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I've been wanting to see this since I read Susann's book about two years ago, and was very disappointed with it. The music is absolutely terrible, the performances are campy and the plot, though true to the book, is not well conveyed to the screen. Good things about it - it's an amusing look at 60's filmmaking style & fashions and Patty Duke steals most scenes. Billed a "cult classic" on AMC, I would beg to differ.
Anne Welles (Barbara Parkins) is a lawyer from the country, who decides to
move to New York. There, she gets a job in a successful lawyer's office,
where many artists of show-business are represented. She becomes friend of
Jennifer North (the gorgeous Sharon Tate), who is the wife of the artist
Tony Polar (Tony Scotti), and Neely O'Hara (Patty Duke), who is beginning in
her career in show-business. Anne starts dating and falls in love with Lyon
Burke (Paul Burke), who is one of the owners of the company where she works.
Then, Anne is invited to be the symbol of some cosmetics in TV commercials
and she becomes famous. The three young women will have their lives affected
by the use of drugs, in different levels. Yesterday I watched this movie for
the first time in cable television. In 1967, I was too young to go to the
movie theater, and this film has not been released on VHS or DVD in Brazil.
I found it surprisingly updated, having a good story. The `dolls' was a
slang for drugs (more specifically pills). The plot has drama and romance,
and a wonderful theme song, sang by Dionne Warwick and directed by John
Williams. Although not been an outstanding or unforgettable film, in my
opinion, the `IMDB User Rating' of 5.4 is very unfair. My vote is seven.
Title (Brazil): `Vale das Bonecas' (`Valley of the Dolls')
I adore this movie and hope that it will be made available on DVD, though
wouldn't expect any commentary from the actors...
I once saw Patty Duke interviewed and she stated the she "needs an airplane sick bag" in order to watch the movie. It may be painful for her to watch/remember, but it's pure entertainment to me! I was around 10 years old when I saw it for the first time, and from that moment forward I have have always eaten my M&Ms like I am eating a handful of "dolls". :-)
And the film includes so many idiotic moments...like when Neely finishes her number in the big TV telethon and then just dances for the camera when she is asked to stay longer.
To this day, I can't ride a train without gazing out the window like Barbara Parkins on her way to Lawrencville. And that's quite a move move, as I am a 275 pound, hairy-azzed male!
A camp classic...
"Unmitigated Hell", Shouted the original trailer for VALLEY OF THE DOLLS.
Few films, good or bad, are as consistently, dependably entertaining. As
many others have pointed out, this film overflows with ineptitude, and it is
that combined with an odd pulp-novel earnestness that makes a winning
This "Valley" is chock full of performances so miscalculated that they seem inspired. Sharon Tate ("Gee, Honey...that old witch ought to be boiled in oil"), Susan Hayward ("There's only one star in a Helen Lawson show, and that's ME baby! Remember?") and of course Patty Duke ("Mel? God? Neely O'Haraaaaaaaaaaa!").
On first viewing, the plot line involving Barbara Parkins can seem tedious and, indeed, it becomes fast-forward material for subsequent viewings. But that plot line is interspersed with some of the most ludicrous material ever committed to celluloid. Tony Scotti, as a lounge singer with what sounds like a speech impediment, ends up at the same sanatorium with his old friend Neely O'Hara, a five-foot Godzilla of seething Hollywood disillusionment, devouring every piece of scenery in sight and spitting out acid-soaked dialogue. Susan Hayward as the fire-breathing Helen Lawson, destroying a career with the flick of a cigarette ash. The men in this film seem hand picked for their dullness: Paul Burke and Charles Drake along with Tony Scotti and Martin Milner all play mere cardboard foils for the volcanic, tragically self-destructive females.
And the music: somehow Andre and Dory Previn managed to create songs that perfectly express the misguided, fortune cookie sentiments of these characters and plots. With tunes as garish as their lyrics are vapid, these songs occasionally fuse with the dramatic moment, joining with set and costume design to produce unforgettable epiphanies of trash. Cases in point: Neely's early TV appearance with "It's Impossible" (the one with the necklace) and Helen Lawson, performing "I'll Plant My Own Tree" amid a styrene plastic pseudo-Calder mobile.
The movie bears true hallmarks of the cult film: endlessly repeatable dialogue and scenes that can be watched uncountable times. See it to believe it, VALLEY OF THE DOLLS.
