Friday, June 30, 2006

Overlooked Movies: Beyond the Valley of the Dolls

We wrote the screenplay in six weeks flat, laughing maniacally from time to time, and then the movie was made. Whatever its faults or virtues, "Beyond the Valley of the Dolls" is an original -- a satire of Hollywood conventions, genres, situations, dialogue, characters and success formulas, heavily overlaid with such shocking violence that some critics didn't know whether the movie "knew" it was a comedy. ~Roger Ebert on Beyond the Valley of the Dolls

This film is a sequel in name only to Valley of the Dolls (1967). An all-girl rock band goes to Hollywood to make it big. There they find success, but luckily for us, they sink into a cesspool of decadence. This film has a sleeping woman performing on a gun which is in her mouth. It has women posing as men. It has lesbian sex scenes. It is also written by Roger Ebert, who had become friends with Russ Meyer after writing favorable reviews of several of his films.

Click here to read The Onion's AV Club review.

Click here to watch a trailer for Beyond the Valley of the Dolls:

Remember to carefully choose your doctors and maybe a doll or two will get you through the rough spots.

This time... they've really gone
The first of the shock rock!
This Is Not A Sequel. There Has Never Been Anything Like It!
The world is full of them, the super-octane girls who are old at twenty. If they get to be twenty.

 Fun Trivia:
Originally intended as a sequel to Valley of the Dolls (1967) but written instead as a pastiche of it, the studio insisted on the disclaimer at the beginning distancing it from the earlier movie.

The ending was not in the script. Roger Ebert and Russ Meyer came up with the idea on the day of shooting.

In 2001, the Village Voice named the film #87 on its list of the 100 Greatest Films of the Century.

The character of Ronnie "Z-Man" Barzell was based loosely on legendary record producer Phil Spector. While neither Meyer nor Ebert had ever met Spector, they were told by acquaintances of his that they'd caught his essence very well.

During a party scene Cynthia Meyer is dressed as Robin the Boy Wonder. It is the actual costume Burt Ward wore on the Batman TV show. Cynthia Myers fit in Burt Ward's costume?

Director Meyer once said he considers this film to be his "most important".

Fun Quotes:
Ronnie (Z-Man) Barzell: This is my happening and it freaks me out!

Ashley St. Ives: You're a groovy boy. I'd like to strap you on sometime

Partygoer #1: You're a moonchild.
Partygoer #2: And you're a bitch! .

Ronnie (Z-Man) Barzell: You will drink the black sperm of my vengence.

Erica Gavin on Russ Meyer:

Russ always took whatever was timely. In Vixen it was the Communists and with Dolls it was definitely a knock off of the Manson murders. He always sort of went for whatever was current. If he had been doing a movie around the time of OJ he would have had that whole scenario too. You know the Arthur Lee song I think it’s Seven and Seven goes "The News today will be the movies of tomorrow" and it’s so true.

Russ Meyer on Filmaking:
"The way I make films, I never had the patience to wait for the men with moneybags in Hollywood to come around. I want to make films when the inspiration hits me, and I want to put my fantasies and ideas up there on the screen the way I want to."

Russ meyer on being accused of ruining John Lazar's career:
 Oh shit! Ruining? It's the greatest role he's ever had! He just called me last week and said, "you got any more work for me?" For some reason, I think he did one film, and nothing ever since..."

Beyond the Valley of the Dolls was recently released on DVD with a number of extra features including:
Commentary by screenwriter and film critic Roger Ebert
Commentary by cast members Dolly Read, Cynthia Myers, Harrison Page, John La Zar and Erica Gavin
Above, Beneath and Beyond the Valley: The Making of a Musical-Horror-Sex-Comedy" documentary
Look on up at the Bottom: The Music of Dolls" featurette
The Best of Beyond" featurette
Sex, Drugs, Music and Murder: Signs of the Times, Baby!" featurette
Casey and Roxanne: The Love Scene" featurette
Actor screen tests
6 photo galleries

Click here to buy one of the movie.

Click here to buy one of the soundtrack.

Sample a few songs from the movie:
Find It

Come with the Gentle People


Video Zeta One said...

Am I the only one who finds it incredibly strange that Roger Ebert wrote this movie? He seems so ... well, normal. You might as well have told me Alex Trebek wrote it.

Booksteve said...

This was one of the 1st films I ever rented...on BETA yet, circs 1981! Just saw it again...on TV of all places! Times change.

Anyway, parts were duller than I remembered but John Lazar walks away with that role, clearly having more fun than he should! Only other thing I ever saw him in was ATTACK OF THE 60 FT CENTERFOLD with Tommy Kirk and "Chip" from MY THREE SONS!

My wife hated it at first but then became hooked and I realized just how soap opera-ish it was! Even with the explicit violence of the ending, she ultimately liked it and started asking about other Russ Meyer films. I told her he was an acquired taste (and other than the bizarre Ebert films, I myself have never acquired it).

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