Cineaste, amongst the letters to the editor on page 3, comes one from Alan Mark Bishop of Vero Beach, Florida, that takes the magazine to task for not giving a great filmmaker like Terrence Malick his due, as well as for covering too much of the output of The Criterion Collection such as, in Mr. Bishop's own words, "odd bits of junk like Bitter Rice and Gilda."
Yes, I'm writing here of VALLEY OF THE DOLLS, the film manufactured in 1967 out of the uber-famous-in-its-day-and-said-to-be-enjoying-a-current-renaissance novel by Jacqueline Susann, and its 1970 follow-up (though in no way a "sequel"), BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS, directed by the then-king of soft-core, Russ Meyer, and written by none other than our famous (though not as famous back then) film critic Roger Ebert.
Trust Movies had long imagined he'd seen Valley of the Dolls, but as he began watching this new Blu-ray from Criterion, he realized with a shock that he never had. He'd only seen brief moments from it over the years that his spouse of nearly three decades, had called him in to view. Spousie does some really fab imitations of its various actors and songs, and I strongly suspect (but cannot absolutely prove) that the film's popularity comes from and now rests almost completely in the minds of hearts of our gay population, worldwide. The film has become a "classic" of gay camp. Unintentional camp, at that -- which is always the best kind.
Mark Robson (who did much better by Peyton Place), it tracks the fortunes of its three protagonists, Anne (the beautiful Barbara Parkins, above), Neely (an atrociously miscast Patty Duke, below), and Jennifer (played by a better actress than we imagined at the time, Sharon Tate, shown two photos below).
Susan Hayward (or probably her dubbed voice), below, sings about growing some tree, as a multi-colored 50s-modern chandelier rotates in a manner that appears to be obscuring at times the view of her from the very audience for whom she's supposed to be performing.
Judy Garland) requires at the very least the kind of charisma that this actress simply did not have. She (or her dubbed voice) is no great singer here, either, so her meteoric rise to fame appears simply ridiculous. Ah well, that's part of the fun, too.
Travilla) -- unlike those of another, better movie fashion designer Orry Kelly -- have not stood the test of time. Though they, too, add to the camp.
John Lazar (below and further below), who plays the character of music promoter/manager Z-Man Barzell, said to be based on the character and career of Phil Spector.
Dolly Read, as the central character/singer of the group, above, left, with Michael Blodgett, who takes his place as perhaps the sexiest, sleaziest bad boy of 70s cinema. Below, left, is voluptuous Edy Williams, aka Mrs. Russ Meyer (for a time, at least), along with David Gurian, who seems to have appeared in only a single movie -- this one -- as the sweet/sexy original love interest for Ms Read.