Valley of the Dolls (1967) Poster

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"This is my yard/So I will try hard/To welcome friends/I have yet to know!"
TJBNYC27 July 2001
This is it, kiddies, the Grande Dame of camp classics. The sheer ineptitude of everyone involved is staggering. Mark Robson directs without a trace of nuance or subtlety; Patty Duke and Susan Hayward come off as boozy drag queens; Sharon Tate and Barbara Parkins look and act as if they had taken one downer too many; Dory and Andre Previn's musical numbers are as funny as those in "The Operetta"--the "I Love Lucy" episode which parodied musical theater; Billy Travilla concocts some of the most glamorously god-awful gowns ever seen; and Kenneth (of Hairstyles by Kenneth, of course) must be personally responsible for the hole in the ozone layer, so lacquered, teased and towering are his creations. But, you know what? IT ALL WORKS. The source material--Jacqueline Susann's groundbreaking, scandalous novel--begs for sledgehammer direction, overripe acting and eyepopping fashions. Certainly, subtlety was not a hallmark of Jackie's work. If anything, VOTD should have been even MORE over-the-top. Due to restrictions of the time, the film is sadly devoid of such juicy plotlines as Jennifer's lesbian affair, Tony's preference for - ahem - rear-entry intercourse, and Neely walking in on Ted Casablanca's tryst with another man. What we have, instead, is an endlessly entertaining piece of cinematic trash that is nowhere near as racy as it would like us to believe; and that's part of its twisted charm. Because it fails on so many levels--as true art, as explicitly sexual titillation, or as a faithful adaptation of a popular book--it's downright inspiring that it comes together so brilliantly. VOTD's ultimate triumph is that, despite its incredible waste of talent, time and money, 30 years later, we're still watching.
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"My beautiful little dolls. Just one...and one more."
Vince-55 May 2001
The film adaptation of Valley of the Dolls is stupid, empty, overly melodramatic...and a lot of fun!

Jacqueline Susann's 1966 novel is my all-time favorite, and her gritty, glossy pulp material was severely diluted for the big screen. That is the main problem. Too many punches are pulled, the characters are sweetened up, and a completely ridiculous happy ending (which Jackie hated) is substituted for the book's bleak, satisfying conclusion. Mark Robson's film has none of the spirit of its basis.

With that out of the way, the movie is very enjoyable for what it is: An unintentional laugh riot. The dialogue is hilarious and eminently quotable--"Boobies, boobies, boobies! Nothin' but boobies! Who needs 'em? I never had any! Didn't hurt me none!" Most of the supposedly "dramatic" and "touching" scenes are a scream. Patty Duke is priceless as the speech-slurring, tantrum-throwing, self-destructive Neely O'Hara. Watch her flailing around during the "It's Impossible" number; notice the embarrassing position of her beads. Barbara Parkins seems to have taken one Seconal too many before shooting, as she appears to be completely anesthetized. Susan Hayward gets to bellow a lot, fight with Duke, and get her wig thrown into a toilet in the most famous scene. The only one who comes off really well is Sharon Tate, a talent who never got the attention she deserved in life. Hers are the only genuinely affecting moments in the film, especially her final scene.

The candy-colored photography is good, beautifully capturing the glossy red capsules taken at every turn. The hair and fashions are glamorous--and so is the hairspray can! Dionne Warwick sings the beautiful theme, and the rest of the songs are enjoyably silly. I have the soundtrack LP--TWO copies! In conclusion, the ultimate camp classic! I'm off to take another doll now....
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Oscar Time!
Gothick7 June 1999
One of the great landmarks in the history of American cinema. This is one of those movies that tells it like it is, takes it on the chin, and really shows some SPARKLE. Oh yeah, the wigs and gowns are fab, too, especially that sequined poison-green trapeze minidress Patty Duke is too trashed to get into towards the end.

There is a kind of sublime awfulness about the performances that elevates every sentence in the screenplay to some scriptural stratum of indelible elegance. Lines like "Gee, honey, that ole witch oughta be boiled in oil," "You're not the BREADWINNAH either," and "SPARKLE, Neely, SPARKLE" ring with poetic resonance in one's mind long after viewing the film. Especially when you find yourself compulsively watching it over and over and over again...

The montage sequences are unbelievably powerful. Forget Medium Cool, you haven't experienced the true tacky splendor of the Sixties till you've seen Barbara Parkins' Gillian Girl Commercial. Get the soundtrack and use the jingle composed by master artiste Andre Previn on your answering machine. Why, all your friends will be ringing the phone off the hook just to have a listen.

