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The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (film)

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The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas is a 1982 American musical comedy film co-written, produced and directed by Colin Higgins in his final film as director It is an adaptation of the 1978 Broadway musical of the same name, and stars Dolly Parton, Burt Reynolds, Jim Nabors, Charles Durning, Dom DeLuise, Noah Beery, Jr, Robert Mandan, Lois Nettleton, Theresa Merritt, Barry Corbin, Mary Jo Catlett and Mary Louise Wilson

Durning was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role as the Texas governor Golden Globe nominations went to the film for Best Motion Picture Comedy or Musical and Parton for Best Actress in a Motion Picture Comedy or Musical It was the fourth highest-grossing live-action musical film of the 1980s3


  • 1 Plot
  • 2 Cast
  • 3 Production
    • 31 Adaptation
    • 32 Music
  • 4 Release
    • 41 Marketing
    • 42 Box office
    • 43 Critical reception
  • 5 Cultural influence
  • 6 Legacy
  • 7 Remake
  • 8 References
  • 9 External links


Ed Earl, the sheriff of Gilbert, Texas, has a relationship of long standing with Miss Mona, who runs a brothel there called the "Chicken Ranch" Illegal or not, Earl does not interfere with her business, which has been a fixture in the town for as long as either can remember

Lovers on the side, occasionally interrupted by Deputy Fred, the sheriff and madam have a pleasant arrangement Not everyone in town approves of her, but Miss Mona is a public-minded citizen who regularly donates to charity, decent and law-abiding in every respect but her line of work

A big-city television personality, do-gooder Melvin P Thorpe, is about to do a segment about the town, so the sheriff travels there to introduce himself to Thorpe, who greets him warmly He is shocked by Thorpe's live telecast, in which he reveals to a huge audience his discovery that "Texas has a whorehouse in it"

The Chicken Ranch is an institution, where the winning team from the football game between Texas A & M and the University of Texas traditionally is brought to "celebrate" its victory The negative publicity puts a spotlight on the place, so Ed Earl gets Miss Mona's word that she will shut the doors until the attention goes away She shuts it down to regular customers, but elects to let the football players have their party, at which point Thorpe and his TV cameras ambush them all

Earl compounds the problem by assaulting and insulting against Thorpe in a public square, all also caught on TV A quarrel and bitter breakup between the sheriff and Miss Mona ensues, punctuated by him calling her "a whore"

The Governor of Texas, who cannot make a decision on a single issue until he first sees what voters say in the polls, listens to Earl's appeals to keep the Chicken Ranch open, but the polls say no The working girls leave the Chicken Ranch for good Miss Mona is disconsolate, at least until finding out the effort made by the sheriff on her behalf

As Miss Mona is departing the whorehouse for the last time, Earl stops her and proposes to her She turns him down, knowing that his dream is to run for state legislature, and that having a wife who worked in prostitution would hurt his chances He again insists that he wants to marry her and that he does not care about what people will think or say Deputy Fred, in a voiceover, states that Earl and Miss Mona marry, and that Earl successfully bid for legislature Deputy Fred states that he succeeded Earl as Sheriff


  • Burt Reynolds as Sheriff Ed Earl Dodd
  • Dolly Parton as Mona Stangley
  • Dom DeLuise as Melvin P Thorpe
  • Charles Durning as The Governor
  • Theresa Merritt as Jewel
  • Jim Nabors as Deputy Fred
  • Lois Nettleton as Dulcie Mae
  • Noah Beery, Jr as Edsel
  • Robert Mandan as Senator Charles Wingwood
  • Barry Corbin as CJ
  • Mary Jo Catlett as Rita Crowell
  • Mary Louise Wilson as Miss Modene
  • Howard K Smith as himself
  • Donald F Colson as Jeff Gerald
  • Helen Kleeb as Dora
  • Mickey Jones as Henry
  • Bobby Fite as Dulcie Mae's son
  • Paula Shaw as Wulla Jean
  • Kenneth White as Sheriff Jack Roy
  • Ted Gehring as Sheriff Chapman
  • Verne Lundquist as Football Announcer
  • Lee Grosscup as Football Color Man
  • Alice Drummond as Governor's secretary
  • Terri Treas as Chicken Ranch Girl: Taddy-Jo
  • Randy Bennett as Privates Boy
  • Andrea Pike as Chicken Ranch Girl: Shy Speaking scenes cut
  • Valerie Leigh Bixler as Chicken Ranch Girl: Angel Speaking scenes cut


The book of the play was restructured to make it a vehicle for Parton and Reynolds Higgins prepared for directing it by watching old George Cukor films and Dr Pepper commercials4


The plot is basically the same as that of the stage production, with one significant difference In the original, Ed Earl and Miss Mona had a one-night stand 15 years earlier, but in the film they maintain an ongoing affair

The relationship in the film brings about not only the accusatory scene, when the sheriff—disappointed that Mona has broken her promise to close the Chicken Ranch down long enough for things to cool off—calls her a whore, but also the happy ending, when he proposes marriage to Mona, even though that might endanger his chances to be elected as a state legislator; the epilogue comments state that he is elected anyway


