VALLEY OF THE DOLLS
(directed by Mark Robson, 1967)
** (out of 5)
> I Finally got around to seeing this seminal schlock artifact from the late sixties. Taken from the Jacqueline Susann bestseller about Hollywood backstabbing and rampant drug use in the industry, it is a bitchfest. My interest was piqued while watching LIFE ITSELF, when I discovered in his early years, the great Roger Ebert was an uncredited screenwriter on the project.
. I expected this celebrated exploitation film to be rote, cliché-ridden and blandly plastic, and after a very promising first reel- that’s exactly what it devolved into. It is interesting to see tragic figure Sharon Tate in one of her last screen roles before becoming a victim of the Manson family rampage, and more than a little ironic that she is playing an actress with no particular talent, forced to resort to French “art films”, (a euphemism for soft-core nudies), to care for her ailing husband. Typecasting? It seems so. As a kid, remember having a big crush on Patty Duke, but she is absolutely terrible here, once she makes the transformation from eager, sincere young talent to bitter, nasty star. It’s a one-note performance that is all sniveling snarl and over-the-top histrionics.
. This pleasant turkey is interesting as an iconic time capsule of the style, mores and mindset of this transitional period of U.S. history- but not much more. By today’s standards, the constant use of the term “fag” as casual hate speech is shockingly egregious. When I was a vulnerable, sensitive child, “fag” was the worst thing playground bullies could think to call you. Now, such vileness is appropriately inappropriate. I imagine Roger Ebert had grown quite embarrassed by this crudeness before he reached the end.
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