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Be Kind Rewind – The Stars at Night Are Big and Bright

By Michael Nazarewycz

They say everything is bigger in Texas, and movies are no exception. According to Wikipedia (I mean, it’s on the Internet, so it has to be true, right?), 241 movies are set in the Lone Star State. Okay, so it’s not exactly New York City (1,214), but it’s not exactly Delaware either (um, 4). Of course, the 1980s represent the 28th state well, including the double feature below.


The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (1982)The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas
Starring Burt Reynolds, Dolly Parton, Dom DeLuise, Charles Durning, and Jim Nabors
Directed by Colin Higgins

From the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s, Burt Reynolds could seem to do no wrong. The former Florida State University football star had headlined everything from the sports comedy The Longest Yard to the action comedy Smokey and the Bandit. So why not ... a musical comedy? In this adaptation of the Broadway musical, Reynolds plays the sheriff of Gilbert, Texas, who allows his love interest, Mona (Dolly Parton), to run her brothel, the Chicken Ranch. Conflict ensues when a TV personality (Dom DeLuise) shows up and exposes the brothel on television. Charles Durning, as the Texas governor, was nominated for an Oscar for his work here (losing to Louis Gossett Jr. for An Officer and a Gentleman), and Reynolds actually sings on the soundtrack, which also features a version of Parton’s “I Will Always Love You,” which she had originally recorded in 1973, and which was eventually immortalized by Whitney Houston in 1992’s The Bodyguard.

Paris, Texas (1984)Paris, Texas
Starring Harry Dean Stanton, Dean Stockwell, Hunter Carson, and Nastassja Kinski
Directed by Wim Wenders

In the film, co-written by playwright and actor Sam Shepard, Stanton plays Travis, an amnesiac who is found wandering into a Texas desert. After being retrieved by his brother (Stockwell), they travel by car to Los Angeles, where Travis is reunited with his son Hunter (Carson), whom he had left years before. Once reunited, Travis and Hunter return to Texas, where Travis searches for his wife. Okay, so this one is NOT a musical comedy. It is, however, three-time Cannes winner (FIPRESCI Prize, Prize of the Ecumenical Jury, and the coveted Palme d’Or). It’s also something of an art house film, and at nearly two-and-a-half hours at a slow pace, you probably don’t want to kick this off late on a Friday night.


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