The original ‘Pretty Woman’ script was awesomely dark and depressing
Most people know “Pretty Woman” as a charming romantic comedy about how Richard Gere “saves” Julia Roberts from a life of prostitution at the same time that she “saves” him from being a rich, boring asshole. But did you know that once upon a time, before the script was sold to Disney’s Touchstone Pictures, the main character Vivian was a crack whore desperate for her next fix, her friend Kit was on the verge of death from emphysema, and Edward was an even bigger douchenozzle than he was in the movie that got made? It’s true!
The original screenplay has been available on the Internet for quite some time, and, as Flavorwire’s Jason Bailey points out in a post commemorating the film’s 25th anniversary, Disney’s Touchstone Pictures basically re-built it from the ground up after they bought it, leaving only the most bare bones plot points in tact. Its original title was “$3,000,” which goes much better with the capitalist fantasy it describes.
In contrast to the Disney version, Vivian and her spunky friend Kit are both addicted to crack cocaine, a realistic problem for the inner city underclass of 1990 Los Angeles:
Vivian convinces Kit to bleach her hair so that she’ll make more money. Mean? Perhaps. Practical? Definitely.
After Vivian goes back to Edward’s Beverly Hills hotel with him, they have some amusing exchanges. Much like in the version we’ve all seen, Edward is a condescending snob, but Viv holds her own:
The first time they “make love” is so much better than the movie’s cheesy piano scene:
The Edward in the original version has a girlfriend back in New York, to whom he will almost definitely return, even though she’s a “spoiled bitch”:
Edward pays her an extra $1,000 to not do crack when they’re together, because drugs are illegal and he could get in trouble or something. (Vivian says crack is “no different than champagne,” but he will not relent.)
After she gets rejected from one store, the hotel’s concierge compels Saks to let Vivian shop by telling them she’s Mr. Harris’ “niece from out of town”:
Edward is even more of a capitalist pig than he is in the version that got made:
He also invites his friend–the one Jason Alexander plays in the movie, the one who tries to rape Vivian–to “try her,” but he says he’s not interested:
Vivian gets mad about this, to the point where she almost takes her money and leaves. But it’s hard to walk away from a weeklong membership in the 1%.
In the end, as they are getting ready to part ways, Vivian decides that she loves Edward (and/or the lifestyle Edward has given her) but she can only say it while he’s sleeping. As he drives her back to Hollywood, she bursts into tears but is unable to tell him why, because “$3,000″ takes place in the real world where everyone knows their place and rich dudes don’t marry prostitutes. So she lets him think it’s because she has to give back her rented fur coat. Still, she doesn’t want to get out of the car, so he drags her out:
Ironically enough, the original version ends with an even more jaded Vivian and a somehow-still-alive Kit on a Greyhound bus to Disneyland, as potent a symbol of the American dream deferred as ever existed. There was no chance Disney was going to let it end that way, but you can now sleep at night knowing that a better, more realistic, and even somewhat anti-capitalist version of “Pretty Woman” once existed, if only in the mind of screenwriter JF Lawton.