As Superstar Helen Lawson, Susan Hayward is head and shoulderpads above the rest of the cast, especially when she's attempting to lipsynch her way through "I'll plant my own tree" while dodging the giant translucent fake Calder mobile (probably built by Monsanto) that's slowly revolving around her. The symbolic-castration wig-in-the-loo sequence has to be seen to be believed. "I'll go out the way I came in" admirably sums up the sentiments of everyone connected with this movie after it was released. See Patty Duke's autobiography for some anecdotes about the filming.

This movie pretty much destroyed Director Mark Robson's career, but it made pots and pots of money for the studio, and was still playing drive in theatres around the country years after its release. And curiously enough, many women I have known now in their fifties and sixties felt drawn to this film, felt that it spoke to them (if not for them) in a way nothing else up till that time had done.
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Gotta Get ON This Merry-Go-Round!
phillindholm18 April 2006
This film has everything: (1) A pure, virginal heroine (Barbara Parkins). (2) A basically nice kid corrupted by "Show Business" (Patty Duke). (3) A talentless but good-hearted beauty who meets a sad end (Sharon Tate). (4) An aging musical comedy star desperate to protect her position (Susan Hayward). (5) An assortment of weak, false and unfaithful men (Martin Milner, Tony Scotti and Paul Burke). (6) A seemingly controlling sister-in-law who is hiding a TERRIBLE SECRET (Lee Grant). (7) Several musical numbers with beautiful arrangements (Andre Previn and John Williams) but atrocious lyrics (Dory Previn). (8) Said performers cavorting in front of glamorous sets and handsome scenery. (9) A "Moralistic Happy" ending. (10) Uninterrupted Stupidity.
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Am I Really So Wrong For Liking This Movie?
Marionetta23 June 2004
I must be crazy. Just after watching this movie, I got on IMDb to see what its rating was, and, honestly, I was expecting something a lot higher. I don't consider this movie a turning point in the film industry, but I certainly wouldn't call it bad. It's not bad. I didn't notice any flaws in the acting (which is the principle instrument for telling a movie's story)---I personally thought that Patty Duke's performance was amazing. The storyline intrigued me, and I liked the characters---especially Barbara Parkins' Anne, who I felt myself relating to by the end of the movie.

Like I said, I must be crazy. I wouldn't say this is the best movie ever made, but I thought it was rather good. I'd sit through this any day before I'd watch LORD OF THE RINGS. I guess I must have missed the horrid atrocities of this film. I'd recommend it to anyone with an interest in the darker side of show biz'.
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One of my favorites
ndu686 November 2005
I first saw this movie when it was released. I never appreciated it until I was older. Totally camp...totally PERFECT. Fashion, hair, acting, music. The whole package. Definitely on my list of top five favorite movies of all time! I know it's not good....but, damn, it's GREAT!!!! Patty Duke is trying SO hard to make this movie real,which just makes it worse...or better, depending on your view! I can't wait till it comes out on DVD. There are so many memorable moments from this film. Rent it, buy it... watch it on cable. But SEE IT! Valley of the Dolls ROCKS! "Sparkle Neeley, SPARKLE!" Let this generation have "Showgirls"-- WE have Valley of the Dolls!
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A sequel to "Babes in Toyland"?
efitness10 September 2004
Warning: Spoilers
So many of the other comments already say all there is to be said about this one-of- a -kind treasure of a movie monstrosity, so I'll just add a slightly different perspective.

I saw this movie for the first time in 1967 when I was 10 years old. Though the posters screamed 'Not Suitable for Children!' my unwitting mother ('Valley of the Dolls?' must be a sequel to 'Babes in Toyland') and the inattentive box-office lady made me and my sisters very very happy that day.


I was too old to know what trash or camp was back then, so I took it all VERY seriously.

I recall that I found Barbara Parkins to be absolutely gorgeous. Like one of those ladies in the Breck ads.

I remember being shocked on seeing Patty Duke (who I had heretofore only seen in black and white and as a twin) swear like a sailor in a bra and slip. I couldn't get the image of that tight, push up bra and the fat bulging over the top of her slip out of my mind for years. To my eyes, she gave a WONDERFUL performance…but back then I had only Haley Mills and Annette Funicello to compare her to.

Sharon Tate's character was my favorite and I remember bawling like a baby when her character commits suicide.

Susan Hayward made little impression on me aside from her 'I'll Plant My Own Tree' number, which to eyes looked like a number from The Ed Sullivan Show that I got to see in color and blown up 30 times the size of our TV set.

None of the film seemed corny and indeed I did find it shocking and brutal, full of mean people doing awful things to these pretty girls. If anything struck me as 'dirty' and unsuitable for kids, I have to say that my mind did flips when in this musical scene this necklace of Patty Duke's takes on a life of its own, eventually framing each boob in glittering beads. I don't think I heard a word she sang! Boobs were new to me then (let's be honest, they still are) and I couldn't take my eyes off of that offending necklace. I thought it was done on purpose, like some dirty special effects joke that only adults understood.

