Hey big spender!
The oldest profession in the world always had an enduring liaison with the glitzy world of show-business. And because we all like to think of ourselves as all-accepting, liberal and creative minds, we compiled a list of its best cinematic adaptations: Whether it is a rough portrayal of streetwalking or the simple appreciation of masseuse fashions, here’s the 15 times these filles de joie quite literally filled us with joy. You decide the order, we just couldn’t choose.
Histoire D’O – 1975
Although not necessarily about prostitutes, this adaptation of the eponymous 1954 erotic novel by Anne Desclos (published under the pseudonym Pauline Réage) dishes some of the best madams ever caught on tape. And with gowns by Cerruti and outstanding tan leather pieces, it can easily convince you to put away that 50 shades of Gray of yours for good.
Klute – 1971
A complex drama, it earned Jane Fonda an Academy Award and a worldwide recognition of her acting skills. And let’s not even talk about her costumes and her now legendary hairstyle, ‘the Shag‘
Amarcord – 1973
In this Fellini’s semi-autobiographical masterpiece we meet La Gradisca (roughly translated from the Italian for Help Yourself). Played flawlessly by Magali Noel, La Gradisca is a small-town wonder: Scarlet wardrobe aside, she is a melancholic character that longs for love and attention. And that is in no way partial to feathers.
Dark Habits – 1985
Again, even if not really about harlots per se, this Almodovar-lensed masterpiece revolves around a sorority of nuns whose main goal is to offer refuge to loose women. And who wouldn’t do the same when THAT dress smothered in red paillettes is taken into question?!
Giovannona LongThigh – 1973
OPULENCE! She owns everything! Uppermost elegance aside (no), this goliardic and sex-fuelled comedy starring Edwige Fenech started the all-Italian craze for crass sexy comedy. No characterisation at all and yet an important character indeed.
Lola – 1981
One of Rainer Werner Fassbinder last movies, Lola is a tale of deception and seduction in which sex is seen as a mean of manipulation and corruption (a theme dear to the late, great director), loosely based on a re-interpretation of Josef Von Sternberg’s The Blue Angel. Look out for the GLORIOUS chandelier in the bathrooms of the club in which Lola performs.
Love and Anarchy – 1973
Another Italian cult film (these Italians though…), Love and Anarchy is the short for ‘Film d’amore e d’anarchia, ovvero: stamattina alle 10, in via dei Fiori, nella nota casa di tolleranza…’: Feeding up from the social unrest that swept the country through the 70’s, this period drama by Lina Wertmüller loudly shouts out a vocal j’accuse against fascist values while solidly treasuring its 1920’s styles. A lurking political masterpiece.
Moulin Rouge – 2001
In Baz Luhrmann’s musical extravaganza set at the turn of the last century, it is one thing that strongly comes across: LURVE. Yes, this movie propelled Ewan McGregor straight into a pantheon of Hollywood hotties, and yes, it gave Nicole Kidman the ground on which to show off her signing talents (we all remember her Robbie Williams duet. It still haunts us at night); But at the end this movie is a LURVE story. Possibly the oldest in the world.
Naná – 1985
Based on the novel by Émile Zola this all-including, all-baring camp sensation featuring Lujon’s favourite Irma Serraño will most definitely leave you begging for more. And if La Tigrese herself won’t be enough, then the sets will. And if the sets won’t be enough then the costumes will do. And if everything fails, Naná’s long, gold nails WILL. This movie in on Youtube in its entirety, by the way.
Pandora’s Box – 1929
It’s Louise Brooks folks! And if Louise Brooks is involved you can rest assured that the whole film will revolve around her siren screen allure. In the movie she plays Lulu, who, although not a fully-fledged hooker, is the cabaret performer everyone wants. It’s the thin line the one that stands between performer and whore, in cinema.
Street of Shame – 1956
Kenji Mizoguchi’s last film, it tells the personal tales of several Japanese women of different backgrounds who work together in a brothel called Dreamland, in Tokyo. The western influences on the costumes and the omnipresent cigarette dangling from Mickey’s lips make this merry Japanese masterpiece one of the most matter-of-factly portrayal of prostitution. A gem.
Sweet Charity – 1969
In this Bob Fosse musical remake of Fellini’s Nights of Cabiria, Shirley Maclaine plays the happy-go-lucky Charity, a kind soul who is looking for real love, when it is blatant that real love is not altogether looking for her. Watch this for probably the most intensely coreographed musical scenes of all times.
Taxi Driver – 1976
No one does (or ever did, for that matter) underage prostitute like Jodie Foster in Taxi Driver: That’s a fact and everyone agrees. Her floppy hat and angelic curls have easily become historical looks and it is just so easy to spot them at every single fashion week that took place in the past 40 years. Move over, Nabokov.
The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas – 1982
Hey! Look! It’s Dolly Parton! And hey! Look! She looks like a post-modern Mae West in her bejewelled gowns! If this was not enough, this musical delight also dishes plenty of sequins, metallic platform sandals, off-the-shoulder one pieces and big, great, huge, mythical hair. Oh, and boobs.
Vamp – 1986
In this film Grace Jones is a millenary vampire who is also a blood lusty high-priestess of sex that is not shy to twirl on Keith Haring-designed thrones that conveniently works at a strip-club. And no, it’s not a biographical documentary, it’s a horror b-movie from the 80’s that has gathered a cult following through the years.
By Matteo Sarti