When business becomes pleasure...
A 1990 film from Touchstone Pictures
named for the song by Roy Orbison
. Richard Gere
plays Edward Lewis, a rich man who hires Vivian Ward, a Hooker with a Heart of Gold
to hang out with him while he stays in LA. They end up falling for each other.
This movie was a genuine blockbuster when it came out, and it made then-23-year-old Julia Roberts
; she received an Academy Award
nomination for Best Actress as well.Pretty Woman
was initially intended to be a dark drama about prostitution in Los Angeles, but was reconceptualized into a romantic comedy. Today it is one of the most financially successful romantic comedies ever, making $178m in the States and another $285m worldwide for a total of $463m note
, on a $14m budget with a R-rating and its subject matter to boot. The film was followed by a string of similar romantic comedies, including Runaway Bride
, which teamed up Gere and Roberts under the direction of Garry Marshall once again.
This film contains examples of:
- Anywhere but Their Lips: Vivian's one rule is that she never kisses on the mouth because it makes it too personal. Somewhat Truth in Television : prostitutes often don't kiss on the mouth, but more because of the spread of infection (colds, flu, hepatitis, etc.) than the reason given in the film.
- At the Opera Tonight: Vivian has an emotional reaction to La Traviata (especially considering the subject).
- Berserk Button: Though reserved in anger, when Vivian mentions the sales people at a shop did not allow her to shop, he is angered and takes time to help her by ensuring the next place does treat her nicely. It should be said it isn't said if this is because it was Vivian who was insulted or one of his employees was slighted that set him off.
- Cool Car: The Lotus Esprit.
- Deadpan Snarker: Edward, much of whose dialogue involves his utterly straight-faced and deadpan replies to the things that other people say.
- Dispense With The Pleasantries: Subverted where it at first seems to be this, but turns out to really be about redirecting the flattery to someone else.
[After Edward informs salesclerk Hollister that he will be spending an obscene amount of money buying clothes for Vivian at Hollister's shop]
Hollister: Mr. Lewis? How's it going so far?
Edward: Pretty well, I think. I think we need some major sucking up.
Hollister: Very well, sir. You're not only handsome, but a powerful man. I could see the second you walked in here, you were someone to reckon with...
Hollister: Yes, sir?
Edward: Not me. [Vivian].
- During her first night with Edward, Vivian's impatient with his lack of urgency to get to the sex part, asking if they can just "hurry this along." This prompts Edward to ask for her rate for the whole night so she can finally relax.
- Does Not Like Shoes: Vivian, who is often barefoot.
- Downer Beginning: The two protagonists get one beginning each, both of them downers. Edward's beginning is merely about his life being shallow and empty, without any room for people really caring about each other. From there the scene flips to Vivian's life, taking the audience along for a plummet into hell. In the first few minutes we get:
- One of her fellow streetwalkers has just been murdered, her corpse getting digged up from a dumpster.
- She has to avoid her landlord and needs a new john really quick, because her roommate has taken all the rent money to buy drugs...
- ...from an especially skeevy guy who is entirely too keen on becoming Vivian's pimp.
- Fashion-Shop Fashion Show: After the first place Edward takes her, this happens.
- Farmer's Daughter: Vivian.
- Flowers of Romance: Edward arrives at Vivian's apartment building in a limo and then climbs the fire escape (despite his fear of heights) with a bouquet of roses clutched between his teeth, in order to persuade her to stay with him because she wants to, not because she's paid to do so.
- Grand Romantic Gesture: Edward's reenactment of Vivian's fairytale story.
- Happily Ever After: Oh yeah.
- Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Vivian.
- Inter-Class Romance: The plot, really.
- The Key Is Behind the Lock: A social example - Vivian needs stylish clothes in order to look respectable, but the sales staff at the high-end clothing boutiques that sell the kind of clothes she needs won't accept her as a customer because she's not dressed respectably. The hotel manager, and later Edward, have to get involved in order to circumvent this problem.
- Knight In Shining Armour: The knight rescuing the imaginary Princess Vivian.
- Lighter and Softer: The final film compared to the dramatic spec script.
- Lipstick and Load Montage
- Love Redeems: Edward's growing love of Vivian helps him turn from being a cold, ruthless business man, to a logical but caring man who seeks to protect the very business he was just looking to buy and destroy.
- The Makeover
- Makeover Montage: Vivian receives one going from an attractive streetwalker to a refined woman.
- Ms. Fanservice: Vivian; it's especially striking given Roberts purposely avoided the trope the rest of her career.
- My Horse Is a Motorbike: Vivian wanted someone to pick her on a white horse. Edward used a white limousine instead.
- No Fame, No Wealth, No Service: She gets that at a Rodeo Drive store, but she gets to tell them off later once she's looking more respectable:
Vivian: Do you remember me?
Salesperson: No, I'm sorry.
Vivian: I was in here yesterday. You wouldn't wait on me?
Vivian: You work on commission, right?
Salesperson: Ah, yes.
Vivian: Big mistake. Big. Huge! (She walks out of the shop.)
- Platonic Prostitution: Well, it starts that way; he just wants directions, but she insists on a charge and getting in the car as she's trying to work him.
- Princess Phase: When Vivian was a little girl she would pretend she was a princess... trapped in a tower by a wicked queen. And then suddenly this knight... on a white horse with these colors flying would come charging up and draw his sword. And she would wave. And he would climb up the tower and rescue her.
- Pretty in Mink: The spec script involved Edward renting Vivian a white fur coat to wear during their time together. When she had to give it back, Edward just thought she was upset due to not keeping the coat.
- Rags to Riches: As it seems Vivian and Edward are going to be very close, she will end up a very rich woman.
- Running Gag: Edward has a whole bunch of luxuries that he can't take advantage of because of various aspects of his personality (a Lotus Esprit when he can't drive stick, a penthouse suite and a balcony seat at the opera when he's afraid of heights). When asked why he owns it, he replies "It's the best."
- She Cleans Up Nicely: Vivian getting a makeover.
- Shopping Montage: Subverted at first because no one would accept Vivian in her streetwalker clothing. Once she gets some nicer clothes, she gets one.
- Slut Shaming: Less for Viv's profession and more for her fashion sense, but the film makes it clear that many of Edward's high-class friends see her as a person only because they don't know what she does for a living.
- Talent Double: Averted by miles - in the scene where Edward plays the piano it's not only Richard Gere playing, it's Richard Gere playing his own composition!
- Troubled Sympathetic Bigot: Edward keeps looking down on Vivian, in spite of not wanting to and in spite of his prejudice against her being proven wrong. Of course, he's rather oblivious to the whole thing, innocently arguing that she should accept being treated like a commodity because he's a nice buyer.
- Unproblematic Prostitution: While actually averting this trope completely, the movie managed to become the most famous example of the trope due to people's extremely low expectations for the treatment of sex worker characters. To the dismay and moral outrage of many viewers, the movie averted the once upon a time mandatory tradition that The Hooker with a Heart of Gold must be killed off before the story is over.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Vivian delivers one after Edward outs her as a hooker and his lawyer demeans her with a sleazy smile.