Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970)
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Movie InfoAfter nearly a decade as one of America's most successful independent filmmakers, legendary sexploitation auteur Russ Meyer first reached out for the brass ring of major studio success with this frantic cult favorite, once described by Meyer and screenwriter Roger Ebert as "the first exploitation-horror-camp-musical." Kelly McNamara (Dolly Read), Casey Anderson (Cynthia Myers), and Petronella Danforth (Marcia McBroom) are the three members of an all-girl rock band called "the Kelly Affair" who pull up stakes for Hollywood in search of stardom; they're accompanied by their manager, Harris Allsworth (David Gurian), who also happens to be Kelly's boyfriend. Kelly has an aunt in Hollywood, fashion mogul Susan Lake (Phyllis Davis), who takes Kelly under her wing and informs her she's entitled to a share of a recent family inheritance, much to the chagrin of Susan's lawyer, the shifty Porter Hall (Duncan McLeod). Susan arranges for Kelly and her bandmates to attend a wild party thrown by Ronnie "Z-Man" Barzell (John La Zar), a flamboyant and very successful record producer; Z-Man renames the band "the Carrie Nations," signs them to a record deal, and they're one of the biggest acts in America practically overnight. However, Harris is pushed out of the picture as the band's manager by Z-Man, and as Kelly's boyfriend by actor and gigolo Lance Rocke (Michael Blodgett), sending Harris into a deep depression even after he becomes the new boy-toy of adult film star Ashley St. Ives (Edy Williams). Meanwhile, Petronella finds love with law student Emerson Thorne (Harrison Page) until her head is turned by heavyweight boxing champion Randy Black (Jim Iglehart), and Casey explores her sexual boundaries with Roxanne (Erica Gavin), a beautiful lesbian designer. This nonstop train of decadence, drugs, and betrayal finally comes off the rails during a drug-fueled orgy at Z-Man's mansion, which erupts into violence when the rock mogul's darkest secret is revealed. Featuring one-hit wonders the Strawberry Alarm Clock, supporting performances by Meyer regulars Charles Napier and Haji, and a bit part from future blaxploitation icon Pam Grier, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls proved to be Meyer's biggest box-office success, though after his next film (The Seven Minutes) bombed at the box office, he returned to independent production in 1973. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi … More
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Critic Reviews for Beyond the Valley of the Dolls
This trashy, gaudy, sound-stage vulgarity about low life among the high life is as funny as a burning orphanage.
With his first movie for a major studio, Meyer simply did what he'd been doing for years, only bigger and better.
Any movie that Jacqueline Susann thinks would damage her reputation as a writer cannot be all bad. Beyond the Valley of the Dolls isn't -- which is not to say it is any good.
A psychedelic wow that serves up the free love, plunging necklines, androgynous boys, and lusty lezzies of the era with a narcotized abandon.
Although it would not be appropriate for me to review it or give it a star rating, I offer the following observations written for Film Comment magazine on the occasion of the movie's 10th anniversary in 1980.
A funky, wonky, and entertaining jolt into the decade that bred free loving, hipster rockers, and hippies...
The very definition of self-conscious camp, certainly not Art but much too intelligent for Trash.
An outrageously entertaining cult classic, and probably one of the most bizarre movies ever produced by a major Hollywood studio.
One of the strangest and wildest cult flicks to be ever financed by a major studio (Fox), this sequel has not aged well but it serves as a time capsule to its era.
Beyond the Valley of the Dolls is one of the most incomprehensible films I have ever seen.
Schlock most famous due to Roger Ebert's screenplay.
As his overactive jump cuts prove, Meyer directs films as though he's perpetually on the cusp of a fantastic orgasm.
Audience Reviews for Beyond the Valley of the Dolls
This movie is a semi spoof of Valley of the Dolls, and it's very funny. The girls find themselves in crazy situations, there's a lot of crazy orgy parties, and the characters are crazy too. A classic cult film, check it out, I love it.More
I have no idea what the fuck I just watched, but I kind of loved it. This is High Camp, effortless and energetic and unironically involving. I was totally submerged in the bizarre plot until the last ten minutes or so, which I think is an incredible triumph on Russ Meyer's part, until I realized that a woman was being chased around by a breasted man in a cape calling himself Superwoman. There are some things that you simply CAN'T suspend disbelief for, but the movie isn't any weaker for it...it just kicks it back to camp land.
Beyond the Valley of the Dolls will probably have zero crossover appeal to anyone who doesn't like shitty movies, which makes me sad. I wouldn't even try to initiate a friend with this, either. The drop into awfulness is very steep and played almost totally straight, which I really admire Dolls for. The only irony you find in the movie is blink-and-you'll-miss-them lines to the audience. I read an interview that Roger Ebert, who wrote the movie, did with someone, in which he claimed that he wrote the film as a parody of violent shitty movies, and the interviewer replied "did the director know this?"
Apparently not. And that is good.
I was not prepared for how awesome this movie was, nor had I realized how many films I have seen were clearly inspired by it.More
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