Dolly Parton: The Acting Side of Things

Caproni

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Dolly Parton is one of the most famous and recognizable entertainment personalities in history. In a career spanning over half a century, she has proven herself a powerful singer-songwriter, but she's also crossed over into a successful career as a film and television actress.

That's what this thread is being aimed towards: Dolly Parton and her career as a film and television actress.

I enjoy her in NINE TO FIVE, her highly heralded film debut, co-starring with Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, and Dabney Coleman. She's also delicious in THE BEST LITTLE WHOREHOUSE IN TEXAS and STEEL MAGNOLIAS, the latter being one of my favorite tear-jerkers.

Any fans of Dolly's acting?

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Crimson

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I'm a fan of Dolly, without necessarily being a fan of any of her particular work. She seems like an all-around great lady and I think the world is better with her in it. (I don't think there's a single other celebrity I would say that about.)

Although I like some of her songs, I'm not really a fan of Country music. As for her acting, she never really found many vehicles to suit her talents. 9 TO 5 is great, and she's the best part of it. Some of her other films are decent-ish, but she was always better than the material. So, it's hard for me to say I'm a fan of her film work when there's really only one good film there.

Seems like she missed her acting calling; it might have been better is she had starred in an sitcom in the 80s rather than that ill-fated variety show. Her persona is ideally suited to the sitcom genre: broadly comedic yet warmly likeable.
 

Caproni

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I'm a fan of Dolly, without necessarily being a fan of any of her particular work. She seems like an all-around great lady and I think the world is better with her in it. (I don't think there's a single other celebrity I would say that about.)

Although I like some of her songs, I'm not really a fan of Country music. As for her acting, she never really found many vehicles to suit her talents. 9 TO 5 is great, and she's the best part of it. Some of her other films are decent-ish, but she was always better than the material. So, it's hard for me to say I'm a fan of her film work when there's really only one good film there.

Seems like she missed her acting calling; it might have been better is she had starred in an sitcom in the 80s rather than that ill-fated variety show. Her persona is ideally suited to the sitcom genre: broadly comedic yet warmly likeable.
I think she was serviceable in all of her movies, or at least those I've seen her in anyway. Her roles seem to be tailored for her, as if they were written with her in mind. I specifically think of THE BEST LITTLE WHOREHOUSE IN TEXAS where she plays a whorehouse mistress. It's hard for me to think of another woman who could've played a role like that with class and humility. You love her, even if her acts are immoral.

A similar situation seems to have taken place with her role in STEEL MAGNOLIAS, a beautiful movie where she plays a small-town hairdresser. She slides right into the role, and one can easily imagine a small-town hairdresser looking and acting like Dolly Parton.

I don't think I've ever thought about it before, but Dolly could've easily worked on sitcom. She's done several guest spots, as one would aspect, but she's never helmed her own series outside of the two self-titled variety shows she had. I often think about her appearance on DESIGNING WOMEN, where she played the wistful Guardian Movie Star while Jean Smart's giving birth. Dolly could've slid into her own show, and with the right crew and co-stars, she could've been a hit.
 

Biggie

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Another Dolly fan here, but I am yet to see any of her acting roles.

Madonna is one of my absolute favourite song birds. I admire her success and comprehend what she has done to achieve it.

But acting is not for her, at all, ever until the 20 minutes after the end of the universe. Desperately Seeking Susan is next level bad. Who's That Girls went to places where demons fear to venture.

Evita was just awful on so many levels and Evita Peron......! Swept Away was the proof that she had a episode of some description. I fear that Dolly is not going to excel on the silver screen.

Barbara Streisand is the only one that I can currently recall that has achieved plaudits on the screen, stage and working the mic. I believe that Barbara is a PEGOT holder.

Long live Dolly.
 

Caproni

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Another Dolly fan here, but I am yet to see any of her acting roles.

Madonna is one of my absolute favourite song birds. I admire her success and comprehend what she has done to achieve it.

But acting is not for her, at all, ever until the 20 minutes after the end of the universe. Desperately Seeking Susan is next level bad. Who's That Girls went to places where demons fear to venture.

Evita was just awful on so many levels and Evita Peron......! Swept Away was the proof that she had a episode of some description. I fear that Dolly is not going to excel on the silver screen.

Barbara Streisand is the only one that I can currently recall that has achieved plaudits on the screen, stage and working the mic. I believe that Barbara is a PEGOT holder.

