Hooker with a Heart of Gold Spandex

29 Jun

Love Ranch Movie Review & Streetwalker Chic

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The 1970s cemented the style in regard to what mental images spring to mind when it comes to floozy fashion. Screenwalkers in the 60s and prior were typically chic and sophisticated: they were stylized call-girl ideals portrayed by the likes of Elizabeth Taylor (BUtterfield 8, 1960) who wore a white silk slip and a floor-length mink, or Audrey Hepburn (Breakfast at Tiffany’s, 1961) who covertly sold herself while outfitted in gloves and tiara no less!

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In the swingin’ 70s, the clothing was definitely more cathouse than catwalk and the actresses themselves weren’t the type to be dripping in diamonds in their personal lives, either (think: Jane Fonda in Klute, or Jodi Foster in Taxi Driver). Go-go boots, fishnets, gold short-shorts, feather boas, halter tops and rabbit-fur jackets advertised the wearers.

In a ravishing reveal, director Taylor Hackford introduces the ladies of the latest skin-trade flick, Love Ranch, shoes-first — naturally, they’re shod in Lucite heels, thigh-high boots, and chunky cork-wedges. Costume designer Melissa Bruning obviously watched a lot of Superfly movies, because she has got the look down-pat for the sordid stable of hookers portrayed in this period film.

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The film itself can’t quite pin down its period, tonally — to me, the love-triangle aspect of Love Ranch is pure melodrama from an Old Hollywood potboiler starring Barbara Stanwyck. The sob story of the down on his luck golden gloves champ whose life hangs by a thread would have been a perfect Anthony Quinn vehicle. And the insecure husband who hides his true emotions under swaggering bravado could have been played by Richard Widmark.

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But it’s 2010, and these roles went to Oscar-winning duo Helen Mirren and Joe Pesci as a jaded husband-and-wife team of brothel owners, while Spanish sensation Sergio Peris-Mencheta makes his American debut as the burned-out boxer who comes between them. This highly operatic tale, set in 1976, is a splice of several true events which happened in Nevada’s shady and seedy side. The movie’s bursting at the seams with both passionate and dispassionate interpersonal relationships, corrupt business practices, flesh trades of two kinds (f**king and fighting), hookups, breakups, emergency rooms, going on the lam, sun, snow, and even a fiery explosion or two!

The hookers (main man-pleasers are played by Gina Gershon, Bai Ling, Taryn Manning and Scout Taylor Compton) are central to the story, but their trials and tribulations are incidental to the dynamic between Charlie (a two-bit hustler who hitched his wagon to the right star 20+ years ago, and married her), Grace (the book-cooking brains of the biz, who’s tired of it all but soldiers on), and Bruza (the sexy, swaggering prize-fighter who can’t outrun his past, but gallops unbridled to a future with the older and wiser madam).

But Wait…! There’s More

Love Ranch won’t be everyone’s cup of glee, but if you’ve enjoyed some of the more frenzied roles of the stars (think: Casino meets The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone) you cannot go wrong with this delightfully unrestrained and larger-than-life spectacle. Mirren and Pesci are both beyond riveting when they’re onscreen (she speaks volumes with her eyes, and with one stony glance Pesci can chill the heart), while charismatic Mencheta more than holds his own (even when he’s holding Mirren).

While less of the tawdry saga might have been more, Love Ranch‘s broken heart is in the right place.

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VIDEO

Here are some interviews with Helen Mirren, Taylor Hackford & Sergio Peris-Mencheta I did for my gig at AOL Careers (hey, prostitution IS the world’s oldest profession after all… no, the piece isn’t about that!).

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TRENDY TRAMPS & HIGH-FASHION FLOOZIES

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La Ronde (1950) – costumes by Georges Annenkov

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Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) – costumes by Hubert de Givenchy & Edith Head

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Taxi Driver (1976) – costumes by Ruth Morley

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Pretty Baby (1978) – costumes by Mina Mittelman

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Risky Business (1983) – costumes by Robert De Mora

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Whore (1991) – Costumes by Leonard Pollack

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Insatiable? Here are a few for the cue:

Movies

Belle de Jour
Broken Mirrors
Crimes of Passion
Irma la Douce
Klute
Memoirs of a French Whore
Mighty Aphrodite
Pretty Baby
Pretty Woman
Risky Business
Taxi Driver
The Greatest Little Whorehouse in Texas
The Happy Hooker
Whore

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Television

Action
Hung
Secret Diary of a Call Girl

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11 Responses to “Hooker with a Heart of Gold Spandex”

  1. Terrence Kelsey June 29, 2010 at 5:19 PM #

    Damn, I’m WAY OUT on the loop. I had NO IDEA that Taylor & Helen were married. But then again, I don’t really pay attention to such things. However, in this case (like Cruise & Kidman working in Kubrick’s EYES WIDE SHUT, or Sam Mendes directing his then wife Kate Winslet) this scenario catches my attention. I was already curious about the LOVE RANCH flick beforehand, but now I’m am more so.

    Btw, back in the late 80’s my buddies and I (upon us leaving from our weekend trip to Reno, Nevada) actually stopped by The Mustang Ranch and got a tour of the place (no, we didn’t partake in any shenanigans with the ladies – we were broke anyway! Ha!). But we told them we were a members of the San Francisco Bay Area thrash metal band TESTAMENT and they believed us, hence the tour of the facilities. Very interesting, to say the least!

  2. stacilaynewilson June 29, 2010 at 5:41 PM #

    I think that fun fact popped into my radar when I did the L.A. red carpet for THE QUEEN. I remember being disappointed I didn’t catch Hackford also, so I could tell him how much I love THE DEVIL’S ADVOCATE (the opportunity didn’t escape me this time, though!).

    [VISUAL AID]

    The movie really is entertaining suds, with a spot of substance. The Spanish actor was good, so I’m curious to see THE BORGIAS (love that story, anyway).

    Was the Mustang Ranch in operation when you were there, or was it off-hours?

    • Terrence Kelsey June 29, 2010 at 5:54 PM #

      Yeah, it was operational. The working gals were all lined up like 31 Flavors (white, black, asian, latina), as you see in LOVE RANCE (and judging from what I saw of the trailer). But it was during the early afternoon, so very slow. I think there was just one older dude sitting at the bar (we were 18 at the time), telling us he had just had a session with two ladies at once – of course he enjoyed himself.

      • Terrence Kelsey June 29, 2010 at 5:57 PM #

        Stupid typo finger! Ha! Terrence must learn to spell “RANCH!!!”

  3. Amanda By Night June 29, 2010 at 5:48 PM #

    Awesome! A good TV Movie that just came out is called Confessions of a Sex Addict. Surprisingly well done and actually kind of sexy!

    • stacilaynewilson June 29, 2010 at 5:50 PM #

      Well, I guess people wouldn’t become addicted if it weren’t somehow, um, seductive. Is there a hooker in that movie?

  4. Freaky Phil June 30, 2010 at 7:12 AM #

    FRANKENHOOKER!!!

  5. Ward P July 1, 2010 at 11:34 AM #

    Great review, Stace! Love the film floozy round-up at the end.;)

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Exclusive interview with the Costume Designer of Let Me In « I Dress, Therefore I Blog - July 17, 2010

    […] is my passion, so when I found out that cool clothier Melissa Bruning — who did a stellar job on Love Ranch, now in theaters — dressed the vamps in the upcoming remake of Let The Right One In, I just had […]

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