As an adult I have seen the film hundreds of times, attended the word-for-word stage show based on the film about 10 times, and I never tire of laughing at this misguided but endlessly enjoyable mess.

But it pleases me to remember that there was once a moment in time where I saw the film as a serious drama, as it was originally intended to be. Clearly, they should have marketed the film to ten year olds.
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No flick is for literally EVERYone...
TheConsensusOpinion5 December 2004
I find it interesting that so many feel it is essential to lambaste a film like VOTD. It is what it is -- and, like it or not, it does "work."

Is it dated? Well, let me answer that by asking the eternal question, "Does Raggedy Ann have cotton BOOBIES?" (Perhaps they're polyester, but you get the...uh -- point.) One simply cannot view all movies the same way -- let alone expect the same 'standards' for/from them. Were some of you anticipating Shakespeare or perhaps 'The Lion in Winter' when viewing VOTD?

This film sought to depict the PERCEIVED lives of entertainment professionals of the era, and in most ways it succeeds. Anyone worthy of his PEOPLE magazine subscription knows full-well that a great many such individuals lead tawdry lives and quite regularly spout inane, and mundane (not to mention SO VERY lame) bits of 'dialogue' ...

And has there ever -- and I do mean EVER -- been a bio of such a person that did NOT include the requisite drug addictions and 'rite-of-passage' stay at Betty Ford (or its predecessors), abortions, suicide attempts, medical emergencies, or otherwise 'near-tragic' near-endings?

There are many questions one really must ask himself when attempting to absorb fare such as this. And I actually believe that at least on one level VOTD is bona fide brilliant. Consider from whose point of view this material is seen. What did the consumers of entertainers expect or presume about the lives of 'stars' and public persons based on the limited blurbs of truth, rumor and innuendo leaked out in the 60's?

This flick is attempting to convey the general theme that people of that ilk and the lengths to which they were willing to go to achieve or maintain their perceived "status" were simply 'NOT TO BE BELIEVED' ... And finding fault with the production design or style of images filmed in the late 1960s is simply irrelevant in a story about people from (not to mention filmed in) that era!

One should also consider whether or not it was possible for the average viewer to have -- in any sense -- a "realistic" image of individuals who occupied this starry realm in a time long before 'Biography,' 'The E! True Hollywood Story,' and 'VH1's Behind the Music' ... With free love bustin' out all over why on earth would the people out there 'in the dark' want or expect those giant heads to look, act, or sound like the person sitting beside them (or those pitiful small, shrunken-by-censors heads from television)?

And if the hindsight of such expository cable programs today have told us anything at all about 'celebrities' it's that their lives actually ARE -- in so very many ways -- clichés!

By my accounting VOTD got it right -- exactly right. And I'll stake my film school (AND academic) education(s) and unfailing, critical eye on that. I love this film. Is it one of the ten best films of all time? Well, no -- it certainly isn't. But it IS one of my ten most favorite films of all time. (And not only should the theme song have been nominated for 'Song of the year' by the Academy -- it should have WON the Oscar... And I'll stake my undergrad music major education on THAT! It never ceases to amaze me how consistently the voters get that category exactly WRONG...)
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Perfect, delicious, pure trash!
Agfay29 July 1999
Probably my favorite film of all time. The best classic trash, with the greatest costumes, and the biggest hair! Watch for the poolside scene in which Patty Duke, Martin Milner, and Sharon Tate all say "fag"! I'm sure everyone on Earth noticed the famous "beads-around-the-breasts" shot, so we won't go there. My favorite line: Barbara Parkins tells Patty Duke that she shouldn't be taking her "dolls" with alcohol, and Patty says "It makes 'em work faster."
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Such an enigma
T-Boy-326 July 1999
Warning: Spoilers
It's not just the artistic montages, stylized performances, and can't-get-it-out-of-your-head music that puts Valley of the Dolls head and shoulders above most films. What puts this in a class by itself is that it is one film that dares to leave unanswered questions. Even after repeated viewings I found myself pondering the following (NOTE: I don't think any of this info is a real "spoiler," but all the same, you should probably see the movie before reading further):

--How DOES Neely get those beads to cup her breasts that way? Could this be the subtext of the song she's singing: "It's Impossible"?

--If Tony Polar is in a vegetative state, what on earth is he doing at a dance? Was this the filmmaker's sly commentary on the healthcare system?

--If singing a duet with Neely can bring Tony back from the brink of catatonia, wouldn't it be better for everyone involved if they took him out of the hospital and moved him to Vegas, where he could once again live a productive life?

--If your best friend was a reluctant porn star, and she was facing a mastectomy, would you try to cheer her up by inviting her to the beach? Was this the filmmaker's sly commentary on the intelligence level of super models?

