J.F. Lawton's formula screenplay owes plenty to Pygmalion, Cinderella and The Owl and the Pussycat in limning a fairy tale of a prostitute with a heart of gold who mellows a stuffy businessman.

J.F. Lawton’s formula screenplay owes plenty to Pygmalion, Cinderella and The Owl and the Pussycat in limning a fairy tale of a prostitute with a heart of gold who mellows a stuffy businessman.

Pic’s first two reels are weak, as corporate raider Richard Gere is unconvincingly thrown together with streetwalker Julia Roberts when he seeks directions to Beverly Hills. Seducing this reluctant john, she’s improbably hired by Gere to spend the week with him as escort since he’s split up with his girlfriend. Her price tag is $3,000; film’s cryptic shooting title was 3000.

Film blossoms along with Roberts, when she doffs her unflattering Carol Channing blond wig to get natural and embark on a massively entertaining (and class conscious) shopping adventure on Rodeo Drive. Roberts handles the transition from coarse and gawky to glamorous with aplomb.

Pic’s casting is astute, with Gere underplaying like a sturdy ballet star who hoists the ballerina Roberts on his shoulders. Sexiest routine has Gere playing solo-jazz piano late at night in the hotel ballroom and joined for a tryst by Roberts. Supporting cast is outstanding.

1990: Nomination: Best Actress (Julia Roberts)

Pretty Woman

Production

Touchstone. Director Garry Marshall; Producer Arnon Milchan, Steven Reuther; Screenplay J.F. Lawton; Camera Charles Minsky; Editor Priscilla Nedd; Music James Newton Howard; Art Director Albert Brenner

Crew

(Color) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1990. Running time: 117 MIN.

With

Richard Gere Julia Roberts Ralph Bellamy Jason Alexander Laura San Giacomo Hector Elizondo
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