It was 1982 and Burt's "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas" had just opened. He was very high on it and, after the interview in his trailer, he put on a cassette of "Whorehouse" outtakes - all musical stuff, including a different song written for the opening credits by Dolly Parton- "Chick-Chick-Chicken Ranch" - in lieu of the song that subsequently opened the movie, "20 Fans" (by Carol Hall who wrote all the songs for the original Broadway production) - and a soulful solo by Burt called "(Where) Stallions Run" which never made it into the truncated theatrical release. I've never quite grasped why studios "tweak" their musicals by editing out ... music.
You know, the reason musicals are made - the song and dance numbers.
Anyway, way back in 2002, when Universal released Colin Higgins' film on DVD, advertising "outtakes" among the bonus features, I fully expected those outtakes to be the amazing stuff that filled Burt's VHS tape. Wrong. The outtakes were the kind of blooper reels that Burt regularly screened for Johnny Carson's and Mike Douglas' TV audiences during the 1970s and '80s - you know, stuff of Charles Durning flubbing his lines, Dolly coming on like Mae West and Burt breaking up over some Dom DeLuise gaff. Strictly mundane. What the heck happened to all the missing musical goodies?
Surprisingly, not even "(Where) Stallions Run" made the disc - surprising because the song was reinstated for the film's TV broadcasts, presumably to fill it out after the more randy material was excised by the TV censors.
In his comments on the film on Amazon.com, Greg M. Pasqua reports that "over 30 minutes of film was cut from the Director's print" prior to its release in '82. (The release print of the film clocks in at 115 minutes.)
Among the missing numbers noted by Pasqua are two written for the film by Parton - "A Gamble Either Way" and "Stallions' Ways," both of which appear on Parton's "Burlap and Satin" album. Actually, the title of the song on Parton's album isn't "Stallions' Ways," but "A Cowboy's Ways,"
which, it turns out, is an alternative title for the aforementioned "(Where) Stallions Run," which was reworked for Reynolds by Parton. (Got that?)
Pasqua reports that an entire subplot from the play, involving the hiring of a shy girl (Andrea Pike) who grows into a woman during the course of the storyline, was elminated, along with one of the better-known songs from the stage production, "Girl, You're a Woman," inspired by that subplot.
Other songs from Carol Hall's stage score that were eliminated from the film include "Watch Dog," "Doatsy Mae," "No Lies," "Good Old Girl," "Twenty Four Hours of Lovin'" and "The Bus From Amarillo."
"Also," writes Pasqua, "smaller roles from the Broadway show were cut, including the abbreviated role of Angel (played by Valerie Leigh Bilxer), the (prostitute) who wants to see her little boy for Christmas, and other scenes involving Dolly and the (ranch) girls. Longer cuts of the big musical numbers also exist ('The Aggie Song,' '20 Fans' and 'Little Bitty Pissant Country Place'). All of these would make for a pretty good Special Edition."
Agreed. And, for the record, I like the film, always did - even at the time of its release when it was unfashionable for any critic to admit so.
And now that the 2002 DVD is out-of-print, it would be great if Universal finally releases the director's cut on Blu-ray - or at least include the deleted and unused musical numbers as outtakes.
My advice: Just call Burt. He has them. Or once did.
Note in Passing: Becoming a film was not easy for “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.” Universal was reportedly so enthusiastic about the property that it rather hastily agreed that the movie version would be co-directed by two men who oversaw the Broadway production, actor Peter Masterson and song-and dance wiz, Tommy Tune (who also choreographed the stage show). Burt Reynolds, the first star to be cast, was apparently fine with the idea, but matters seemed to change when Dolly Parton signed on as its leading lady and I guess Burt backed her up.
“Whorehouse” was Parton’s second film, following her debut in “Nine to Five” (1980), which was Colin Higgins's second film as a director (after having written the screenplay for Hal Ashby’s “Harold and Maude” of 1971 and directed Goldie Hawn and Chevy Chase in “Foul Play” in 1978.)
My hunch is that Parton felt connected to Higgins and preferred him to guide her in her second film, given that she did such memorable work for him in “Nine to Five.” So, Higgins came on board as director. He would direct only three films, "Best Little Whorehouse" being his third and last.
Colin Higgins died in 1988 of AIDS.