--If Helen Lawson gets acclaim for her off-key singing of a song about trees while dodging shards of glass, what in God's name did she do onstage in the show at the end that looks like it's going to flop? THAT would have been an interesting piece of film.

Yes, this truly is a film that demands repeated viewings. A perfect 10.
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A Movie Worth Seeing
tightspotkilo18 August 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Valley of the Dolls was the most hyped movie in 1967. People who come here to read about it probably have already seen it, and also know at least some of the back story about it, so I won't belabor all that. What follows instead is my view of where this film fits in its time. If you haven't seen the movie, and if you are genuinely curious about it, read on. I have no spoilers, and I have a suggestion for you.

It's been said that 1967 was the best year ever for movies. The Graduate, Cool Hand Luke, In The Heat of the Night, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, Bonnie and Clyde, and The Dirty Dozen. Remarkable films all. There might be one such notable movie in any one year. Two would be unusual. But six in one year? Extraordinary.

And, dropping down a notch, even some of the lesser known or less remembered 1967 offerings were pretty good. It was the middle of the cold war, so the spy genre dominated. Sean Connery made his 007 appearance in You Only Live Twice. But the James Bond franchise had some competition in 1967. James Coburn appeared in two, In Like Flint and The President's Analyst. And then there was the big budget spoof, Casino Royale. I'm tempted to mention Dean Martin and The Ambushers and include it on the 1967 spy movie list, but, to be honest, it's a movie that deserves to be forgotten. Beyond the spy stuff, George C. Scott was the Film Flam Man, and Julie Andrews was Thoroughly Modern Millie.

1967 was indeed a very good year for movies. It's hard to flatly state that it was the very best movie year ever, because how could one possibly measure that? It is based on pure opinion. But I can't name another year that was any better than 1967.

Which brings us back to the Valley of the Dolls, whose makers surely endeavored with it to make the very best film of 1967. It's bemusing to read or hear laments about how dreadful Valley of the Dolls is. Hello? Valley of the Dolls is what it is, and a big-budget Hollywood production of a Jacqueline Susann novel is what it is. This is what you get when you do that. What, you seriously expected something else? You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. It really doesn't seem quite so awful when you think about it that way.

Or, look at it this way: compare Jacqueline Susann to Harold Robbins. Contemporaries, although Susann died way too young at 56. Both plied the epic pulp fiction trade, and both were enormously successful at it. Both followed the same basic formula, exploiting tawdry little scandalous shockers --things that pushed the envelope of moral acceptability in those more encumbered times-- shocking the world by telling the dirty little secrets of the rich, powerful, and famous, and the things that they were supposedly doing behind the scenes. And both had big novels adapted to the big screen. Does anyone lament about how awful The Carpetbaggers or The Adventurers are? Why not? Because they are good? Well, not exactly. Maybe it's because no one ever had any other expectations.

Did any studio ever spend the kind of money adapting a Harold Robbins movie that was spent on Valley of the Dolls, and then hype it to the same extent? Not that I know of. Valley of the Dolls was off the charts. The error of raised expectations, that's what happened here. And it's obvious how it happened. The studio took a monumentally best-selling epic novel, and banked on piggy-backing their way to a monumentally huge epic blockbuster. So in that spirit they poured a lot into it. As a production, the movie is first rate. Good stars and a good cast. Good sets. Fashionable fashions. Style. And a soundtrack second to none. And it all works. As best as it can anyway, given the source material.

Much of the criticism of the movie can be tied to one fundamental flaw in the basic premise. Jacqueline Susann was a woman of the 1940s and 1950s, and her story fits those times, when Judy Garland really was hooked on barbiturates and amphetamines. But Valley of the Dolls is a 1967 movie, with a 1967 setting, and by 1967 Susann's premise was old hat, even passé. This flaw in timing seriously undermines the story and the movie.

So what we have is a big-budget movie made with production values galore, but based on a cheesy quasi-romance, quasi-pulp novel, and which is out of sync timing-wise. But, hey, other than all that, it's a good movie. It does manage to rise above its problems. Its superior production values save it.

Many people view Valley of the Dolls as a curiosity, because of Sharon Tate. Okay. It is a showcase for her. Oddly it also tries to showcase Barbara Parkins and Patty Duke. All three were budding starlets who surely saw this film as a major career opportunity. Odd, because it utterly failed to boost anyone's career. Patty Duke was already famous for her Oscar-winning role in Miracle Worker, and for her own television series, still her main claims to fame. Barbara Parkins's career never really went anywhere. Sharon Tate most likely would've gone on to greater things, but never got the chance. This became her primary showcase.

For those of you who haven't seen Valley of the Dolls, I strongly recommend that you read the book first. Most of us who saw it in 1967 did it that way. I believe that the movie will be much more meaningful that way.

