Drama | 987 Mins | Released: 1975
Director: Joseph Sargent
Starring: Lee Remick, Jill Clayburgh, Monte Markham, Alex Rocco, Melanie Mayron, Beverly Hope Atkinson, Dick O'Neil
Our Rating: 6
Hustling, based on Gail Sheehy’s book, chronicles how a reporter for a New York City magazine decided to investigate the city’s prostitution industry to find out just who was making all the money. What she found out caused a firestorm of controversy–that many of the city’s richest and most powerful families and corporations benefited directly and indirectly from the illegal sex business.
Review of Hustling:
sol1218 – 15 December 2003
Lee Remick, Fran Morrison, plays a hard nose crusading reporter who drives a hard pen & pencil to get to the bottom of the prostitution racket in NYC by exposing those on the top who are untouchable by the police, press and politicians until she takes them on.
One night going out with the police to get a story about the seedy side of the city on a “hooker sweep” the police round up a number of prostitutes. At the police station Fran becomes interested in one of the hookers Wanda, Jill Clayburgh, and pays her bail to get her out of jail. Wanda grateful for what Fran did tells her that she’ll repay her for what she did as soon as she turned enough tricks to make up for the $500.00 bail that Fran paid for her. But Fran tells Wanda that she just wants her to tell her everything that she knows about the life that she leads so she can write a story in her magazine, City Magazine, about it.
At first Wanda hit’s it right off with Fran in telling her about her hard life and how she has to work to pay off her pimp for food clothing and protection and that she makes something like $20-25,000.00 a year, this is in 1975. But Fran is shocked that Wanda didn’t even have $500.00 to bail herself out of jail with all that money that she makes on the streets. When Wanda’s pimp, Sweets, finds out that she’s talking to a reporter and also starting to think about getting out of the prostitution business and feels that he might lose her from working for him he has a couple of street thugs beat and cut her up so bad that she would get back into line.
Fran feeling responsible for what happened to Wanda takes it upon herself to expose the prostitution business and those who profit the most from it. The makers and shakers from the city and state government as well as the big real estate interests who own the hotels where the hookers do their trade.
Back on the streets Wanda’s fellow prostitute as well as best friend Dee Dee, Melanie Mayron, who is 18 but looks like she’s in her 40’s, has been missing since her one-year-old son was taken away from her by the social services because they say that she can’t provide for him. Fran going to where Dee Dee and Wanda hung out when they wanted to get out of the cold and rain in a deserted construction site and finds Dee Dee dead, she killed herself by slashing her wrists.
With Dee Dee having no one and slated to be buried in Potter’s Field Fran comes to the rescue and pays for her to get a proper burial where Wanda and all those from the streets who knew her were in attendance. Also there was Wanda’s pimp, Sweets, waiting in the background for her to join him in his pimp-mobile. Wanda to her credit ignored him as he angrily sped away.
In the final scene in the movie, we see Wanda waiting for a bus to take her to the airport for a plane to Cleveland to move in with and take care of her old and sick father. Fran says good by and tells Wanda that she has something for her to read during that long plane trip. As a goodbye present Fran takes out the new copy of City Magazine. In it there’s the story that Fran wrote about Wanda and the women and girls who work the streets of NYC; also in the article is Fran’s exposer of those in high places who shamelessly profit off them. With Wanda on the Bus and then Fran on her way to flag down a cab to take her home she sees that at the local newspaper stand everybody snapping up and buying the magazine with the article about the prostitution racket, that she wrote about, on the front cover.
There’s nothing earthshaking about “Hustling” but it’s just a good and well-intended film. With a young Jill Clayburgh in one of her first movie roles before she hit it big in Hollywood and portrayed women who were, well spoken and educated and classy, but anything then what she played in “Hustling”.