Budgeted at a modest $900,000 (approximately $4.5 million in 2005 dollars), the film grossed ten times the amount in the US market, qualifying it as a hit for the beleaguered 20th Century-Fox. Though tame by modern standards, "Dolls" was slapped with an "X" rating, and there was much negative publicity generated by the fact a major studio had allowed a "pornographer", Russ Meyer (labeled "King Leer" by the mainstream press at the time) to make a Hollywood film under its aegis. Grace Kelly, who was a member of the board of directors of Fox, was outraged and lobbied to have the studio's contract with Meyer terminated. After his next Fox film, The Seven Minutes (1971) flopped at the box office (possibly due to its LACK of nudity and titillation), the studio terminated its relationship with Meyer. He never made another film for a studio.
According to Roger Ebert's audio commentary on the DVD, Russ Meyer was unaware that this film would get an X rating. Roger says that Russ would have added more nudity and sex to the film if he knew beforehand.
Originally intended as a sequel to Valley of the Dolls (1967). Jacqueline Susann submitted a screenplay for a sequel, but when Fox found it unsatisfactory, their contract gave them the right to produce a separate version. Susann was reportedly so offended by the results that she threatened to sue 20th Century-Fox. As part of a settlement, Fox inserted the disclaimer "This is not a sequel to VALLEY OF THE DOLLS" in all advertising.
Frequently touted as Pam Grier's film debut. She received an on-screen credit and a photo of her in a party scene was prominently featured in a 1970 Playboy layout on the film. Her role is very brief; she can't even be seen as an extra.
The outfit that Kelly borrows from her Aunt Susan to wear to the party at the beginning of the film is the one-piece pants suit that Sharon Tate wore in Valley of the Dolls (1967). Sharon wears it in the scene where she is watching Neely on television and Tony comes home to tell her (and sister Miriam) that the studio has dropped his option. Sharon is also wearing it (sans the metal link belt Kelly will add) in the photo on the cover of the Valley of the Dolls soundtrack LP.
In an oft-seen publicity picture of the three female leads posing on a bed, Dolly Read, Cynthia Myers and Marcia McBroom wear same outfits worn (respectively) by original Valley Of The Dolls stars Sharon Tate, Patty Duke and Barbara Parkins in similar bed publicity shot used in ads and soundtrack album cover of first film.
The character of Ronnie "Z-Man" Barzell was based loosely on legendary record producer Phil Spector. While neither Russ Meyer nor Roger Ebert had ever met Spector, they were told by acquaintances of his that they'd caught his essence very well.
According to screenwriter Roger Ebert, Z-Man's secret was not thought of until late in filming, and tacked on at the last minute. While fans feel that the film's dialogue hints at the secret, Ebert says it's only coincidence.
The theme song was re-recorded by Josie Cotton and released on the CD 'Invasion Of The B-Girls'. Russ Meyer threatened to sue Cotton if she put any of his title songs on her CD, but he died before he could follow through. Josie says that she didn't mean to steal from Meyer, but that she is a fan and it was meant as an homage.
Dolly Reed wears a polka dot lounge pants suit in the first party scene at Ronnie Z-Man's Malibu beach house that had been worn by Sharon Tate in the original Valley of the Dolls film. In the DVD commentary for BVD, Dolly Reed mentions this fact and that she had a crying fit that she did not wish to wear Sharon's old outfit as Sharon had already been murdered when the scene was being filmed.
During the infamous final party held at Z-Man's Malibu beach house, the character Roxanne is wearing one of the "Cat woman" costumes from the old Batman TV series while her girlfriend Casey is wearing one of Burt Ward's old Robin costumes from the same TV series.
20th Centry Fox recycled costumes from several recent films in BVD, including a Sharon Tate lounge pants suite worn by Dolly Reed, a golden caftan worn by Anne Jackson in Secret Life of an American Wife worn by Lavelle Roby, and extras wearing cast off costumes from Myra Breckenridge.
The trivia item below may give away important plot points.
Fearing that Z-Man's beheading of Lance Rock would result in an X-rating by the MPAA, Russ Meyer had the famous 20th Century Fox fanfare accompanying the scene, hoping to lower its gruesomeness by presenting it as satirical. The film still got an X-rating regardless.