Valley of the Dolls Reviews
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.
I've always wanted a remake of this with Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton and Britney Spears in the lead roles. How much fun would that be!
But holy shit, this movie. TNT doesn't know drama, Valley of the Dolls knows drama. It's like TMZ: the movie and it's just as good-bad as that concept suggests. Sex? Check. Drugs? Check. Pornography? Check. Affairs? Check. Breast Cancer? Check. Huntington's disease? Check. (okay this is starting to get weird...) Ageism? Check. Appreciation for Revolutionary War era architecture? Check. What else could you possibly want?
If the movie wasn't so cliche, I don't think it would work. But given the themes of emptiness and corruptive power of fame, the over-acted and cliche execution is perfect and warrants some consideration that the filmmakers knew exactly what they were doing in making such a subpar movie. It's an empty Hollywood film telling us how empty Hollywood is. Poetic, really.
All the lead actors do a phenomenal job, especially Sharon Tate and Patty Duke.