The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas
It would never have occurred to me to see, let alone buy a movie called The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas if I hadn't accidentally encountered it while channel surfing one day. I caught it at a particularly cute scene, in which Dolly Parton (who plays the Madame of the brothel in question, Miss Mona) and Burt Reynolds (Sheriff Ed Earl) sing 'Sneakin' Around', a cheerful little duet about their clandestine rendezvous. I didn't watch it properly after that but bought it, years later, when it was on sale at my local DVD place.
Based on a true-life story and adapted from a musical stage production by the same name, the movie follows the trials and tribulations of 'the Chicken Ranch', a century-old brothel in small-town Texas. The existence of this beloved institution is threatened when Melvin P. Thorpe, a self-styled moral crusader and television reporter, targets the illegal operations of the brothel for a tell-all expose. Matters come to a head when the Sheriff confronts Thorpe on-air and inadvertently compromises the reputation of his town and his paramour, Miss Mona. The plot is played out through these two central characters, although the movie features lively supporting roles, most notably by Charles Durning in his role as the 'sidestepping' Governor. The casting is superb and the actors live and breathe their roles, especially Dolly Parton, who shines as the Madame. As one reviewer said, "You can't help liking Miss Mona - she's not like any prostitute or madam the 1982 movie-going public had ever seen. She's a ray of sunshine, totally forthright, honest, optimistic, generous, open-hearted and sweet."
I watched this movie with my husband who, like me, was thoroughly charmed by it. We both were struck by how natural the relationship between Mona and the Sheriff is - like any happy couple, they are not just lovers but good friends. And, might I add, good people.
Apparently the movie didn't do very well at the box office, possibly because of its controversial title. Family viewing it is not, but neither is it vulgar or inappropriate. As Mona says in her song 'A Lil' Ole Bitty Pissant Country Place', "there's nothin' dirty goin' on!"