An unsuccessful over-the-top actress becomes a successful over-the-top authoress in this biography of Jacqueline Susann, the famed writer of "Valley of the Dolls" and other trashy novels. ...
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James Le Gros,
An unsuccessful over-the-top actress becomes a successful over-the-top authoress in this biography of Jacqueline Susann, the famed writer of "Valley of the Dolls" and other trashy novels. Facing a failing career, Susann meets a successful promoter who becomes her husband. After several failures to place her in commercials and a TV quiz show, he hits upon the idea for her to become a writer. In the pre-1960s, her books were looked upon as trash and non-printable. But then the sexual revolution hit and an audience was born for her books. The story shows the hidden behind the scenes story of Susann's life, including her autistic son and her continuing bout with cancer that she hid up to her death. Written by
John Sacksteder <email@example.com>
This movie is supposedly about Jacqueline Susann (Bette Midler) and husband Irving Mansfield (Nathan Lane). It chronicles how they met, fell in love and how she got "Valley of the Dolls" published. But this movie is a mess...and completely inaccurate.
For starters, Midler doesn't even remotely look like Susann or act like her. I've read at least 3 books on Susann as well as various articles - she was an ambitious, intelligent, driven woman. As Midler portrays her she is stupid, obnoxious, VERY loud and foul-mouthed. I'm no prude but there's way too much swearing from her in this--I have my doubts that Susann ever talked like that. Also they take actual events from Susann's life and fictionalizes them. When she is told in the movie to edit her book she acts like an idiot and refuses to help. In real life, Susann agreed to help make the book better with no fuss. And, Susann had a "Wishing Hill" (as she called it) in Central Park. It was basically a huge pile of rocks where she sat to clear her mind and relax. Here it's turned into a giant tree (????) and we have sequences with Lane and Midler talking, yelling and swearing at it. It's a wonder that those two managed to pull it off without looking like idiots.
As you can see, this is a bad film--but just so much FUN to watch! The incredible costumes and set design are just great--colorful and very true to the period. Some of the lines are actually very funny. Nathan Lane is great as Mansfield and Stockard Channing (as her best friend) and David Hyde Pierce (as her publisher) are hysterical and offer strong support. And Christopher McDonald and John Larroquette throw in cameos. Also John Cleese is on hand but he's wasted. Then there's Midler....she's AWFUL! Loud, shrill and thoroughly unlikable. When she was dying at the end I could have cared less. If she had toned down her performance and not played every scene at full tilt this might have worked. But she doesn't. However, she is fun to watch--a textbook example of how NOT to play a role.
The studio (understandably) threw this film away. It came and went VERY quickly and was a commercial disaster. Still, I'm giving it a 7--it's so incredibly bad that it's fun to watch! A must-see on that level.
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