Long live Dolly.
I've never been a major Madonna fan. In my mind, she's more of an interesting personality rather than a terribly good singer or actress. As a singer, I enjoy songs like "Material Girl", "Like a Prayer", and a few others, but overall, I don't find her to be a good singer. As an actress, she's probably one of the worst examples of a pop singer trying to find validation on the big screen. Her leading roles in the eighties, such as SHANGHAI EXPRESS and WHO'S THAT GIRL, are laughingly bad, but she kept on trying. THE NEXT BEST THING is one of the worst movies I've had the misfortune to see. Yes, it was that bad. Madonna was only good in A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN, and that was only because she wasn't the main character. She probably does better in smaller, supporting roles, but even those might be too much of a stretch for her.
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Barbra Streisand is a good example of a singer-actress, even though I'm not too fond of her singing necessarily. She has a pretty voice, sure, but it's the style of music she sings that I don't generally care for. Streisand is a beautiful woman, especially in her prime, and I think she deserved her Oscar for FUNNY GIRL, her highly heralded film debut. I remember watching HELLO DOLLY years ago and enjoying it. I also liked FOR PETE'S SAKE and THE MAIN EVENT, the latter being perhaps my favorite of her movies. A STAR IS BORN is probably one of her more popular movies, and it's enjoyable too. The one thing that always disappoints me about Streisand's movies is the language in them. They swear too much and I don't watch them a lot because of it.
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Dolly Parton falls somewhere Madonna and Barbara Streisand. She is certainly a more capable actress than Madonna, but she doesn't quite have the prestige of Barbara Streisand. For example, Dolly shows easy on-screen charisma in movies like NINE TO FIVE, but she never had a big production like YENTL to add to her resume. Whether or not you consider Dolly a good actress will depend on your perspective. She's beautiful and likable, but all of her roles seem tailor-made for her. There isn't a whole lot of acting required; she's always Dolly with a different name. Her screen presence is that major redeeming factor for her apparent lack of acting versatility.
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One of the best examples of an actress-singer is Cher. Not only was she a part of Sonny & Cher, one of the more popular duos of the late sixties, she also transitioned easily to television with THE SONNY & CHER SHOW in the seventies, where she showed considerable comedic talent. She got more serious about acting in the eighties and she turned in solid performances in COME BACK TO THE FIVE AND DIME, JIMMY DEAN, JIMMY and SILKWOOD, the latter receiving her critical acclaim. Cher felt robbed, and perhaps rightfully so, that she wasn't nominated for MASK, one of her finest performances, but she won the Oscar for MOONSTRUCK, one of my favorite romantic comedies. She also had good performances in SUSPECT and MERMAIDS, but her film career was short-lived. She turned back to music in the late eighties and she's made few movies since.
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Biggie

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I've never been a major Madonna fan. In my mind, she's more of an interesting personality rather than a terribly good singer or actress. As a singer, I enjoy songs like "Material Girl", "Like a Prayer", and a few others, but overall, I don't find her to be a good singer. As an actress, she's probably one of the worst examples of a pop singer trying to find validation on the big screen. Her leading roles in the eighties, such as SHANGHAI EXPRESS and WHO'S THAT GIRL, are laughingly bad, but she kept on trying. THE NEXT BEST THING is one of the worst movies I've had the misfortune to see. Yes, it was that bad. Madonna was only good in A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN, and that was only because she wasn't the main character. She probably does better in smaller, supporting roles, but even those might be too much of a stretch for her.

Barbra Streisand is a good example of a singer-actress, even though I'm not too fond of her singing necessarily. She has a pretty voice, sure, but it's the style of music she sings that I don't generally care for. Streisand is a beautiful woman, especially in her prime, and I think she deserved her Oscar for FUNNY GIRL, her highly heralded film debut. I remember watching HELLO DOLLY years ago and enjoying it. I also liked FOR PETE'S SAKE and THE MAIN EVENT, the latter being perhaps my favorite of her movies. A STAR IS BORN is probably one of her more popular movies, and it's enjoyable too. The one thing that always disappoints me about Streisand's movies is the language in them. They swear too much and I don't watch them a lot because of it.

Dolly Parton falls somewhere Madonna and Barbara Streisand. She is certainly a more capable actress than Madonna, but she doesn't quite have the prestige of Barbara Streisand. For example, Dolly shows easy on-screen charisma in movies like NINE TO FIVE, but she never had a big production like YENTL to add to her resume. Whether or not you consider Dolly a good actress will depend on your perspective. She's beautiful and likable, but all of her roles seem tailor-made for her. There isn't a whole lot of acting required; she's always Dolly with a different name. Her screen presence is that major redeeming factor for her apparent lack of acting versatility.

