on May 11, 2004
...so you come crawling back to Broadway"....
Just one of a myriad of oh-so-quotable lines from the classic VALLEY OF THE DOLLS, based on Jacqueline Susann's steamy pulp-fiction bestseller of 1966. The acting is pure cheese, the script is a paler, watered-down imitation of Susann's text and the songs are God-awful. But there is something about this little gem that draws me in time after time. I could easily watch it once or twice a day and never get bored with it.
The story recounts three girls in New York: Anne Welles (Barbara Parkins - BEAR ISLAND), Neely O'Hara (Patty Duke - THE MIRACLE WORKER) and Jennifer North (Sharon Tate).
Anne has just arrived from small-town Lawrenceville, and landed a job as secretary in an entertainment law-firm. This leads Anne to the acquaintance of Neely, a young up-and-coming Broadway singer who's just been dumped from the new musical starring Helen Lawson (Susan Hayward - I WANT TO LIVE). The reason?...Neely would easily steal the show, and the only star of a Helen Lawson show is Helen Lawson...!
Anne also meets Jennifer, a sweet but by her own admission, talentless showgirl/model. Anne's boss Lyon Burke (Paul Burke) arranges for Neely to sing on a charity telethon, and she quickly lands her own revue at a prominent nightclub. Jennifer marries handsome crooner Tony Polar (Tony Scotti) against the wishes of his sister/manager Miriam (Lee Grant - VOYAGE OF THE DAMNED). Anne then gets discovered by a cosmetics firm and becomes the glamorous 'Gillian Girl'.
The story moves to Hollywood where both Neely and Tony are turned into movie stars. Success comes too fast and easily for Neely who disappears into a heady world of dolls and alcohol. Tony is tragically struck down with a mysterious disease which leaves him paralysed in a sanitarium. To make ends meet, Jennifer becomes an adult-film star.
After going through two failed marriages, Neely hits bottom and is admitted into a rehab center, at Lyon and Anne's behest. With the offer of a new Broadway musical, Neely emerges and quickly finds her feet again, only to break Anne's heart when she claims Lyon for herself. Jennifer quits the porn business and discovers she has breast cancer.
At a party for Helen Lawson's new musical, which bombed out-of-town, Neely and Helen duke it out in the ladies' room, resulting in the famous wig-ripping scene, which is probably the greatest piece in the whole film.
Another great moment is Susan Hayward singing "I'll Plant My Own Tree" standing in the middle of a huge mobile, constructed of broken traffic-lights! Margaret Whiting provided Hayward's singing, though the role of Helen Lawson was originally earmarked for Judy Garland (and the song reeks of Garland influence).
VALLEY OF THE DOLLS is a campy little gem, one that has a HUUUGE and dedicated following. Patty Duke has never eaten so much scenery in any of her subsequent films, Sharon Tate is luminous and Barbara Parkins (aka the Living Mannequin) is just what is called for the role of Anne.
VALLEY OF THE DOLLS. A true classic. Accept no substitutes.
**UPDATE** Criterion is releasing the film on Bluray this September as well as its unrelated-but-still-great sequel!
I bought this deluxe DVD set in 2006 and recently re-watched it again for the first time in ten years and it really does the film justice. The transfer is great and the extras plentiful and fun. My only complaint has to do with the sound mixing of the musical numbers. The orchestra is so far in the background you can hardly hear the big, brassy arrangements in all their '60s splendor. When I recorded this off the late show back in the '80s the music was so bold and captivating; it can't be appreciated on the DVD, you need to soundtrack album to experience it as it was intended.
2017 will mark the 50th Anniversary of VALLEY so I hope someone at Fox will make sure the film receives the celebratory Blu-Ray release it deserves complete with extras carried over from the 2006 DVD release and some new ones added. For example, it would be great to have contain Judy Garland's version of I'LL PLANT MY OWN TREE. And for God's sake, don't mess with the freakin' music!
P.S. RIP Patty Duke/Neely. The way you snarled, clawed and screeched your way through the movie has made it one of my all-time favorites since that first late show viewing in 1981.
on December 1, 1999
This was the first "adult" flick that I saw at the tender age of 15. I, like most adolescents, was "turned on" by the onscreen "sex", the "foul" language, and the rampant pill-popping. Of course, I had not experienced either so this was a teen's fantasy. The movie is so awful that it is quite good. The theme song, sung by Dionne Warwick is the perfect example of 60' musical kinkiness. It ranks up there with Bacharach's "What's New, Pussycat," as pure fluff. Speaking of melodies, Patty Duke, so brilliant in "The Miracle Worker" years earlier, should have the poster girl for actresses who should never sing. Susan Hayward, a beautiful and talented thespian, plays the diva to the hilt. Even though her screen time is limited, she makes the best of it. Poor Sharon Tate was basically playing herself as a actress whose sole talent rested in her incredible physical attributes. It is for the latter performer that this film has a special meaning for me. Her death occured a short two weeks after I viewed the film. All these make for one perfect popcorn-eating endeavor.
on June 2, 2002
If one analyzes the howlingly campy (meaning the director, the writers and the producers did not INTEND it to be funny...and that's why it is) "Valley of the Dolls" (VOD) scene by scene, one can't help but realize that this "classic" film is the basis for many of the camp/excruciatingly bad (so bad they are funny) plotlines of television movies and series to come.