How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying was my personal favorite 1967 movie. Just an opinion. I believe it captures the times the best. Valley of the Dolls is out of time, but is still worth seeing.
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Trash--with a twist!
denis-389 December 2002
There's nothing I can add to the many hilarious and trenchant comments of other IMDB users--"Valley" will live forever as one of the greatest bad movies ever. But here's something nobody else has picked up on. The scene when Patty/Neely discovers hubby Ted cavorting in the pool with another woman? Well, before Patty/Neely sees them, she hears splashing and giddy, girlish laugh. That splash and laugh are Marilyn Monroe--audio from her famous nude swim scene in "Something's Git To Give," the movie she never finished.

Somebody at 20th Century Fox--MM's home studio--had a perverse sense of humor!
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On SECOND Thought...
gevaultski18 April 2001
As an ardent admirer of Patty Duke since 1962 and her incredible performance in THE MIRACLE WORKER, then following her likeable hi-jinks on the wholesome PATTY DUKE SHOW, where she "reflected" my adolescent years, I was one of millions of devoted fans who looked eagerly for her continued success when it was announced she'd play Neely O'Hara in the filmed version of Jackie Sussan's blockbuster, steamy novel.

The Hollywood hoopla that surrounded that production - while it was still being made - was totally "over the top" in its pre-marketing and advance "Oscar buzz" ... all of which I "bought into," being a naive, easily influenced, 15-year old, pulling to see her favorite star make film headlines again as the terrific, young actress she was already as.

Now, everyone knows, the film itself was so incredibly "over the top" and incompetent in its efforts that it received possibly the WORST reviews ever given to a much ballyhoo'd movie. On top of that, Ms. Duke was, in my opinion, the star of the ill-written/ill-directed Valley of the Dolls, and resultantly, took most of the brunt of the blasting from the critics and the public.

I was personally devasted by the excruciating artistic failure my favorite actress endured and was equally fearful that this ridiculously dumb piece of filmmaking would bring an end to her (until-then) astonishing career.

It darn near did.

I can't tell you how many times, or how many people, I had to fend off in defense of my allegiance to Patty Duke and my belief in her as a actress, because of the film fiasco which has come to be known as VALLEY OF THE DULLS.

But on second thought (not to be confused with Seconal thoughts!)... some 30+ years after its release, DOLLS emerges as the BEST WORST MOVIE ever made. As such, its place in film history is enshrined; it epitomizes (perhaps DEFINES) the pop culture term: "camp classic."

Thankfully, Patty Duke ("Call Her Anna" now), recovered nicely - in many ways beyond the artistic sense - and redeemed herself by proving her talents - racking up an impressive body of award-winning roles and proving that that one big-bomb (I mean, BIG) does not mean the ruin of a career. As reported now, Ms. Duke laughs, along with the rest of us, at the cinema-ineptitude of VofD.

So, on second thought I've raised my IMBd rating of this film to a "10." First, because of its inarguable place in the annals of terrible movie-making. For that, it rates a "10" because it stands alone atop the Mt. Everest camp-genre. (As the film says, it's a lonely, empty climb!) But mostly because, for sheer laughs, it's unbeatable. As is its most celebrated survivor, Patty Duke.

(P.S. Check out AMC's Backstory: "The Making of the Valley of the Dolls" slated for April 23 01 with a repeat of same airing April 28 01. Should be fun.)
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Vapid, insipid trash. What's NOT to love?
TedEBear15 August 2001
Heavily edited between original book and final screenplay, VOTD still brings new depths to scenery chewing, cat fights, and glahmoor. BIG hair clashes with BIG egos as dialogue runs the gamut from whispered sincerity to bellowed anguish to shrieked disdain. Lessons are learned, vodka is drained, and dolls are abused to wake you up, put you to sleep, and help you get over the fact you signed the contract to do this movie and there's no way out. Your head will spin over how quickly and easily Barbara Parkins gets through her ordeals (any explanations gladly accepted!), yet meeting a Barbra Streisand lookalike sends Patty Duke off the wagon. SWOON over a soundtrack that sounds like it might have been written the night before filming started! GASP as Sharon Tate's character gets involved in nudie films that are a sight better than this one! LAUGH as you watch the Dance of Patty Duke's Necklace! THINK as you see why Judy Garland bailed when she had the chance! Everybody! On the count of three! One, two, three! NEEEEEELLLLLYYYYYY O'HAAAARRRRAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Sparkle, Neely, Sparkle !
RossRs30 December 2003
Warning: Spoilers
This is an odd movie. Scene by scene, it offers some of the most contrived situations and ludicrous dialogue ever filmed as serious drama - but the whole thing works brilliantly. Admittedly not as the drama it was intended to be, but as the kitschy entertaining spectacle that it has become. Each viewing brings to light yet another hidden nuance of high school scriptwriting and banal directing.