See also: Best Little Whorehouse in Texas Soundtrack

Much of Carol Hall's original Broadway score was performed in the movie version Omitted were Good Old Girl, The Bus From Amarillo, "24 Hours of Lovin", "No Lies" and Doatsie Mae Two additional Parton compositions appear in the film: "Sneakin' Around", performed as a duet with Parton and Reynolds, and a two-stanza version of Parton's 1973 composition "I Will Always Love You" The film version of "I Will Always Love You"—the original recording having been a US country chart topper for Parton in the spring of 1974—was released as a single in July 1982, and again reached number one on the US country singles chart It also was a mid-level hit on Billboard pop and adult contemporary charts An altered version of Hall's "Hard Candy Christmas", in which Parton sings both the chorus and the verses of the song as opposed to the film version, which is partially sung by some of the other female cast members, was also released as a single, reaching the top-ten on the country singles chart in late 1982

Parton wrote several new songs which were filmed but ultimately not used, including "A Gamble Either Way" and "Where Stallions Run" The latter was restored for the ABC network television broadcast of the film, as the film was too short for its time slot after the censors finished their broadcast edits and additional material was needed "A Gamble Either Way" replaced "Girl You're a Woman" from the Broadway score and was sung by Parton after Miss Mona interviewed "Shy" Andrea Pike for a job at the Chicken Ranch The characters of Shy and Angel from the Broadway show were reduced in the film Their footage was eventually edited out "Down At The Chicken Ranch" was written for the trailer Parton recorded two of the deleted songs, "A Gamble Either Way", and "A Cowboy's Ways" a reworking of "Where Stallions Run", and included them on her 1983 album Burlap & Satin



The film presented some difficulties for Universal, particularly with advertising In 1982, the word "whorehouse" was considered obscene in parts of the United States, resulting in the film being renamed The Best Little Cathouse in Texas in some print ads, while television ads were either banned outright in some areas, or the offending word was censored; on WXYZ-TV in Detroit, the announcer on the station's "Now Showing" segment merely clicked his tongue to eliminate the offending word: "The Best Little click, click in Texas!" During interviews, Parton sometimes referred to the film as The Best Little Chicken House in Texas

Box officeedit

The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas opened in 1,400 theaters on July 23, 1982 and earned $11,874,268 in its opening weekend, ranking number one in the United States box office, dethroning ET The Extra Terrestrial's six-week run at the top of the box office5 The film closed on October 21, having grossed $69,701,637 domestically2

Critical receptionedit

The film received mixed reviews from critics On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds a 56% rating based on 9 reviews6 Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film two out of four stars, stating, "If they ever give Dolly her freedom and stop packaging her so antiseptically, she could be terrific But Dolly and Burt and Whorehouse never get beyond the concept stage in this movie"7

Cultural influenceedit

The film and the original Broadway musical it was based on were spoofed in the 1982 pornographic film Memphis Cathouse Blues,8 which starred Annette Haven in the Dolly Parton role of the madam and Mike Horner in the Burt Reynolds role as the sheriff Porn star Kay Parker, who played one of the prostitutes in the film, had an uncredited bit role in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas


The house used in the film is located at Universal Studios in Hollywood and can be viewed as part of the backlot tram tour It was also seen in the Ghost Whisperer television series episode "The Lost Boys" The inspiration for the set came from a real ranch house located outside Austin, Texas, which is featured in scenes from the movie9

The house was also featured in Rob Zombie's 2003 horror film House of 1000 Corpses


In February 2010, Universal will produce a remake with a modern take10


  1. ^ "THE BEST LITTLE WHOREHOUSE IN TEXAS AA" British Board of Film Classification October 6, 1982 Retrieved June 29, 2015 
  2. ^ a b "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas" Box Office Mojo Internet Movie Database October 22, 1982 Retrieved June 29, 2015 
  3. ^ "Musical, 1974–present" Box Office Mojo IMDb Retrieved 28 July 2012 
  4. ^ HIGGINS: WRITER-DIRECTOR ON HOT STREAK Goldstein, Patrick Los Angeles Times 1923-Current File Los Angeles, Calif 24 Jan 1981: b15
  5. ^ "Weekend Box Office Results for July 23-25, 1982" Box Office Mojo Internet Movie Database July 26, 1982 Retrieved June 29, 2015 
  6. ^ "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas" Rotten Tomatoes Flixster Retrieved June 29, 2015 
  7. ^ "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas Movie Review 1982" Roger Ebert Chicago Sun-Times January 1, 1982 Retrieved June 29, 2015 
  8. ^ "Memphis Cathouse Blues 1982 Connections" Internet Movie Database Retrieved 3 February 2014 
  9. ^ "The Chicken Ranch" TheStudioTourcom Retrieved 28 July 2012 
  10. ^ "Film Remake of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas in the Works" Broadwaycom 10 February 2010 Retrieved 22 May 2017  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list help
Further reading
  • Hall, Carol Vocal Selections from The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas Melville, NY: MCA Music, 1979
  • King, Larry L and Masterson, Peter The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas Music and lyrics by Carol Hall French's Musical Library New York, NY: S French, 1978 ISBN 0-573-68111-2
  • King, Larry L The Whorehouse Papers New York: Viking Press, 1982 ISBN 0-670-15919-0

External linksedit

  • The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas on Internet Movie Database
  • The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas at Box Office Mojo
  • The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas at Rotten Tomatoes

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