One of the best examples of an actress-singer is Cher. Not only was she a part of Sonny & Cher, one of the more popular duos of the late sixties, she also transitioned easily to television with THE SONNY & CHER SHOW in the seventies, where she showed considerable comedic talent. She got more serious about acting in the eighties and she turned in solid performances in COME BACK TO THE FIVE AND DIME, JIMMY DEAN, JIMMY and SILKWOOD, the latter receiving her critical acclaim. Cher felt robbed, and perhaps rightfully so, that she wasn't nominated for MASK, one of her finest performances, but she won the Oscar for MOONSTRUCK, one of my favorite romantic comedies. She also had good performances in SUSPECT and MERMAIDS, but her film career was short-lived. She turned back to music in the late eighties and she's made few movies since.
I have forgotten about Shanghai Express, although now I think back I remember that I was disappointed with it.

Cher is a artist that I don't have a lot of knowledge about other than the facts that are popular in the public consciousness. But I stumbled across Mask on the TV and have to confess that I absolutely enjoyed it.

Funny Girl is one of my favourite movies. I believe it's based on the life of Fanny Brice. I consider that Barbara Streisand earned and deserved her Oscar for her performance.
 

Caproni

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I have forgotten about Shanghai Express, although now I think back I remember that I was disappointed with it.

Cher is a artist that I don't have a lot of knowledge about other than the facts that are popular in the public consciousness. But I stumbled across Mask on the TV and have to confess that I absolutely enjoyed it.

Funny Girl is one of my favourite movies. I believe it's based on the life of Fanny Brice. I consider that Barbara Streisand earned and deserved her Oscar for her performance.
There is another thread about Cher here that I started called Cher, the Actress. If you enjoyed MASK, I'd suggest you check out MOONSTRUCK and SUSPECT at least. She's good in both, and leaves one wondering why she never made more movies in her heyday.
 

Caproni

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Dolly Parton was raised in the mountains of Tennessee in a relatively poor family in which she was the fourth of twelve children. Her family was Pentecostal, and they all attended the church where her paternal grandfather preached. Apparently this grandfather, who was very conservative, was stunned at Dolly's "celebrity appearance", a look she says she drew inspiration from a hooker.
 

DallasFanForever

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My favorite acting performance of Dolly will always be 9 to 5. She stole the show, which is something I wouldn’t have expected at the time considering it was her acting debut.

I also like the idea of her having her own sitcom in the 80s. She would’ve been perfect for that. She’s always seemed to have a great sense of humor and doesn’t really take herself too seriously so it definitely could’ve worked imo.
 

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I also enjoyed watching Dolly in 9 to 5.

I love Madonna in Evita. She was believable in that role to me and actually made me interested in learning more about Argentina.

But I think the best example of a singer-actress-entertainer that can do it all is Cher. She is amazing. :dance1:
 

Caproni

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My favorite acting performance of Dolly will always be 9 to 5. She stole the show, which is something I wouldn’t have expected at the time considering it was her acting debut.

I also like the idea of her having her own sitcom in the 80s. She would’ve been perfect for that. She’s always seemed to have a great sense of humor and doesn’t really take herself too seriously so it definitely could’ve worked imo.
It seems to be a fairly common opinion that Dolly was the highlight of NINE TO FIVE, even over industry pros like Jane Fonda and Dabney Coleman, who is always good as that nasty, egotistical villain. He played a similar type in TOOTSIE as a daytime soap opera director. I've never been a terribly big fan of Jane Fonda, however, even if I've occasionally liked a movie of hers. Lily Tomlin is another talent in this movie, and she does very good in it. She's always hilarious in BIG BUSINESS, where she stars opposite Bette Midler as twins swapped at birth.

Dolly would've excelled in situation comedy in the 1980s. I go back to her guest spot on DESIGNING WOMEN, and she seems so at ease in the format. Even though her guest gig there was a dream sequence, she looked lovely, and she seemed at home. She was a very big fan of the show itself, so maybe that helped her. She could've at least had her own series in the 1990s. I'm thinking she could've done well building off the premise of her movie STRAIGHT TALK. Maybe Dolly could've ran a radio station or something in a small-town and she was the celebrity that came back home. It's a basic plot, but I think she could've nailed it.
 

Caproni

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I also enjoyed watching Dolly in 9 to 5.

