Picks and Pans Review: The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas

updated 08/23/1982 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/23/1982 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Well, gosh durn it if this movie ain't lower 'n an armadillo's snout an' twice as filthy. The film version of the Larry King-Peter Masterson Broadway musical, by King, Masterson and director Colin (Foul Play) Higgins, seems devoted mainly to squeezing as many gratuitous cuss words as possible into 118 minutes. (King himself called the adaptation a "mess" at one point.) It's a shame, because the childishness of the script overshadows a marvelous performance by Dolly Parton, as the madam of the house in question. She sings wonderfully, and the movie supplements Carol Hall's score with two of Parton's own songs, Sneakin' Around and I Will Always Love You. She looks lovely, which isn't easy when she's gussied up even more than usual to fit the role; the best thing Higgins does, in fact, is to use her in closeup a lot so that her face, not her body, is the focus. She acts with a winsome sense of humor. And she strikes up some convincing chemistry with Burt Reynolds, who through no fault of his own is upstaged as the sheriff of the town where Dolly does business. (He sings one duet with her, doing no noticeable damage.) There's a lot of running around by scantily clad, buxom young ladies, slightly less by scantily clad, muscular young men. Jim Nabors, Dom DeLuise (who's feeble as a TV consumer reporter cracking down on Dolly's house), Lois Nettleton and Charles Durning have supporting roles that are embarrassing in varying degrees. But what can you do about a movie with laugh lines such as "We can't just sit around here waiting to grow tits" or "He's gonna kick that boy's ass"? You can go see Annie or E.T. again, for one thing. (R)

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