It was 1990 when Pretty Woman made a star out of Julia Roberts. Although she portrays a Hollywood streetwalker, her million-dollar style had audiences buying into the idea of her glamorous romance with a minted businessman played by Richard Gere. It was a box office smash for director Garry Marshall who later failed to recapture the magic with the ill-conceived Runaway Bride.
Hooking The Audience
Unfortunately this 15th Anniversary Edition doesn't include much in the way of fresh material. As opposed to a retrospective look at the making of the film and its global success, we're palmed off with the original 'making of' featurette. It's barely four minutes long which is just enough time for Marshall, Gere and Roberts to outline the plot and tells us how gosh darn great this film is gonna be. Thankfully, Marshall has recorded a new audio commentary, which is loaded with behind-the-scenes info. He even acknowledges script doctors like Barbara Benedek who were denied credit on the final film.
As Marshall explains, Benedek did a vital job in making Richard Gere's hardnosed character more sympathetic. "You always want to create vulnerability in your hero," says the director, " hence Edward's fear of heights. On top of that, Marshall isn't shy about revealing the studio's initial apprehensions about the plot and their frankly stupid attempts to remould it. He specifically recalls getting script notes from executives, asking, "Does she have to be a prostitute?" Thank goodness Roberts "didn’t play it too slutty". Apparently though, she spent a lot of time in a walk-in clinic on Hollywood Boulevard, which is frequented by streetwalkers and homeless people to get a sense of the character.
A Pretty Picture
You can’t help but feel there's a lot of the real Julia Roberts in Vivian. In a vintage blooper reel she sits awkwardly for a posh dinner scene and eventually gives in to a fit of nervous giggling. The chemistry between Roberts and Gere is also a joy to behold as they crack each other up and then try desperately to get the scene back into focus. We're also given rare access to the wrap party where Gere, Roberts and Marshall perform a rendition of Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood - badly.
Marshall takes you on an interactive tour of the various LA locations in a fun but throwaway addition to the package. Stops include the super exclusive shopping mile of Rodeo Drive ("They make you shoot on Sundays because they don't want to lose a dollar!") and The Beverly Wilshire Hotel ("designed in the Italian Renaissance style with a neo-classical French influence").
With minimal input from the stars in grainy archive footage, this Special Edition DVD only just about makes the cut. In fact Marshall's new commentary is the only major selling point - if you don’t count the corner of Hollywood Boulevard.