The actresses manage to do something with the appalling lines they were given and that's the big surprise - not that they're good, but that they are compulsively watchable. Could Patty Duke possibly chew more scenery? Patty's metamorphisis from the plucky likeable kid with buckets of talent, to the swaggering slut with the world at her feet and a chip on her shoulder, seems to take place at the exact moment the first 'doll' passes her lips. As a 'pitfalls of drugs' commentary this is about as convincing as "Reefer Madness" but way more entertaining. How is the mystique of Neely explained? Well.... At a telethon Neely proves that she has no dress sense whatsoever, can't dance to save her life and can make a really bad song sound even worse, yet inexplicably this seems to be her launching pad into a fabulous movie career and my goodness a Grammy! Neely who has already decided her New York apartment is way to small to accomodate her and her quickly sprouting ego, segues seemlessly into the stereotypical Hollywood dream house. How she managed to achieve this is anyone's guess but this is part of the fun - she doesn't just become successful, she becomes in the blink of an eye, a superstar on the basis of ... what? One or two off-key musical numbers and a dodgy dance routine? Her descent into a booze and doll soaked madness and the consequential destruction of her spectacular career are all part of the fun, and Patty never misses an opportunity to screech a line through the side of her mouth, that could have so simply, by a less dedicated actress, been merely spoken. She gives a sensational trainwreck of a performance, and just try not to watch her give her all.

The other side of the coin, is the totally prefabricated Barbara Parkins who woodenly marches across the screen like a Stepford Wife, while spouting a stream of inane and uncalled for dialogue. As Lyon Burke flirts with her for the first time, little Barbara sees her chance and without wasting barely a syllable, has subtly brought the subject of marriage into the conversation. Her mannequin like appearance is seen as the perfect embodiment of the "Gillian Girl" and before you know it, Barbara's Anne Welles is a famous in her stratosphere as Patty's Neely O'Hara is in hers.

All of it is so hard to believe and only the slightest attempt is made to explain it, so the audience is left with no choice but to just gulp it up. But seriously, would you buy makeup from this woman? But like all great tragediennes, the hell of drug use is ahead of her, and like Neely it only takes one dose and she's climbing the walls (as woodenly as ever) and then awakes face down but oddly glamorous on the beach of what we should assume is Malibu. "Well that was a close call" you can almost hear her say, and before you can click your heels together she's back in Laurenceville, melting into the quaintness and rejecting Lyon Burke. When she walks out of her own house into the the snowy landscape you have to wonder how far she walked before she remembered it was her house, and returned, perhaps a little sheepish and embarassed to send Lyon packing. In this scene there would be a moment of "Friends"like confusion as they trade places, probably both trying to squeeze through the door at the same time, and then Barbara would watch through the icy window, perhaps even through a lace curtain as Lyon walked purposefully away and forever out of her life. Her vacuous Barbie dollness would have made him a slave of regret forever. Now that's part of the fun of "Valley Of The Dolls" - contemplating the scenes that weren't written.

Last but not least in the trio, is the stunning Sharon Tate playing the stunning "all I have is a body" Jennifer. Sharon is genuinely beautiful and she is a completely convincing chorus girl in her flamboyantly overstated headdress. Like Marilyn Monroe she is allowed to make a huge impression walking away from the camera and as far as 'entrance scenes' go that's one that that's hard to beat. It's unfortunate that Sharon is saddled with some of the appalling dialogue that runs rampant throughout but she is delicately touching and at least seems to be trying to rise above her material. She hits the right note as a not too talented actress trying to do her best, with limited resources, and untimately at the mercy of the world. She's not great, but she is good. Her performance is persuasive in several of her scenes and she actually manages to make her character real in a way the other actresses can't achieve. Watching her it's very hard to detach from the reality of her fate, and it's hard to avoid relating Sharon's real tragedy with Jennifer's fictional one. She's very hard to watch, at least on this level. Maybe she would have gone on to bigger and better things, based on the little bit of potential she was able to show - or maybe she would have ended up doing a 5 year stint on "Falcon Crest". On this performance alone though, she is simply lovely.

Finally Susan Hayward. I've seen reviews comparing her to Joan Crawford in "The Best Of Everything" or a Margot Channing in decline but I beg to differ. I think she's Barbara Graham. Scene by scene all I can see is Susan in "I Want To Live" but this time the gutsy tough little broad isn't waiting on death row, spitting out lines like chewing tobacco. This time she's on a Broadway stage giving her absolute all - but it's the same performance basically. Is that bad? No, not at all. It's fun to see Susan Hayward recycling the tricks and cliches that had been so effective in the past, and creating a montrous gargoyle in the process. What she does have in common with the Joan Crawford role is the element of sadness. It is genuinely sad to see a person having to claw and struggle to survive for no reason other than the fact that the world which had been at her feet has moved on, and started to leave her behind as a relic of something that was once appreciated but is now out of date.

