Valley of the Dolls (1967)
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No Top Critics Tomatometer score yet...
Movie InfoA cinematic take on a 1960s best-seller, Valley of the Dolls traces the ups and downs of three young women as fame, booze, pills, and men consume their lives. Well-bred, small-town Anne Welles (Peyton Place star Barbara Parkins) arrives in New York eager for fame but settles for a job assisting theatrical attorney Henry Bellamy (Robert H. Harris). The job leads her to cross paths with Helen Lawson (Hollywood veteran Susan Hayward), the grand dame of Broadway musicals, and Neely O'Hara (sitcom star Patty Duke), an up-and-coming performer whom Lawson unceremoniously boots from her latest show. Neely lands on her feet thanks to a series of nightclub gigs, and soon she and Anne befriend Jennifer North (Sharon Tate), a buxom starlet. As Neely becomes a huge star of stage and screen and Jennifer appears topless in a string of European "art" films, Anne becomes a wealthy cosmetics spokeswoman and suffers though a passionate but failed affair with aspiring writer Lyon Burke (Paul Burke). As the pressures of fame and failed romance take their toll on all three women, they take refuge in food, sex, liquor, and pills -- especially Neely, who becomes downright monstrous (the titular "dolls" are the uppers and downers to which she becomes hopelessly addicted). Although the film's characters are fictitious composites, Neely most closely resembles Judy Garland; Garland herself was originally cast as Lawson, but she was replaced after only a few days by Hayward. Although the film's trailer played up the story's titillating subject matter, the script for Valley of the Dolls actually toned down Jacqueline Susann's novel. And despite the fact that Dionne Warwick can be heard singing "(Theme From) The Valley of the Dolls" twice during the film, contractual snags kept her from releasing the soundtrack version; a different arrangement later became a number two pop hit in 1968. ~ Brian J. Dillard, Rovi … More
- PG-13 (for thematic elements involving substance abuse, some sexual content, partial nudity and language)
- Drama , Classics
- Directed By:
- Mark Robson
- Written By:
- Helen Deutsch , Dorothy Kingsley , Jacqueline Susann
- In Theaters:
- Dec 15, 1967 Wide
- On DVD:
- Jun 13, 2006
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Critic Reviews for Valley of the Dolls
Jacqueline Susann's 'exposé' of Hollywood gets the cliché-ridden treatment it deserves from Robson.
It's an unbelievably hackneyed and mawkish mish-mash of backstage plots and Peyton Place adumbrations.
It tries to raise itself to the level of sophisticated pornography, but fails. And it is dirty, not because it has lots of sex in it, but because it firmly believes that sex is dirty.
At the time sordid, now blase look at drug-infested Hollywood.
The choice of Mark Robson, a talented Hollywood journeyman director, for this piece of nonsense was inspired.
It's an okay premise, but it still is weighted down with so much of the 60s that I find it hard to relate.
Based on Susann's steamy bestseller, this delightfully absurd and lurid saga of three girls in "corrupt and corrupting" Hollywood has become a cult classic due to its campy lines.
You won't want to miss a word of the deliciously bad dialogue in this Hollywood tale of twisted sisters.
Absolute trash, but not without its cult appeal.
Audience Reviews for Valley of the Dolls
Valley of the Dolls follows the lives of three young women as they struggle to succeed in the cutthroat world of show business. Along the way they contend with drug abuse, alcoholism, adultery, abortion, Huntington's disease, suicide and Susan Hayward. In 1967 it's racy, risqué and controversial. In 2011 it seems exaggerated, sensationalized and preachy.More
Maybe it's a bit slow and we've seen this theme often, but this movie has something, it's very timely for the late sixties, and the cast is great. It's a good drama, even though some people think of it as campy now, I still like it.More
This is campy in a gentler way that most fans of camp are probably accustomed to, but the ridiculousness crackling beneath the surface is impossible to deny. The cast's incredible conviction in their material, all of them oblivious to how roundly awful it actually is, is what truly sells Valley of the Dolls. Patty Duke in particular is a delight; never in a million years would you believe that this ham beyond hams was an Oscar winner, hollering her name at the top of her lungs in a filthy alley and clamoring feverishly for her "dolls." You have to commend her dedication, because she truly does embody the character. Unfortunately, that character is less an actress on the fringes of self-destruction as she thinks it is, and mostly just a ridiculous woman with a pill problem. Sharon Tate offers us a woman who the film is trying to tell us, against all visual and inscribed evidence, is not mentally retarded; the challenge we have believing it is its other exciting bit of characterization.
The plot is ordinary and sort of tired, honestly, but the excitement comes out in how the little details interface with the big picture. I kind of love its woozy tightroping between luridity and prudishness. The film's total chagrin at nudity, breasts and sex in general (the total disdain for the French "nudie flick") seems kind of hilarious when it's exploiting feminine suffering in just about every other way possible. It's like, don't pretend you're too good to whip out some hoots every now and then. The movie's not misogynist, necessarily, inasmuch as any film with a female character encountering difficulty is, but its portraits aren't particularly flattering either. The only stable female character is a numbingly boring one, as if to suggest that a career-minded, anhedonistic woman is the only kind that can be successful. Gender politics aside, I don't really know if Valley of the Dolls was a very incisive look at Hollywood back in 1967, but I think its relative toothlessness in this day and age is pretty apparent. There's no doubt in my mind that shit like this still occurs, but the problems here feel endemic and our heroines are so chronically up against the wall that these people aren't really relatable. Poor Jennifer North runs across one of the most brutal streaks of bad luck ever committed to celluloid, but when you step back and look at it, it just reads as exploitative. And that's what I love about Valley of the Dolls: despite its delusions of grandeur, it isn't afraid to treat its characters like complete shit for no real reason.
All this said, I still prefer Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. All the verve, twice the bizarreness.
Valley of the Dolls Quotes
- Neely O'Hara:
- Goodbye, Pussycat. Meow.
- Helen Lawson:
- Broadway doesn't go for booze and dope.
- Ted Casablanca:
- She may be a little whore, but she makes me feel 9 feet tall.
- Neely O'Hara:
- Nudies, that's all they are--Nudies!
- Neely O'Hara:
- The whole world loves me!
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