rules; there’s the door. Your choice!

    No chow chow! No gum chewing. No gossiping. No back sassing. If you’re calling out sick, your ass better be real sick. And honey, if you don’t like how I run things, tell me straight up and then go pack! Those are rules I can live with!

Make decisive statements without saying a single word

    Chow chow a go go! If you’ve got no answer, you’ve got to do a little side step! It’s helpful to dazzle folks with a little soft shoe.

If you’re gonna tattle, make it entertaining.

    Loveless copulation’s going on and it must stop! *gospel claps*

The truth will set you free.

    Yeah, they’re closing down your profitable business, but you’ll be just fine. La Mommie and I always preference any bad (but not tragic) news with a chorus of “Hard Candy Christmas”.
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18 Comments leave one →
  1. July 3, 2010 1:09 pm

    Oh that Charles Durning! He’s so cute, so light on his feet, so roly-poly. He looks like he stepped out of a Loony Tune at the end of the number.

  2. July 3, 2010 3:06 pm

    Charles Durning is a fat warrior. He is so freaking adorable and a great dancer. Pretending to be a silly dancer, when you’re actually quite gifted is a skill. He’s a treasure.

  3. July 3, 2010 3:14 pm

    OMG I just found out that Durning has actually been a dance instructor. No wonder he’s so good! Not only that, his daughter Jeannie is a choreographer.

  4. July 3, 2010 3:15 pm

    That is incredible! Makes a lot of sense, he’s got great body awareness.

  5. July 3, 2010 5:15 pm

    This really is a pretty fab film and might be Reynolds’ most charmingly roguish performance, ever. It makes a great double feature with 9 to 5, I might add. Which reminds me, I wanted to do a “great double feature” commentary sometime!

  6. July 3, 2010 10:23 pm

    I adore this film and I think it totally gets written off as camp or a b-movie or something. The story is great, the acting is great and the music is catchy as all hell. And when Dolly starts singing “I Will Always Love You” to Burt Reynolds at the end I get choked up every time.

  7. July 3, 2010 10:30 pm

    @penpusher, a “great double feature” post sounds fabulous!

  8. andersonljb permalink
    July 4, 2010 8:26 am

    This is one of my favorite movies! Snarky and her sister were very angry with me when it was on cable, because I would not let them watch it. Misreading the title, they thought that it was “The Best Little Wormhouse in Texas”, and could hear the ‘singing and dancing’ from their bedroom when I watched it, so, they reasoned ” it must be a kids’ movie”. I agree with nycpenpusher that Reynolds was charming, but I like him best in ‘Sharky’s Machine’ (where the heck is the remake) and ‘Boogie Nights’.
    La Mommie

  9. July 4, 2010 10:25 am

    I remember that my dad had an authentic Chicken Ranch trucker hat when I was little. I’m upset that I didn’t inherit it when he died.

    I saw this when I was younger, but recently caught it on CMT, and got my boyfriend to watch it. Now, we both have an unhealthy love of Dolly Parton in the first place, but Dolly as the mistress of a singin’-dancin’ brothel? Hells yeah!

    And I also get a bit teary at the end when Dolly busts out “I Will Always Love You” at Burt.

  10. July 4, 2010 11:32 am

    I agree with nycpenpusher that Reynolds was charming, but I like him best in ‘Sharky’s Machine’ (where the heck is the remake) and ‘Boogie Nights’.

    This comment was made possible by a grant from the Marky Mark appreciation club.

  11. July 4, 2010 7:21 pm

    I saw this when I was younger, but recently caught it on CMT, and got my boyfriend to watch it. Now, we both have an unhealthy love of Dolly Parton in the first place, but Dolly as the mistress of a singin’-dancin’ brothel? Hells yeah!

    I used to sneak and watch this. Shhh, don’t tell La Mommie!

  12. July 4, 2010 8:50 pm

    And let’s give props to Durning. He really is a remarkable. For personal reasons, he’ll always be Doc Hopper from The Muppet Movie for me, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen him in a role, no matter how cheesy the film was, where he wasn’t watchable, and that means brilliance lives in his soul.

  13. evmaroon permalink
    July 4, 2010 10:16 pm

    Every time I think of Dolly Parton I think of her roping up Dabney Coleman in 9 to 5. Best early 80s comedy….

  14. July 5, 2010 10:49 am

  15. July 5, 2010 12:46 pm

  16. July 6, 2010 8:26 am

    Charles Durning is my hero, he is a great example on how to be suave and charming and debonair and light on his feet, all while “portly’. Sometimes I think about him in “Home for the Holidays” and wish he was my father.

    Also, reading this description of Burt and Dolly made me really think about their dynamic, and her ability to pull out the best and most appealing parts of certain men. I mean, I don’t hate Burt Reynolds, but I do love him best when he’s next to her.

  17. July 6, 2010 8:29 am

    @nycpenpusher: I love that live version of Islands in the Stream so much!!! They don’t do live music performances like that before, it’s so easy and natural and organic. I love when Dolly says “excuse me, Kenny.”

  18. July 6, 2010 4:21 pm

    @nycpenpusher: I love that live version of Islands in the Stream so much!!! They don’t do live music performances like that before, it’s so easy and natural and organic. I love when Dolly says “excuse me, Kenny.”

    LOL. It’s totally wonderful. I miss the great duets of that era. Do we have anything like that now? Where is our “Up Where We Belong” or “I’ve Had the Time of My Life”?

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