Valley of the Dolls: The Criterion Collection
Criterion Collection, Special Edition
Frequently bought together
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
Customers who bought this item also bought
Cutthroat careerism, wild sex, and fierce female protagonists are all on offer in this adaptation of Jacqueline Susann s sensational and wildly popular novel. Patty Duke (The Miracle Worker), Barbara Parkins (Peyton Place), and Sharon Tate star as three friends attempting to navigate the glamorous, pressurized world of big-time show business the valley is not a place but a narcotized state of mind, and the dolls are the pills that rouse them in the morning and knock them out at night. Blending old-fashioned gloss with Madison Avenue grooviness, this slick look by director Mark Robson (Peyton Place) at the early days of sexual liberation and an entertainment industry coming apart was a giant box-office hit and has become an unforgettably campy time capsule of the 1960s.
BLU-RAY SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES
- New 2K digital restoration, with 3.0 LCR DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack
- Audio commentary from 2006 featuring actor Barbara Parkins and journalist Ted Casablanca
- New interview with author Amy Fine Collins about author Jacqueline Susann and the film
- New video essay by critic Kim Morgan
- Footage of Marc Huestis Presents Sparkle Patty Sparkle!, a 2009 gala tribute to actor Patty Duke at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco
- A World Premiere Voyage and Jacqueline Susann and Valley of the Dolls, two promotional films from 1967
- Archival interviews
- Trailers and TV spots
- PLUS: An essay by film critic Glenn Kenny
Showing 1-5 of 299 reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
It has become quite the campy cult classic, beloved for it's lavish wardrobes, beautiful set designs, and wild performances.
But just as important of a contribution is the soundtrack.
Lead with the hauntingly beautiful title track sung by Dionne Warwick, it is a wonderful listening experience, even if you haven't seen the film.
This re-release pressing sounds amazing.
It's nice to hear it sound so crisp, as the previous copy I heard was an original and it sounded pretty crackly and rough.
Not much else to say about it, if you love Valley of the Dolls and don't own the soundtrack, this new pressing is definitely worth the pickup.
An exact copy of the original release, with the same content on the front and back of the jacket.
I'm very happy with this purchase.
And a rousing "Yes!" to all the straight boys: This movie IS your Kryptonite and WILL turn you gay! So, if you don't want to bleach your hair and get a job as a female impersonator down at the Wagon Wheel Bar, RUN from this flick!
For anyone unfamiliar with the story (many of the plot machinations of the novel have, thankfully, been dispensed with), it’s the story of three ambitious young women who navigate their way to the top of “Mt. Everest”, an eye-rolling metaphor for the pinnacle of Hollywood success. Spectacularly beautiful but supremely untalented showgirl Jennifer North, supremely talented but spectacularly difficult singer/actress Neely O’Hara, and narrator Anne Wells, an (initially) uptight, virtuous bore, utilize their various attributes to rise to the top of their fields, and all have their moments with the titular dolls (another eye-rolling Susann metaphor for the uppers and downers of the moment, but necessary for the catchy title).
Except for Sharon Tate’s sensitive turn as beautiful, doomed Jennifer North, everyone in the cast embarrasses themselves numerous times throughout the movie. Which actually works in an oddly endearing way, turning what could have been a dull, by-the-(dirty) book melodrama into a delicious broth of shrieking, beautiful people and over-the-top theatrics. Patty Duke, as Neely O’Hara, is especially cringe-worthy; it’s such a wildly charismatic bad performance that you can’t take your eyes off her. Whether flushing Susan Hayward’s wig down the toilet or screaming SPARKLE, NEELY, SPARKLE in a drunken stupor in an alley, Patty Duke is simply extraordinary. And there’s so much more! If this doesn’t banish images of “The Patty Duke Show” and “The Miracle Worker” from your mind then nothing will. Barbara Parkins’ Anne Wells is lovely to look at but, after initially coming across as a career-oriented, New England goody-two-shoes, she sheds her inhibitions (as well as her duds) and beds the younger of her bosses (a sleepwalking Paul Burke) with head-spinning rapidity. We all know that can’t end well since it happens early on in the movie, but it gives Parkins a chance to mope and pout a lot, when not dispensing advice to the others (like any good narrator would do). In due time, she also gets to take pills, pills and more pills and roll around in the Pacific surf, swallowing oceanfuls of water until she finally has her “as God is my witness” moment and staggers up on the beach in Malibu, declaring herself drug-free from that moment on. No wasting time on 12-step programs for this gal.
In the film “My Best Friend’s Wedding”, actor Rupert Everett has a line that goes, “The misery, the exquisite tragedy. The Susan Hayward of it all.” Something like that. A (mostly) great actress, Hayward had been nominated for 5 Oscars by the time “Valley of the Dolls” began filming, winning one for the harrowing 1959 film, “I Want to Live” so Everett’s line was something of a tribute to her often overwrought film roles. However, watching her performance here as tough, cantankerous show biz legend, Helen Lawson, one can be forgiven for losing sight of those Oscar nominations. In “Valley of the Dolls” Hayward is almost as spirited and hammy as Patty Duke; it’s like Carol Burnett, in full Eunice mode, has taken possession of Hayward, bringing along all her high dudgeon and sturm und drang to the party. The scene where she and Patty Duke finally go head-to-head, resulting in the riotous wig-in-the-toilet moment, is classic. Of course, for all its silliness, the camp, the lunacy, “Valley of the Dolls” achieves a certain poignancy whenever Sharon Tate is onscreen, not just because of the relative normalcy (and tragic fate) of her character (compared to the rest of the cast) but because of the terrible tragedy that befell the actress less than two years after the film’s release. It’s hard to watch “Valley” without thinking of the beautiful young life cut short. The fine actress, Lee Grant, is also (inexplicably) on hand, giving a sternly serious performance as if she just wandered over from the Actor’s Studio. It seems out of place in this film, but then it’s a thankless role she’s saddled with.
The men in “Valley” are, more or less, on hand to move the action along without really emoting much. Tony Scotti (as Jennifer’s husband) has a couple of good moments as a Tony Bennet-style singer before succumbing to a deteriorating disease and being whisked off to a nursing home, rallying briefly from his wheelchair to join hospitalized Neely (drying out from alcohol and drugs) in a song before, presumably, sliding back into catatonia. It's meant to be poignant but my God, it's so ludicrous it's laughable.
Director Robson and screenwriters, Helen Deutsch, Dorothy Kingsley and an uncredited Harlan Ellison (adapting Susann’s novel) bear equal responsibility for all that is good, bad and ugly in “Valley of the Dolls”. For all its sex, attempts at titillation, drug abuse and fashion statements, the movie feels like a throwback to a different era in Hollywood. And the scenes of Patty Duke performing “It’s Impossible”, and Hayward lip-synching “I’ll Plant My Own Tree” must have been “choreographed” by John Wayne, after a particularly grueling cattle drive. These ladies swagger and stagger and, at times, seem barely able to stand up; as with the embarrassing performances, this unholy sight only makes the film all the more fun to watch.
In the end, the film really defies criticism since it’s become a cultural touchstone in American cinema (although not necessarily in a good way), as well as a cult film with legions of fans.
The movie aside, the extras included by Criterion are, as usual, riveting, including an edition of Hollywood Backstories, chronicling the making of the film, various interviews and a great booklet with an essay by New York Times film critic, Glenn Kenny. The digital restoration is crisp and clear, but I wouldn’t expect anything less from the folks at Criterion.