A History Of Prostitutes (& How They're Treated) In Movies

Photo: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures.
The most famous movie about a prostitute is also the one with the happiest ending. In Garry Marshall's Pretty Woman, Julia Roberts' Los Angeles streetwalker is swept off her feet by Richard Gere's dashing businessman. And in this rose-colored view of sex work, his intentions aren't gross.

Cinema has a long, storied history with prostitutes — especially female ones. According to a recent study by Fusion, no Best Actor Oscar has been granted to a man for playing a male sex worker, while six women have won Best Actress trophies for playing female prostitutes.

Attitudes have changed through the years. In the late '60s and throughout the '70s prostitution was portrayed as a seedy operation that entrapped young women and men. Hooker comedies like Night Shift and Risky Business, which feature men becoming pimps for kicks, came a decade later. Prostitution got romantic in the '90s and early '00s with films like Pretty Woman and Moulin Rouge!.

Click through as we examine how 27 movies handled the risque topic.