Pretty Woman is a 1990 romantic comedy film in which a broke Hollywood prostitute, Vivian (Julia Roberts) falls in love with a wealthy executive, Edward (Richard Gere), who has hired her to be his escort. The film was originally conceived as a dark, cautionary tale about class and prostitution in Los Angeles, but was subsequently reimagined as a romantic comedy “fairy tale.” It quickly became one of the most popular films of all time. In this scene, viewers witness Vivian’s “Cinderella moment” as she is transformed from a low-class prostitute into a dazzling Beverly Hills socialite – thanks to Edward’s no holds barred approach to boutique shopping and his high-limit credit card.
Pretty Woman can be analyzed from a number of different perspectives, including its depiction of gender roles and heterosexuality. This scene is particularly notable for its depiction of social class, including ways in which class and gender identities intersect.
For instance, consider Edward’s treatment of the salespeople, as well as the juxtaposition of Vivian walking on the sidewalk at the opening of the scene (they’re all looking at me!”), in contrast to her solo stroll back to the hotel at the close. What is the relationship between money and power in the film, and what assumptions about the relationship between wealth and gender does the movie employ? How is the concept of class connected to notions of self-worth? What does this scene suggest about the ways in which we “perform” social and economic class in everyday life?