One's attention is immediately drawn to the cat fitghting scene in its tv series pretender, "Dynasty" between the Crystal character (what's her name...?) and Joan Collins in front of the fountain. There is no question that the writers of that hilarious, over the top scene had watched the catfight between Neeley and Helen in VOD and used it as their model babe brawling brew-haha. In addition, Tony's incurable illness as part of the soap campfest in VOD was surely the basis for many of those insufferable disease of the week tv movies of the seventies and eighties. One can surely think of dozens of other examples.
One can, therefore, call VOD a trendsetter, a trailblazer and a groundbreaker. (Well, one can call VOD many things.) High art, it isn't. A real influence on later television soapfests, it clearly was and remains as the undisputed champion in the category of unintentional high camp. And although VOD itself is derivative (think "Peyton Place" and "Executive Suite"), there hasn't been a film that has embarrassed so many hollywood actors with its combination of over the top and/or wooden performances, steretype-laden writing, inept directing and tone-deaf scoring.
That , however, is just the point. If it didn't contain the aforementioned elements, it would just be another dull, lifeless soap opera instead of the must-see camp classic it so rightly deserves to have become.
on November 18, 2001
For those who love to hate Valley of the Dolls, keep in mind no one was trying to surpass Citizen Kane so it isn't going to be oozing with cerebral content. Chill out people. Remember, this was 1967--back then, the movie was shocking. By our standards today, hardly (do we even have the ability to be shocked anymore?). Yet this movie continues to have some sublime impact on me. Does it hit me everytime I reach for my bottle of Tylenol PM?. haha No--maybe it's the standard premise--3 woman, initially innocents, who happen upon success, failure & how each chooses a different way to handle their dilemmas (& they have their share!). Common demoninator--drugs. Therein lies the realistic portion of the flick--it was the early days of Valium, etc consumption & does paint a true picture in this arena. Valley of the Dolls is what it's supposed to be--simple entertainment. I never fail to reach for Kleenex at the end. Theme song is moving, the story--one could call it trash, one could call it soap opera but I call it so much fun! Patty Duke gives the standout performance, along with Susan Hayward. Sharon Tate is exquisite. A perfect physical specimen if not the greatest actress of our time; her performance in V of the D's should be appreciated. Probably the most disturbing part of Valley of the Dolls is the knowledge of the tragic end to Tate's brief life. Costuming--hey, this is really most delightful! Everything is back in style. Check out the wardrobe. These styles are on the racks again! My only complaint with the film is the poor selection of male actors. Their performances are bland, at best. If anything drags the movie down, it's them. Watch Valley of the Dolls for it is pleasing in many respects. Great way to spend an afternoon--camp out with some popcorn & Kleenex and enjoy this Camp classic!
on January 5, 1999
Forget the dreadful soundtrack and concentrate on the campy acting, hot chics (notably Sharon Tate) and hilarious dialogue that this delightful piece of trash provides. Barbara Parkins, Patty Duke and Sharon Tate play three gals in show biz. Patty Duke suddenly gets hooked on sleeping pills (nicknamed "dolls") and thats where all the hilarity begins: Patty goes totally nuts and says some of the most embarassing lines you'll ever hear. Meanwhile, Sharon Tate's (who somehow gets into showbiz herself) doll addicted boyfriend dies. Se goes down to France to try and get a job in porno movies, she dos (of cource) but then she finds out she's getting breast cancer so she goes back to the US to gets some surgery done to her. Then she finds out that the porn industry don't want her any more so she kills herself off with the dolls. For some reason Barbara Parkins dos not go crazy at all during the film, weird.
VALLEY OF THE DOLLS is nothing but a fun film, Keep it handy when you've got a bunch of friends over.
