Valley of the Dolls

1967

Valley of the Dolls

Critics Consensus

Trashy, campy, soapy, and melodramatic, Valley of the Dolls may be a dud as a Hollywood expose, but has nonetheless endured as a kitsch classic.

33%

TOMATOMETER

Reviews Counted: 36

58%
liked it

Audience Score

User Ratings: 5,587

TOMATOMETER

N/A
All Critics | Top Critics
Average Rating: N/A
Reviews Count: 0
Fresh: 0
Rotten: 0

AUDIENCE SCORE

58%
Average Rating: 3.3/5

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Movie Info

A 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

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Cast

Barbara Parkins
as Anne Welles
Patty Duke
as Neely O'Hara
Sharon Tate
as Jennifer North
Paul Burke
as Lyon Burke
Tony Scotti
as Tony Polar
Susan Hayward
as Helen Lawson
Alexander Davion
as Ted Casablanca
Lee Grant
as Miriam
Martin Milner
as Mel Anderson
Charles Drake
as Kevin Gilmore
Naomi Stevens
as Miss Steinberg
Robert H. Harris
as Henry Bellamy
Robert Viharo
as Director
Mikel Angel
as Man in Hotel Room
Barry Cahill
as Man in Bar
Richard Angarola
as Claude Chardot
Joey Bishop
as MC at Telethon
George Jessel
as MC at Grammy Awards
Judith Lowry
as Aunt Amy
Jeanne Gerson
as Neely's Maid
Linda Peck
as Telephone Girl
Pat Becker
as Telephone Girl
Corinna Tsopei
as Telephone Girl
Robert Street
as Choreographer
Robert Gibbons
as Desk Clerk at Lawrenceville Hotel
Leona Powers
as Woman at Martha Washington Hotel
Barry O'Hara
as Assistant Stage Manager
Peggy Rea
as Neely's Voice Coach
Norman Burton
as Neely's Hollywood Director
Margot Stevenson
as Anne's Mother
Jonathan Hawke
as Sanitarium Doctor
Richard Hoyt
as Reporter
Dorothy Neumann
as Neely's Maid
Charlotte Knight
as Neely's Maid
Robert L. McCord III
as Bartender at New York Theater
Gertrude Flynn
as Ladies' Room Attendant
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News & Interviews for Valley of the Dolls

Critic Reviews for Valley of the Dolls

All Critics (36) | Top Critics (6)

  • The cliche of show business as a dream world may have been wide-eyed and saccharine. But Novelist Susann's view of Hollywood as nightmare Valley merely adds up to the old naivete in reverse.

    Mar 26, 2019 | Full Review…
  • Parkins and Tate, the latter particularly good, suffer from under-emphasis in early reels, and corny plot resolution.

    Mar 11, 2009 | Full Review…

    Variety Staff

    Variety
    Top Critic
  • Too dull even to function as camp.

    Oct 17, 2007 | Full Review…
  • Jacqueline Susann's 'exposé' of Hollywood gets the cliché-ridden treatment it deserves from Robson.

    Jan 26, 2006 | Full Review…

    Chris Petit

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • It's an unbelievably hackneyed and mawkish mish-mash of backstage plots and Peyton Place adumbrations.

    May 9, 2005 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    Oct 23, 2004 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Valley of the Dolls

½

A terrible film that feels tremendously dated today, as I imagine it did just as well back in the 1960s (although obviously not from a thematic point of view), like a mawkish vintage soap opera that is not ashamed of its laughable dialogue and absurd situations.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

A fairly good take at the life of the 60s but I didn't care for it very much.

Cassie Hill
Cassie Hill

Super Reviewer

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.

Randy Tippy
Randy Tippy

Super Reviewer

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.

Aj V
Aj V

Super Reviewer

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