What the movie lacks is an emotional connection. The book, tawdry though it was, was well enough written, and the characters were explained. In the book the characters had a bond that had been born during the hard times they'd shared as young bright eyed wannabes. The movie glosses over this so completely that they seem to be little more than acquaintances. Neely rolling around in the alley in her final gutbusting scene is calling out the names of the people who once mattered to her, but what does it mean in the context of the movie, when these relationships are given no chance to be developed? That's where the movie fails - the gloriously bad writing failed completely to establish an emotional link between the characters.

Where it succeeds? - well it's over the top in a way few movies have managed to be, from Patty's drug addled harpy listening to her record on a jukebox in a sleazy bar, to Susan Hayward's brave attempt at avoiding being decapitated by a gaudy mobile while singing one of the worst songs ever inflicted upon an actress or an audience. The magical moments of madness would make quite a list. It's fun - and that's all it is - a mindless feast of caricature from the bland to the hysterical, and a time capsule of the 60's that like much bad art, manages to invoke it's era, create the illusion of something that never was and to improve with age.
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The best of its kind
Boyo-224 September 1999
This movie is the greatest example of 'camp' that Hollywood ever produced. It is hysterical, stupid and lame, but you cannot take your eyes off the screen for a second. The casting is questionable (Patty Duke cannot sing, Parkins cannot do drama and I cannot badmouth Tate, but...), but the greatest legacy is Susan Hayward as Helen Lawson, the biggest bitch in the world. No one spits out a swear word or an insult like Hayward!
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Yes, it is fun, but it is Also Well Made
jayraskin14 August 2010
I stayed away from this movie because generally it is considered a terrible movie that is so bad that it is funny. In fact, I think the film is engrossing and quite well made. It is not quite as good as Robson's "Peyton Place," but not too far from it.

I think most people now agree that the early critics were wrong about the performances, Susan Hayward is sufficiently Betty Davis-like cunning, Barbara Parkins is innocently sexy, and Sharon Tate is charming and radiant. The controversy, I think, still centers around Patty Duke's performance. The criticism is that it is "over the top". However, she is supposed to be addicted to drugs, so the "over the top" performance is quite appropriate. If you have ever known people in that condition, you will realize that they act in exactly that style. As often happens, people cannot distinguish between the role and the actress. That is actually a sign of good acting. While it is not an Oscar worthy performance, it is quite competent. I think it is really a shame that her association with the movie ultimately hurt her movie career. We should remember that it was the biggest grossing movie of 1967, grossing more than "The Graduate" and "Bonnie and Clyde" Obviously, people could not have found Duke's performance that bad or the movie couldn't have been so successful.

Incidentally, I think the studio made a terrible mistake by firing Judy Garland. Apparently, the first scene she shot did not go well, but this is normal for a film. It takes a while for an actor to get into a role. The studio should really have showed some respect for her talent and at least filmed a few more scenes before making a decision. Studios were experiencing lots of financial difficulties at this time, so I think that caused some unfounded fears that the film wouldn't recoup its cost if it had to spend a few days re-shooting a few scenes. Judy should not be blamed for bad studio decisions regarding her.

I hope people will stop putting this film on their "so bad, it's funny" list and recognize it as an enjoyable and well told 1960's story about the light and dark sides of life in Hollywood. Like "The Betsy" or "Inside Daisy Clover," it is well made and fun film with some powerful scenes and performances.
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'Oh, the Susan Hayward of it all!'
antares7429 June 2002
Classic, campy, and all around tragic (in a silly way). I wish I were Neely O'Hara with all those 'dolls'… (I'd wish to be Helen Lawson, but I don't think I can pull that off – even with years of lessons and continuing education at Miss Demeanor's charm school). It's a great imitation of life in art that makes you want to live with the following dogmas: vice is nice; all pills are conveniently packaged thrills; and that social climbing is totally acceptable – just make sure you visit your manicurist regularly to get your nails done – you don't want to be caught at the top with chipped fingernails from all that clawing and backstabbing. As Rupert Everett wrote in his seminal (literally) novel, 'Hello Darling, Are You Working?', 'one gets what one wants in the form that one deserves.' It may seem a horrible self-fulfilling prophecy, but whoever said that life is fair? At least this tragedy is closer to the truth. =)
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This movie is worth seeing for one beautiful reason
drguitar2078316 November 2005
This movie truly is badly done and campy. However, there is one good reason to watch it: Sharon Tate. She was truly one of the screen's all time beauties (if you disagree at first, name someone prettier =)

She is not a bad actress either and did her best with the forced, artificial dialog. Overall the movie has virtually no suspense or drama or tension it just chugs along predictably with one badly written scene after another. Then all of sudden Wham! Sharon appears and you stop caring about the worthless "plot" and watch her. She steals all her scenes and makes the other actresses invisible.

