Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Barnet Kellman|
|Written by||Craig Bolotin|
|Edited by||Michael Tronick|
|Distributed by||Buena Vista Pictures|
|Box office||$21 million|
Straight Talk is an 1992 American romantic comedy film directed by Barnet Kellman and starring Dolly Parton and James Woods. Parton did not receive solo star-billing in any other theatrically released films until the 2012 film Joyful Noise, alongside Queen Latifah. Her previous starring films had been 9 to 5 (1980), The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (1982), Rhinestone (1984), and Steel Magnolias (1989).
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Shirlee Kenyon is a down-home country girl who, through a series of mistakes, is hired as a radio talk show host. Her show is wildly successful but her success is based on the lie that she is actually a clinical psychologist. She has to learn that giving advice and following it can be harder than she'd thought.
Shirlee starts off in the film as a dance instructor living in Arkansas. After she is fired for giving advice to her clients rather than teaching them dance, she attempts to convince her common-law husband (Michael Madsen) to move to Chicago with her. After he declines and then belittles her, she decides to move there without him.
Once she arrives, she is standing on a bridge enjoying the view of the city when she accidentally drops a twenty-dollar bill. As she climbs over the rail in an attempt to retrieve the money, Jack (James Woods), an investigative journalist, sees her from the office window of the newspaper for which he works, and assumes that she is trying to commit suicide. He runs out to rescue her, but as he attempts to grab her and "save" her, Shirlee loses her balance, and almost falls into the water below; she loses the money she had been trying to recover. After they recover, and she informs Jack that she'd, in fact, not been attempting suicide, but was merely trying to recover a twenty dollar bill, Jack tries to give her money, saying she must need it more than he if she is willing to risk her life to retrieve it. She refuses and the two part. A bit later the same morning, Shirlee stops into a cafe for breakfast, and strikes up a conversation with another customer, Janice (Teri Hatcher), who is annoyed at having been stood up by her boyfriend the previous evening. Shirlee tells Janice that he is taking her for granted, and advises her to end the relationship, only to realize that Janice's boyfriend is, in fact, Jack; Jack shows up, and Janice tells him she no longer wants to see him, adding that Shirlee has helped her to realize how much Jack takes her for granted. Jack thanks Shirlee for "wrecking his entire day", as he exits the cafe.
After a series of failed job interviews, a manager at a local radio station (Paula Newsome) reluctantly hires her as a switchboard operator, despite her lack of experience, and during her first day, she inadvertently walks into a studio, and is mistaken for the station's new call-in therapist, and is put her on the air, and begins hesitantly talking with the show's callers. Upon completion of the show, the program director arrives, and fires Shirlee, along with the producer and engineer, who'd made the mistake in putting her on the air. However, Shirlee's radio segment becomes in high demand with their radio audience therefore the radio station boss Mr. Perlman demands that Shirlee be the new radio personality, then Alan is forced to find Shirlee and convince her to do the show offering a $800 per week contract. Shirlee accepts the position, but there is one condition: she must agree to pretend to be a real clinical doctor. She doesn't want to misrepresent herself, but reluctantly accepts and becomes a popular radio figure as "Doctor Shirlee."
Jack, the newspaper reporter, suspects something when he realizes the woman who was ready to risk her life for twenty dollars is a doctor. Although his editor doesn't agree, Jack pursues the story. He begins to date Shirlee, at first in an attempt to get closer to her to uncover her story, but he soon begins to fall for her. Shirlee's boyfriend from Arkansas comes Chicago to try to get her back, though his attempts fall short, and Shirlee and Jack wind up making love. Afterwards, Jack develops true feelings for her and refuses to publish the story, eventually resigning from his job over the matter. However, while this is happening, Shirlee receives another visit from her ex, who tells her that he just remembered having previously met Jack in Arkansas, and that he was asking a number of questions about her. This leads Shirlee to realize that Jack is, in fact, a reporter, and his interest in her is merely a means to uncovering her story. She storms off, and refuses to take Jack's calls.
As Shirlee's popularity increases—her show has become so popular in Chicago that producers want to syndicate it nationally—a mishap involving some of her previous advice to one of her callers eventually causes her to confess the truth to everyone on air that she is not a real doctor, and then she leaves the show. All of her listeners call in and want her back, regardless of her credentials. Someone calls the show and tells everyone listening to honk their horns at midnight if they want Doctor Shirlee back. Jack tracks Shirlee down on the same bridge where they'd first met and convinces her to take him back. When she hears the horns, Jack tells her that they are for her. She eventually goes back to the radio show, but wants to be called just "Shirlee."
The vast majority of this film was shot in historic downtown Lemont, Illinois. The "Flank Center" building was used to house the dance sequence scenes in the beginning of the film. Both Dolly Parton and James Woods ate at local establishments during filming off times. Most filming occurred in the early hours of the morning with the usage of high intensity floodlights to depict daytime. This was done to reduce interference with the general public who crowded the streets throughout the weeks of filming. The bar in the raining scene, Tom's Place, and the Barber Shop are still open with some small movie memorabilia.
|Dolly Parton||Shirlee Kenyon|
|James Woods||Jack Russell|
|Griffin Dunne||Alan Riegert|
|Philip Bosco||Gene Perlman|
|Jerry Orbach||Milo Jacoby|
|John Sayles||Guy Girardi|
|Spalding Gray||Dr. David Erdman|
|Jay Thomas||Zim Zimmerman|
The film was released to VHS and laserdisc shortly after its theatrical release by Hollywood Pictures Home Video. A DVD release came from Hollywood Pictures Home Video in 2003. In 2011, Mill Creek Entertainment acquired the home video rights to the film, along with many others from Hollywood and Touchstone Pictures and released the film on DVD and Blu-ray. Mill Creek's DVD of the film is available by itself, as part of a double-feature set with Big Business, and a triple-feature set with Big Business and V.I. Warshawski.
- Thomas, Kevin (1992-04-03). "MOVIE REVIEWS : Parton Gets Hung Up in Phony 'Talk'". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-10-26.
- Canby, Vincent (1992-04-03). "Straight Talk (1992) Review/Film Dolly Parton Dominates A Comedy". New York Times. Retrieved 2011-10-03.
- Dutka, Elaine (1992-04-07). "Weekend Box Office : 'White Men' Outjumps 'Basic Instinct'". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2011-06-06.
- Straight Talk (1992) - Weekend Box Office Results - Box Office Mojo