Cast: Barbara Parkins, Patty Duke, Sharon Tate
Synopsis: A group of high-powered career women get addicted to pills. That’s it.
God I wish I was alive during the 1960s. If this movie is to be believed, it was a time of style and easy job opportunities. I mean, take Barbara Parkins’ character in this film: one day she decides to move to the big city so she walks into a talent agency and is all like “give me a job please” and they’re like “OK, how’s your shorthand and typing?” “Rusty.” “When can you start?” Now, if you’re a normal person, this should seem pretty fucking weird…and it is However, that’s what’s funny about this film: it’s like it takes place in an alternative drag queen universe where Broadway musicians sing about trees and everything is ridiculously over the top.
The film follows the lives of three women in show business. There’s the waspy brunette who becomes a secretary and then a model, then there’s the mousy-looking blonde one who’s a singer/movie star, and then there’s Sharon Tate who plays the sexy blonde one who is forced to become a soft-core porn star after her creepy boyfriend is hospitalised. It’s like the soft-core stuff you used to get on channel five when it showed things like Mirror Images 2 or Fanny Hill (snigger). Collectively, the women are essentially Lindsay Lohan, Naomi Campbell and Tara Reid in drag. One by one the women become addicted to prescription pills, or “dolls,” in order to cope with all their problems like living in a beautiful house and wiping their asses with $50 bills. It must be so hard being so rich.
I must admit, this film isn’t as fucking cray as Mommie Dearest but it certainly has its moments…like when Sharon Tate’s baby daddy rolls up in a wheelchair and starts singing about how some woman should come live with him. Another thing that’s kind of weird: Sharon Tate is in this movie. I never knew she was an actress…I just thought she was a famous murder victim. What’s more, she’s kind of bad in this film which makes me feel rather like a shitty person. She shouldn’t take it personally though because nobody in this movie is THAT good. However, she does have one of the best lines in the movie: “You know how bitchy fags can be.” Don’t I know it sister.
I think the thing that brings Valley of the Dolls down (aside from a laughably bad soundtrack) is the fact that it feels like an extended soap opera. Whereas Mommie Dearest is absolutely bat-shit insane with its more dramatic aspects (wire coat hanger child abuse for instance), the drama in Valley of the Dolls feels too predictable and hackneyed. Nothing particularly memorable or unusual happens to the characters. In fact, at times it felt like watching a gayer version of Eastenders or Coronation Street. When I watch a drag-queen film I want to see John Waters kind of crazy, not “Oh woe is me my live-in boyfriend is having an affair so I’m going to OD on pink pills.” Then again, this film was made in the late 60s so at the time I guess it was controversial.
- 60s style was awesome.
- “I’ve got to get up at five o’clock in the morning and sparkle Neely SPARKLE!” I want to sparkle.
- This movie makes me happy that I’m not addicted to drugs….*bong rip*
- The soundtrack is so shoddy. Seriously, this woman is singing about a tree in her garden and how it offers shade to everyone…then she throws some shade a bitch’s way.
If you watch Valley of the Dolls it’s important that you keep it in context. When it was released, it was probably a lot more scandalous and a lot less like a drag-queen soap opera. It’s still fun to watch but its dramatic impact has been lost. Once you see a woman beat her kid with a wire coat hanger or a drag queen eat some dog shit, you kind of become desensitized to women getting addicted to pills.