All in all its a bittersweet vehicle for an extraordinarily lovely woman who met a very violent and tragic end.
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Light, but not a bad film. Call me Mr. Welles.
rjsepes5 January 2005
Valley is light, but it's not bad like some people say. I thought it was OK, and entertaining. The girls are great to look at, even almost 40 years later. I saw enough character development and story to keep me interested. There are many nuances for viewers who bother to sit and watch, to see. There are many subtle references to real life Hollywood stars who had gone before, like Judy Garland and Marilyn Monroe. And, Barbara Parkins commented in an interview years later that the actors' future lives eerily mirrored their characters' lives. She mentioned that Patty Duke had emotional problems, like Neely; Sharon Tate did not live (was actually murdered) somewhat similar to Jennifer North's committing suicide; and she herself left the industry like Anne Welles did. Valley also has enduring, plain truths for anyone, man or woman, who works in a competitive profession. One of the chief ones is that not everyone is going to love you and there are going to be many self-interested people around to take advantage of your mistakes. If I had to identify with any one character, I'd be Mr. Welles.
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so bad it's good
blanche-216 June 2005
Boy, they sure used to know how to make bad movies. Nowadays, when movies are bad, they're boring and slow. Valley of the Dolls had everything - everything to make it the camp classic that it has become. Choice moment: The pathetic outfit Patty Duke wore on the telethon. When a sendoff of the film was done off-Broadway, the person who played Neely O'Hara had the necklace glued to her dress. Then there's the song "It's Impossible." I'm a musician. I've heard that song a million times and I can't hum it. Ditto "I'll Plant My Own Tree." The one song I do know is "Come Live with Me." More choice moments: the wig scene in the bathroom; "Art films! NUDIES!"; the scene in the asylum when Neely and Tony find one another vis a vis "Come Live with Me;" "I'll go out the way I came in," and of course that final "NEELY O'HARA!" Too many to list. Of course, it's very sad to watch Sharon Tate, a beautiful woman, and realize what happened to her. Barbara Parkins is very beautiful as well, and very '60s in that modeling montage.

Demands numerous viewings.
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Favorite Film
shulma200212 August 2008
I just watched "Valley" on DVD and it's still one of my favorite films. I was 21 when I saw it on the big screen. I know the critics said it was garbage and camp but I loved it. They even criticized the songs, especially the lyrics of "I'll Plant My Own Tree". I felt the film showed the "real" Hollywood, which the studios didn't want the fans to see. I agree that some of the scenes and acting were "Over-the-top", but for the most part, I enjoyed the acting. The score and soundtrack were outstanding, thanks to John Williams. Many of the costumes and hairdos were outlandish but were fun to see. I feel that the film got a raw deal. The DVD even shows Judy Garland testing for Helen Lawson and current interviews with Barbara Parkins and others. It is one of my favorite DVD's. The film is in letterbox and has few dirt spots. It even includes the warning at the beginning that the characters are fictional.
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TechnicallyTwisted20 September 1999
I give this film a 1 on the good film scale, but 10 on the so bad its good scale. You want melodrama? This is your film. Every aspect of this film is over-done, and if you are not in the mood for something like this avoid it. BUT if you watch it with a group of people, all with a sense of humor, you will find it great fun. My personal fave line in the film? "I'm not drunk...I'm merely traveling incognito!"
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Bad, yet entertaining
demunfallopferseinefrau19 January 2004
"Valley of the Dolls" is one of the best bad movies of the sixties, very entertaining in parts, and with a great score (which was nominated for an Academy Award back in 1968).

I think the weak acting was a result of Mark Robson's careless direction. The three leads, Parkis, Duke, and Tate, have all their bright moments in this movie, but they're just MOMENTS. Any of their characters are convincing, but at least poor Tate does a fair job (considered her lack of experience) as Jennifer, the film's most sympathetic character. It's Miss Hayward's performance, though, that steals the movie.

Otherwise this movie has a ridiculous story, a more-than-questionable message, trashy-looking sets, unintentional laughs, bad dialogues and pretty much the worst photography I've ever seen in a major Hollywood movie (it makes any daily soap look like a piece of art!).
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"Well Broadway doesn't go for booze and dope!"
Pat-5421 December 1998
If I'm ever depressed, all I have to do is watch VALLEY OF THE DOLLS and I'm hysterical with laughter. Now a cult film, you must see it repeatedly to be considered a gay man. If you're straight.....well, I guess you can watch it too!
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