The Best Little Wh*rehouse In Texas
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Why, ask any kind Southern stranger and they'll tell you the same thing: Gilbert, Texas is just a little bitty innocent town of kindness.
Folks are friendly, music is merry, and the women aren't one bit sleazy. That's how small town life is, even at Miss Mona's Chicken Ranch. Honest to goodness child, I swear it! Ask Miss Mona, she'll tell you the same thing.
Who is this Miss Mona and what is The Chicken Ranch, you ask? Well, that's a long story which began 150 years ago and ends at the present. Let's start at the beginning, shall we?
This Colin Higgins directed film is narrated by Deputy Fred (Jim Nabors) who works in a police station in the small city of Gilbert in Landville County, Texas. The town, though small, has a legend which stretches back many years: The legend of The Chicken Ranch. Deputy Fred explains, while singing "20 Fans", that The Chicken Ranch was a bordello originally owned by a woman named Miss Willa Jean. During the Depression era, food became so scarce that the prostitutes asked for live chickens instead of money as payment for their "services", thus the bordello acquired the title of "The Chicken Ranch".
Following Miss Willa Jean's death, she passed the establishment over to one of her best "Working ladies", Miss Mona (Dolly parton). Miss Mona is everything you'd expect a bordello Madam to be, and more. She's beautiful, flamboyant, and a smooth talker. Dressed to the nines in a frilly, red gown and tall platinum blonde ringlets, she explains to her dancing floozies through her catchy song "A Lil' Ole Bitty Pissant Country Place" the do's and don'ts on how to be a mannerly young tart. No drinking or fighting allowed at Miss Mona's; she runs a classy establishment.
Sheriff Ed Earl (Burt Reynolds) is Miss Mona's secret lover and the two seem to be genuinely in love. They share sexy rendezvous singing "Sneakin' Around", and enjoy quiet nights together under the stars where Miss Mona confesses that Ed has been her only lover for many years. Mona feels protected by Ed, and so she trusts him to help her with the sticky situation she's found herself in with a man named Melvin P. Thorpe.
Melvin P. Thorpe (Dom Deluise) is a corset-wearing and highly annoying Houston television host who feels it's his duty to help the people of Texas by making the state as politically correct as possible. Chubby, wig-wearing Melvin proclaims on live t.v that he plans to gather a petition to close down The Chicken Ranch because, according to his song, "Texas Has A Whorehouse In It", and Melvin will not stand for harlotry in his state.
After a humorous fight scene with Melvin, Ed tells Mona to close down The Chicken Ranch temporarily, but promises her that it can open up again after things cool off in the press. Did Mona listen to him? Well, she tried... but she couldn't disappoint Texas's professional football team!
Melvin breaks into The Chicken Ranch and catches many a lewd act on camera, and now he has all the evidence he needs to shut down The Chicken Ranch for good. Charles Durning plays The Governor of Texas, and the viewer gets to see him dancing quite impressively while singing "The Side Step". Regardless of Ed's attempts, the governors decision is final; The Chicken Ranch must close down.
Miss Mona is heartbroken, but sends her bevy of beauties packing while they all sing "Hard Candy Christmas". Miss Mona, beautiful as ever, is now alone and distraught. After sereneding Ed with a beautiful rendition of "I Will Always Love You", she tells him she thinks it's best if they part ways. Does Ed listen? Of course not! He proposes to Miss Mona, finally saying the words "I Love You", and the two drive off in the sun, leaving behind a legend of music, laughter, and love.
"Ya'll come back now, ya hear!"
What an adorable movie! I love musicals, and this one is one of my favorites. I remember watching this movie as a little girl and not knowing what a "whorehouse" was (which was probably for the best). I remember thinking it must be a type of house, like tudor or victorian.
The songs are spectacular, and the film is never boring, it always keeps your attention. Dolly really does look like a living "Doll" and Burt is the perfect match for her.
I would love to see this on Broadway. The first Broadway musical I ever saw was "Little Shop of Horrors" (which was similar) when I was about 6 years old, and 'Best Little' looks like it would play out great on the stage also!
An absolute must see for musical or Dolly Parton fans!
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