Dolly Parton is the definition of a triple-threat. She’s a massively talented singer, songwriter and actress. Oh, and she’s also a philanthropist who provides one million free books to children each month. If given enough time, she could probably solve all of the world’s problems. In the meantime, we have her movies. In honor of Parton’s 72nd birthday, here are the 10 best Dolly Parton movies, ranked.
If you’ve ever wondered how Sylvester Stallone would fare as a country singer, well, you might be the only one. But 1984’s Rhinestone asks the question: what if Dolly Parton had to make Sly Stallone into a country singer in order to get out of a contract with a sleazy club manager? The film was panned upon its release, but it did spawn two top 10 country singles for Dolly: “Tennessee Homesick Blues” and “God Won’t Get You.” The plot is just ridiculous enough for a so-bad-it’s-good movie night.
The 1991 made-for-TV movie Wild Texas Wind stars Parton, Gary Busey and Ray Benson. Filmed in Austin, Texas, the film follows an aspiring singer (Parton) and her abusive alcoholic manager (Busey) and centers around a murder. The film features a cameo by Willie Nelson and original music penned by Parton and Benson.
The 1986 TV movie A Smoky Mountain Christmas stars Dolly as country music star Lorna Davis, who travels to the Smoky Mountains to escape the grind of Los Angeles. While there, she meets and becomes caretaker of a group of orphans. The Christmas classic is as heartwarming and sweet as Dolly herself.
We all know that Dolly gives the best advice, so it makes perfect sense that she’d play a down-and-out woman turned advice guru in the 1992 romantic comedy Straight Talk.
The 1996 made-for-TV movie Unlikely Angel finds Dolly playing another country star. This time it’s the slightly egotistical Ruby Diamond (yes, really), who meets an untimely death and is assigned a mission to reunite a family on earth before she can become an angel.
Parton’s TV movies about her childhood growing up in the Smoky Mountains are becoming a Christmas tradition. The 2016 NBC special Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love follows the Parton family as they sacrifice their Christmas gifts so their father can buy their mother a wedding ring. The movie stars Ricky Schroder and Jennifer Nettles as Parton’s parents and Dolly herself as the town’s “painted lady” prostitute.
The 2012 film Joyful Noise stars Parton and Queen Latifah as rival church choir members as they prepare for a national competition. The movie also stars Kris Kristofferson as Dolly’s husband.
Parton dazzles in the 1982 musical comedy The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, an adaption of the 1978 Broadway musical. She stars as Miss Mona, proprietor of a small town brothel known as the Chicken Ranch. Things are complicated by a meddling TV anchor on a mission to shut the brothel down and Mona’s on-again-off-again relationship with the local sheriff, played by Burt Reynolds. The movie soundtrack spawned the top 10 hit “Hard Candy Christmas” and made Parton’s “I Will Always Love You” a No. 1 hit for the second time.
The 1989 southern saga Steel Magnolias stars Parton as Truvy Jones, the hilarious local beautician, advice-giver and town gossip. The film centers on the friendship between a group of women who endure tragedy with a whole lot of wit along the way. A true classic, the film is one of the best Dolly Parton movies ever made.
The 1980 workplace comedy 9 to 5 stars Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin and Parton as overworked, underpaid and underappreciated office workers. Fed up with the antics of their “sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot” boss, the three women kidnap and blackmail him and take over the office, providing equal pay and flexible work hours for the employees. The movie officially launched Parton into super-stardom and spawned a hit Broadway musical and, of course, Parton’s classic song “9 to 5,” which was written for the film.