I love Madonna in Evita. She was believable in that role to me and actually made me interested in learning more about Argentina.

But I think the best example of a singer-actress-entertainer that can do it all is Cher. She is amazing. :dance1:
I've never seen EVITA, but the opinions are too mixed for me to want to really. Considering my opinions on Madonna as an actress aren't good, I think I'll save myself the heartache of watching what I fear would be horrible.

Cher is stellar. I wish she had made more movies, but at least her filmography, while relatively short, is full of good films and not bad ones.
 

Mel O'Drama

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I've never seen a Dolly Parton film, appearance or live show in which I haven't found her charismatic, engaging and likeable. In fact off the back of this thread I've mentally added some Dolly films to my viewing/rewatching bucket list.

While I said this a while ago in another thread, it bears repeating here (and I still stand by it): I could easily imagine Dolly playing Valene on early Dallas... if you can put Knots Landing and Joan Van Ark and all the later Val stuff out of your mind. Dolly could have been ideal casting for the hash slinging flawed mother with the heart of gold whom JR and Jock view as too downmarket to be a Ewing (but who JR no doubt secretly lusts after) in those early appearances. And physically I'd easily buy her as Charlene Tilton's mother (even though she's only twelve years older).

If not, then perhaps Garnett McGee. At least the great enthusiasm over her singing voice would have made more sense.


Evita was just awful on so many levels and Evita Peron......!
I love Madonna in Evita. She was believable in that role to me
I've never seen EVITA, but the opinions are too mixed for me to want to really.

It's a while since I've watched, but I think Evita is a well-made, gorgeous-looking film.

It's also probably Madonna's best celluloid performance because there's almost no spoken dialogue, so there's no sense of her trying to "act" (which, yes, can come across as slightly awkward. Or downright cringeworthy if we're talking about her trying to be adorably goofy in Who's That Girl?). It's essentially an extended music video, which is an area in which she's comfortable.

She's in good voice, thanks to the extensive vocal training she had for the role, and she's playing a character whose traits and story have many similarities with her own. All of which help, I think.

I suppose it might come down to whether you dislike Madonna more than you like Alan Parker.
 

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I've never seen EVITA, but the opinions are too mixed for me to want to really. Considering my opinions on Madonna as an actress aren't good, I think I'll save myself the heartache of watching what I fear would be horrible.

I would really recommend you to watch Evita then. IMHO it's Madonna's best movie. :danc:
It is worth watching it for all those lavish musical numbers. The Evita soundtrack is really great on it's own too.

In fact it was watching Evita (1996) at the cinema with my mom when it first came out that made me start to like Madonna again after that phase she'd gone through with all that provokative sex stuff (Erotica album + sex book) that I as a 12 year old girl found really embarrassing. :embarrassed:
 

darkshadows38

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i love her music some of it is great and some of it isn't, but i've always liked her as an actress as well i even Enjoyed Straight Talk as well (1992) but it's just a shame that her working with James woods made her quit acting for so many years.
 

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I'm a big Madonna fan, but her acting has been -- at best -- a mixed bag. I think she was quite good in both A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN and DICK TRACY and at least solid in EVITA. Otherwise, pretty awful.

For me, it's the opposite with Cher; I like her as an actress more than as a musical performer.
I can agree with your opinions.
 

darkshadows38

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i'm prolly the only one who's gonna say this but i like Madonna as an actress but shew as terrible in Swept Away (2002) that's easily her worst performance that's not a question. but Desperately Seeking Susan (1985) is among my favorite films and she's good in that she's also good i think in Who's that Girl (1987 ) A League of her own (1992) and i think she was good in Dick Tracy (1990) as well those are the films of hers i have seen i dunno about the others but those are the films i've seen many times and enjoyed her in them. as for her music i prefer her stuff from (1980-1990) though Evita is great & the song from the film With Honors (1994) is great too anything between that or after i just cannot get into
 

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I’ve never thought of Madonna as being a bad actress. Obviously it wasn’t her first calling and singing was, but I found most of her movie performances to be rather enjoyable. Again, not the greatest actress but I think she held her own and I found some of her roles highly entertaining.
 

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i agree but Swept Away (2002) they only judge her acting mostly by her performance in that and it's painfully bad but it's not just her acting it that's bad it's the entire movie. i never saw the Original but that one WOW was she bad in it, i could not tell you how many times i've heard people say she was bad in Dick Tracy (1990) but i think she was pretty good in it. it just depends on the role and writer/director much as any actor i think
 
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