on November 13, 2001
If you like to listen to the music from this movie, this is all that's available. It's ok, but many of the songs are not sung by those who sung them in the movie. The worst is that "I'll Plant My Own Tree" is not sung by the woman who dubbed it for Susan Hayward in the movie. If you've grown accustomed to how these songs sound in the movie (as I have), you will be a little disappointed because many sound different on the CD (for example, the Patty Duke ones and that guy singing "Come Live With Me" are actually sung by the same people and are authentic-sounding). But why isn't the sanitarium duet included? Certainly, that's better than Jennifer's "art" movie music or the "Gillian Girl" montage, though it was great those were included. The woman who sings "I'll Plant My Own Tree" in the CD sings in this nice little cutesy voice. That is not Helen Lawson, how it was sung in the movie, how the Helen Lawson character would sing it, and wrecks the song, which is largely why I bought this CD. You need a hard, frightening edge on that song to capture what it is supposed to sound like. The various cuts of music-only interludes in the movie are a nice touch in the CD, but should not have supplanted some of the missing songs. Love it or hate it, the silly Barbara Parkins voiceover from the first scene is included in the title song, which can be either an annoyance or a nice edition depending on how you liked that character. In sum, if you like the songs, buy this CD, but be warned that some of the key songs don't sound the same now and some of the songs are missing. But it's all Doll fans have!
on October 22, 2003
If you're reading this review, then you're ovbviously a fan of the film "VALLEY OF THE DOLLS". If you're not in a coma, then I'm sure that you, like me, desperately want this great film to be released on DVD. So let's all band together and take some action!
Let's all write FOX STUDIOS and petition to have "VALLEY OF THE DOLLS" released as a DELUXE SPECIAL EDITION WIDESCREEN DVD with plenty of extras!
Please simply print-out the following open letter on your computer, and mail it to FOX and DEMAND that we get this on DVD as soon as possible!!!
Dear Fox Studios:
I hereby declare that "Valley of the Dolls" is THE best motion picture of all-time, and I insist and demand that you release it on DVD in a DELUXE SPECIAL EDITION as soon as possible!
"VALLEY OF THE DOLLS" deserves a DVD presentation that includes:
*Original W I D E S C R E E N presentation!
*Deleted scenes and out-takes!
*Restored theatrical release with the unedited love scene with Sharon Tate!
*Interviews with cast members!
*Judy Garland's unused scenes and out-take scenes!
*Judy Garland's soundtrack version of "I'll Plant My Own Tree!"
*Original theatrical trailers from "VOD" and other Jacqueline Susann films!!
*Interviews with Jacqueline Susann!
*Costume tests with Judy Garland and other cast members!
*Stereo 5.1 Surround-Sound!
*Digitally-enhanced and restored film print-transfer to DVD!
*Trivia information, such as how and why Marilyn Monroe's voice was used in the film! (They also used one of Marilyn Monroe's costumes from "There's No Business Like Show Business!)
*Any and all additional extras that you can possibly pack onto the DVD disc!
Let's get going on this, it's already been too long for this fabulous film to be released on DVD!
(Your Name Here)
I'm serious! The only way to get this FABULOUS movie on DVD at last is to let FOX know how much we want it! I hope you'll all take some action to make it happen.
In the meantime, remember to get up at 5 in the morning and "Sparkle, Neely, sparkle"!!!
on July 19, 1999
This weak adaptation of Jacqueline Susann's equally weak book is notable for two things: bad acting bar none and the famous "It's a wig !" scene between Patty Duke and Susan Hayward. It's hard to imagine that these women were both Academy-Award winners when they made this movie. If they gave out awards for the Worst Acting by an actress, both Duke and Hayward would qualify. And Barbara Parkins is'nt much better as Anne Wells, the only one of the trio we meet at the film's beginning to survive her "long climb" to reach the valley of the dolls. There are so many campy moments to this film: including all the scenes with Toni ("Come Live with Me") Scotti and Alex ("Ted Casablanca is NOT a Fag ! And I'm the Dame who can prove it") Davion. Only Lee Grant manages to keep any measure of dignity. Surprisingly, the best performace (and I use that word lightly) is from Sharon Tate as the doomed Jennifer. Knowing what her fate in real life would be (murdered at the hands of Charles Manson) adds some poignancy to her role.
on April 1, 1999
I would most definitely recommend this soundtrack for anyone is who is a big fan of the movie! The music is perfectly matched to each scene and when you listen to the soundtrack you can, as one of the previous reviewers said, picture each scene in your mind. I get a good chuckle listening to "Neely's Career Montage" and picturing Patty Duke's "workout" and rise to fame! And when I hear "Jennifer's French Movie", I see the beautiful Sharon Tate tossing around under the covers and speaking French! Barbara Parkins's distinguished and elegant narration make the first track a priceless, campy gem that sets the tone for the festivities. While it is disappointing that the title track ("Theme from 'Valley of the Dolls'" - apparently Dionne Warwick's record label had a dispute with the record label that released this soundtrack) and "I'll Plant My Own Tree" are not the versions heard in the film, they still sound similar enough that they manage to convey the same feelings of nostalgic joy! Interestingly enough, the songs Patty Duke's character sings are not really Patty's voice, but the singer they used was a great match for Patty's persona in the movie and both fabulous songs appear here! What more can I say?! If you aren't a big fan of the movie, then this soundtrack probably won't do a thing for you, but if you LOVE the movie like I do, then I a certain you will LOVE this delightfully cheesy soundtrack!