Pretty Woman – Business Ethics and Happiness
Pretty Woman (1990)
- Making Julia Roberts a star. She plays a prostitute, Vivian, who
convinces the rich and ruthless businessman (played by co-star, Richard Gere) that people are
more important than profit.
- Being the most popular romantic comedy ever.
- Its soundtrack including Roy Orbison’s (pictured right in the 1960's) big 1964 hit,
Oh, Pretty Woman (played when Vivian is buying clothes in Beverly Hills, the super rich
district of Los Angeles)
Garry Marshall (pictured right, who also directed Roberts and Gere’s 1999 romantic comedy,
None (although Julia Roberts was nominated for best actress).
Vivian Ward (Julia Roberts, pictured right), prostitute.
Edward Lewis (Richard Gere), rich and ruthless businessman.
Philip Stuckey, (Jason Alexander) Lewis’s lawyer.
James Morse (Ralph Bellamy), owner of a shipyard.
Edward Lewis (pictured right) makes his millions buying and selling companies without
regard to the:
- welfare of their employees.
- the social and economic cost of his deals.
Like his lawyer, Philip Stuckey, he is only interested in money and
In Los Angeles Edward:
- borrows Stuckey’s sports car.
- picks up kind hearted Vivian Ward, pictured right below (who is living with her
fellow prostitute and best friend, Kit).
They spend the night at the luxurious Beverley Wilshire Hotel in super rich Beverly
He hires her to:
- be his escort for the next week.
- rings Kit to tell her the great news.
- learns dinner etiquette from the kind hotel manager, Barney.
- buys a dress (with Barney's help) after being snubbed by Beverly Hills boutiques.
Stunning in her fantastic dress, Vivian escorts Edward to a dinner with James Morse (pictured
right), and his grandson, David, who try unsuccessfully to stop Edward (with Stuckey's help):
- selling its assets (to make as much money as possible).
On their return to the hotel, Edward tells Vivian he
- hated his recently deceased father.
- didn’t speak to him for 14 and a half years.
They then make love on the hotel’s lounge piano late at night.
The next morning Edward takes her back to the stores that snubbed her, and, helped by his credit card, they
treat her like a movie star.
They go to a polo match (pictured right), where Vivian overhears Edward telling Stuckey that she’s a
- threatens to leave Edward (who persuades her to stay).
He then takes her to the opera, where he’s impressed by her emotional involvement in the
- has fallen in love with Edward.
- is insulted by extending her contract as a prostitute.
- wants a “fairy tale” of true romance.
Back at work, Edward agrees to help run James Morse’s shipyard rather than selling
Stuckey (pictured right):
- visits Vivian at the hotel.
- hits and tries to rape her.
- rescues Vivian and throws out Stuckey (criticizing his
- still refuses a romance with her.
This snub prompts a tearful Vivian to:
- give up prostitution.
- continue her education in San Francisco.
Having been told where she lives by Barney (the hotel manager, remember), Edward:
- arrives at her apartment with a bunch of roses (pictured right).
- seals their love with a kiss.
Lessons for happiness and business ethics
1. Forget your past
Edward had to spend thousands of dollars in therapy to admit that he hated his father.
2. Do something worthwhile
Even before Edward arrives for her, Vivian decides to:
He finally realizes that he wants to do something more useful than just making money (see point 3):
3. Money isn’t everything
Edward is miserable, when he’s making millions by selling companies’ assets at the expense of ordinary working
people who are trying to be socially and economically useful.
Vivian’s love reminds him that
- people must come first (see point 4).
4. People before profit
The film shows that profit and efficiency are important, but people’s needs must come first.
Edward’s relationship with Vivian changes from a business transaction to true love.
With her help, he also realizes that the shipyard owner, James Morse:
- deserves his help (unlike the greedy and despicable, Philip Stuckey).
5. Be true to yourself
Vivian and Edward discover that happiness comes from living by your principles like:
Vivian is ashamed when Edward treats her like a prostitute.
He is only content when he admits that he can’t buy her love but must earn it.
6. Know who your true friends are
Philip Stuckey, Edward’s lawyer, is a loyal employee but a lousy friend, who treats Vivian disgracefully.
Barney, the hotel manager, is a real friend for Vivian helping her with her dinner etiquette!
7. Follow your dream
Vivian wants the “fairy tale” of love ever after and gets it.
Key quote on business ethics
You and I are very similar, Vivian. We both screw people for money, Edward.
Two film websites to recommend
1. filmsite.org (run by Tim Dirks).
2. aveleyman.com (run by Tony Sullivan)