Like the Texas bordello of its title, THE BEST LITTLE WHOREHOUSE IN TEXAS is filled with some predictable fun and more than a few surprises.
This 1982 filmed adaption of the Broadway hit musical casts Burt Reynolds as Sheriff Ed Earl Dodd, the "Sheriff Taylor" like leader of the town and steady boyfriend of the house madam, Miss Mona, played with voluptuous sincerity and fun by Dolly Parton in her prime.
When a shady TV evangelist, hilariously played by Dom DeLuise, uses his network TV Show to throw a light on the "Chicken Ranch", all sorts of political trouble and soft R rated hi-jinks ensue.
Burt and Dolly have effortless chemistry and Dolly has enormous screen presence two years after her screen debut in "9 to 5", elevating the entire affair anytime she's on screen.
Burt (thankfully) only sings one song, but great character actor Charles Durning nearly steals the show with his terrific number "The Sidestep", showing terrific singing and dancing skills.
Some of the numbers are pretty cheesy and the Texas football team comes off more like The Village People in "Can't Stop the Music" but there's real fun to be had at the ranch.
Director Colin Higgins (Foul Play, Silver Streak, 9 to 5) has a deft comedic hand, the songs are fine and Dolly even sneaks in an early version of "I Will Honestly Love You" that was quite a hit in '82, but nowhere near the monster it would be for Whitney Houston years later.
When the film tries to turn serious, it nearly derails, but Reynolds and Parton know what they're doing and get things back on track in short order.
Get through the first 15 minutes of Jim Nabors narration and Burt and Dolly's only number together and then things improve quite a bit. I nearly gave up in that first stretch!
Good for a down home laugh or two and benefiting greatly from Dolly's ample talents, we'll give it a double D, oh I mean a B.