Jacqueline Susann's bestseller becomes suitably trashy (but not garish) movie of three young women in show business, first in New York City and then Hollywood. The film has a beautifully plush production, an exciting and glamorous cast, but a screenplay with a movie-magazine mentality, including lines of dialogue that astound one with their clichés (this movie features clichés you may have thankfully forgotten). Mark Robson's direction is flamboyantly over-the-top (he encourages Patty Duke to go for broke in a hilarious theater alleyway scene: "The WHOLE WORLD loves me!!"). "Dolls" skitters all over, with undetermined gaps of time (years, possibly) passing by in a flash. Still, it has that gloriously goofy script to fall back on and you simply can't your eyes off it: the breathtaking brunette beauty of Barbara Parkins, the leggy and lean Sharon Tate, the raucous Patty Duke ("Hey, do ya still have that mole on ya keystah?!"), and the steely-eyed bitchery of Susan Hayward ("You heard me! The song goes and the kid with it!"). "Valley Of The Dolls" is to be relished. It represents the excesses of the 1960s like an encapsulated and grandiose piece of celluloid heaven. ***1/2 from ****
Rather than it actually being representational of what 1967 was, to me anyway. I think 67 was a big year for The Beatles & The Rolling Stones-the space race was very in the news as was The Vietnam war. None of those things makes the slightest appearance in this film and thats why I think it is representational of someones wishes about what was 1967-or 1966 for that matter since Valley of the Dolls was first published in 1966.It was an important book because it was-I am told-the first time a woman had even published a large novel (442 pages long) in the USA. Sounds kinda odd since women had been writing books for quite some time-the Bronte sisters wrote Wuthering Heights & Mary Shelly wrote Frankenstein when she was 19, well before 1966. Go figure. The only thing that seems to be representational of 1967 in this film is the repeated references to popping pills. The soundtrack was done by Dionne Warwick and is not bad in stark contrast to the genuinely skin crawling numbers done by the cast members but not by actress Sharon Tate who is good in this film, as a daughter who sends money home to her mother but who ultimately kills herself when she is diagnosed with cancer. Sharon Tate was the best part of this otherwise silly movie.
Have been reading through the reviews here and am amazed that no one
has pointed out the thing that is most weird about this film. Which is:
that this film is set in 1967 and yet there is absolutely NO pop music
in it. Not even in the background on the radio! And remember this is
the year of the Monterey Festival, the Summer of Love, Swinging London,
Pepper, Forever Changes, Hendrix (the list could go on and on).
Some of the other reviewers say this film is 'pure sixties' but no, no, NO! There's a tiny nod at fashion with Parkins' up-market outfits but that's about it. There's no fab gear, no op art, no e-type jags, no mini cars or mini skirts, this is just NOT 1967!
This film hasn't even tried to be 'with-it', hasn't even put any 'token' pop or rock music in. You know the kind: 'groovy' party music with Hammond organs and bongos and electric guitars and go-go girls!
There IS 'music' in this film, however, a LOT of it. You can't stop it. It keeps popping up to torture you like the monster in a horror movie. Now, I dislike show music, even when it's competent, but this is BAD show music! Others have gone into detail about it so I won't repeat their comments.
You can't believe that in this same year you had The Graduate with wonderful songs by Simon and Garfunkel! It's like the makers of this film were on a totally different planet - the planet of Fuddie-duddie!
I did watch it all the way though (albeit noodling on the guitar the whole time) and I have to agree with nearly everyone about one thing: Sharon Tate is very sweet.
Thanks for reading! Bye!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I didn't really know what to expect from this movie because I had not read the book. It started off a bit slow but I found myself getting hooked into the characters lives. Annie was lovely and the actress that played her was really gorgeous. I was glad the end turned out like that for Annie because he did not deserve her. Susan Hayward was a delight as the aging stage star. Neely made me angry but then I felt sorry for her in the end, Patty played the nasty drug addicted star really well. Then there was the beautiful Sharon Tate, I found myself tearing up at Jennifer's fate but I think I was crying for Sharon too. I really enjoyed the film and would definitely watch it again. It was a good melodrama.
Has nice moments and catchy Dionne Warwick song, fits the theme of the
movie well. The reason to see "Valley of the Dolls" is Barbara Parkins.
She has an innocent sexiness to her character. She begins the movie
with a long train ride out of New England, and was in the ending too
(**not spoiling**). Patty Duke is miss-casted. Sharon Tate has little
to do but appear erotic. Of the three women, Barbara Parkins has the
most important screen time and in my opinion, adds elegance and beauty
to the screen and shows what women in another era was once like. Others
have called her restrained but I like the subtleness of her character.
Much has been said about Tate, but Parkins is in my opinion is the most
attractive female in the movie. Susan Hayward and Lee grant have cameos
in this movie.
Overall,its contrived but when you are in the right mood for 1967 camp classic from Hollywood, and accept its many faults, you could be in for a treat. Like I said already, Barbara Parkins is the reason for seeing the "Valley of the Dolls".
Another 5 on the WTF-o-meter... because depending on your tasters for bad films and awfully good ones, it can be a masterpiece of kino trash or so ghastly 60s pop kitch you want to hurl your biscuits at the screen. Played at 11 on the screechometer for full camp drama with three ingénues and one seriously deranged Judy-Merman type queen played with Crawford teeth by Susan Hayward, VALLEY OF THE DOLLS is a really hideous 60s 'star is bored' expose of NY stage and screen. It now of course is a comedy, no questions barred because of the arch bug-eyed acting and SERIOUS drama that is just plain laughable. There is a monumentally bad song spectacular called I'LL PLANT MY OWN TREE which needs to be preserved (or mummified) for posterity. What a howler. The gorgeous Sharon Tate only makes the film tragically sad for real but the rest oh whoo, blunderbuss acting that Yosemite Sam would love.
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