Since the issue of prostitution carries a lot of weight, it’s not surprise that films have dealt with it over the years.
Prostitution, which is outlawed in some countries but allowed and controlled in others, is a fascinating topic because of its intimate nature and how it can be used to learn about a person’s character.
One of the most intriguing aspects of the story is how someone decides to start a business of prostitution and the consequences it has on their daily lives.
Prostitution is often used as a plot device in comedies and adventure films as well as romantic comedies. Some of the best films on this top 10 list focus on the psychology of prostitution, including male and female self-discovery. A look at some of the best films in which prostitutes play an important role in the plot can be found in our list of the Top 10.
10. Night Shift
Night Shift, starring Henry “The Fonz” Winkler and Ron Howard, is a witty and heartwarming tale of friendship and family.
Comedic performances from Michael Keaton and Shelley Long are also prominent in the picture, as Howard and his co-workers approach working-girl life with an entrepreneurial yet lighthearted flare.
Winkler plays Chuck, a man who quits his job as a stockbroker to work as a morgue attendant to escape the pressures of his job. When Keaton’s Bill “Blaze” Blazehowski is forced to work the night shift, he encounters Belinda, a prostitute who is experiencing problems with her pimp. They decide to join forces in order to provide a safe place for Belinda and her fellow mortuary prostitutes to do their “business.”
Clint Eastwood is the man to call if you need aid in the Wild West. Retribution is sought after one prostitute was left traumatized for life by a horrific attack from a man who the prostitutes realize the authorities won’t intervene in. Time to go, Clint Eastwood.
8. McCabe and Mrs Miller
Self-proclaimed anti-western Robert Altman presents the narrative of John McCabe, who settles in the town of Presbyterian Church due to his confidence and cunning opportunism.
In the early 1900s, a man who is rumored to be a skilled marksman opens a brothel in order to further defraud the community of its resources. Prostitution-by-trade right-hand lady Constance Miller helps McCabe make the brothel even more profitable when a professional “madam” shows in promising to increase profits.
7. Taxi Driver
Not the deplorable living conditions of the prostitute played by Robert De Niro in Martin Scorsese’s film. It isn’t even her rogue, drug-dealing pimp that is to blame. The fact that she is so old really hits home. She’s a tween now.
It doesn’t matter how psychologically strong Jodie Foster looks to be as the young girl, her thin, infantile frame highlights her lost innocence and ultimate frailty.
6. American Gigolo
The “working person” enters from the right. Paul Schrader’s American Gigolo casts Richard Gere as a male escort, the polar opposite of the role for which he would later become famous in Pretty Woman.
He appreciates his work because it allows him to meet the needs of others and because of the status that comes along with the money he produces. A murder investigation brings him to his knees, and his life is turned upside down. Julian Kaye, played by Gere, is running out of options to clear his identity when he is unable to secure an alibi from a client he was with.
The world of Schrader’s prostitution is one of high-rollers and the good life, with all of the gory details kept strictly inside the confines of the bedroom. It’s easy to empathize with Kaye, the gigolo played by Richard Gere. Schrader’s last film about a prostitute has a more upbeat tone than this one (Taxi Driver). Julian Kaye, on the other hand, appears vacant, much like Travis Bickle in the Martin Scorsese picture.
5. Pretty Woman
While Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver depicts the life of a Los Angeles prostitute in dark tones, Pretty Woman’s romanticized portrayal is much lighter. Julia Roberts portrays the call girl who responds to Richard Gere’s request for hourly company. Love, in the sense that few individuals are able to turn down unlimited streams of money, lavish socializing, and beautiful clothing, is what ensues.
4. Midnight Cowboy
Joe Buck (Jon Voight) is a newbie gigolo who moves from rural Texas to New York City in search of a better life. However, being a male prostitute is a lot more difficult than he expects. When his intended audience of wealthy women doesn’t respond favorably, he’s forced to resort to more heinous methods.
Rightly or wrongly, Joe and Rizzo’s eccentric friendship is the film’s most enduring legacy (played by Dustin Hoffman who delivers one of his finest performances). As a result of Rizzo’s benevolence and their small crime business activities, Rizzo becomes Joe’s surrogate pimp, and the two form an unexpected bond.
3. Risky Business
The movie about a teen who runs a high-end brothel is the one that catapulted Tom Cruise to stardom. While his parents are away on vacation, Cruise plays Joel Goodson, a privileged, brilliant, and a little temperamental young man who must take care of his parents’ home.
The emphasis in Reagan-era America was on self-sufficiency in an economically prosperous, materialistic society that was ready to reward those who were determined to gain power and fortune. When Lana (Rebecca De Mornay) and her pals start serving clients in Joel’s family home, it’s only fitting that Joel turns it into a profit-making enterprise. But that’s what makes this 1980s classic so appealing.
2. Working Girls
Lizzie Borden’s 1987 Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize-nominated film follows a single day in the life of a group of Manhattan’s high-class prostitutes.
The film’s representation of strong female characters and its realistic depiction of a modern-day brothel have both been lauded. This group of “working girls” is, as the title says, there to perform a monotonous task, which Borden portrays as being no different from any other. As Working Girls depicts the “job” of “the oldest profession,” there is little opportunity for eroticism in the film’s straightforward realism.
1. Belle de Jour
The daylily’s French name, Belle de Jour, translates to “beauty of the day” in English. Séverine Serizy (Catherine Deneuve), a young woman who works as a prostitute while her husband is at work, is an excellent example of this.
Her unwillingness to be personal with him despite her love for him is the focus of Bunuel’s movie, which examines her fantasy of being dominated by other men. Despite her reluctance at initially, she finds herself drawn to work in Madame Anas’s brothel. Despite the fact that her spouse is unaware of her extramarital activities throughout the day, their physical intimacy grows stronger.
Can Severine, on the other hand, keep her secret life a secret from the man she loves? As far as I know, she doesn’t want to. Prostitution may once again require the woman to suppress the deep-seated cravings, fetishes, and fantasies she has harbored since childhood.