Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Valley of the Dolls: a review

A while back I posted this and now I have finally gotten my hot little hands on the dvds, so here for your reading pleasure

Valley of the Dolls: A movie review in full Technicolour.

Valley of the Dolls was originally released in 1967 and was a commericial success but a critical failure. It has now viewed as a camp classic and has spawned several television sequels/remakes, a stage production and of course inspired the classic film Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (review forthcoming). For anyone not familiar with this film, it is based on the best seller by Jacqueline Suzanne. Ask your Gramma, I'm sure she has a copy and she'll tell you that it's an engrossing read. At the time of release, the film was touted as 'A flashy expose of Hollywood's darkside', a story of backbiting and betrayal, a portrayal of the grim reality of women's experiences in Hollywood. Valley of the Dolls is all of these things, but it is more than that, so much more.

'Dolls; the instant turn on, for instant love, instant excitement, ULTIMATE HELL!!!'

Brief plot overview:

Valley of the Dolls tells the story of 3 young women who attempt to 'make it big' in New York with disastrous consequences. Anne Welles, a waspy girl from New England moves to the big bad city to embark on a career of some nature. She seems to have a horseshoe up her ass posterior region and lands a job with an entertainment lawyer which then leads to bigger and better things. She meets up with peppy young singer Neely O'Hara (Patty Duke) and vapid but beautiful chorus girl Jennifer North.(Sharon Tate) The world seems full of possibility for these three but as they head out to Hollywood it all goes to seed- or to the dolls, as it were....and don't get me started on their man troubles.


The three leads give good performances, however Patty Duke is so hilariously over the top that the film ultimately becomes about her. Other performances of note include Susan Hayward as the aging Broadway star on her way out, and Lee Grant as Jennifer North's sister in law, who has the best and most cryptic line in the film:

'Tony, How many time do I have to tell you, at night all cats are grey'

This is merely one example of the kind of strange and wonderful, highly quotable dialogue that the film is famous for...and speaking of famous actors, is that a young Richard Dreyfuss as the 'stage manager' or have I taken too many dolls?

Visually and stylistically this film is fantastic and it's obvious they spared few expenses. It has a groovy pop art style, gorgeous saturated colours, fantastic artistic direction and editing. As seen from some of the montages and the opening title sequence, there was obviously someone involved who had a sense of humour. Highlights: The musical numbers, Patty Duke getting her Judy Garland on during the exercise montage, Anne Wells' Gillian girl modeling montage, the girly fight scenes.

The dvd comes with tons of fun extras, including an extra disc featuring several very informative documentary featurettes, stills galleries, screen tests and the You've got talent Karaoke- 'follow the bouncing dolls on three songs'

All in all, The Valley of the Dolls, was a thoroughly enjoyable movie and a recommended addition to the DVD collection. (file it in your 'guilty pleasure' section next to Mommie Dearest and All about Eve) It would make a great party flick or PMS diversion. So gather together your best girlfriends and booze (pills optional) and get your camp on.


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