Valley of the Dolls

Valley of the Dolls

Movie: Valley of the Dolls
Director: Mark Robson
Produced by: 20th Century Fox, Red Lion Films
Released By: 20th Century Fox
MPAA Rating: PG13

A cinematic take on a 1960s best-seller, Valley of the Dolls traces the ups and downs of three young women as fame, booze, pills, and men consume their lives. Well-bred, small-town Anne Welles arrives in New York eager for fame but settles for a job assisting theatrical attorney Henry Bellamy. The job leads her to cross paths with Helen Lawson, the grand dame of Broadway musicals, and Neely O’Hara, an up-and-coming performer whom Lawson unceremoniously boots from her latest show. Neely lands on her feet thanks to a series of nightclub gigs, and soon she and Anne befriend Jennifer North, a buxom starlet. As Neely becomes a huge star of stage and screen and Jennifer appears topless in a string of European “art” films, Anne becomes a wealthy cosmetics spokeswoman and suffers though a passionate but failed affair with aspiring writer Lyon Burke. As the pressures of fame and failed romance take their toll on all three women, they take refuge in food, sex, liquor, and pills — especially Neely, who becomes downright monstrous. Although the film’s characters are fictitious composites, Neely most closely resembles Judy Garland, Garland herself was originally cast as Lawson, but she was replaced after only a few days by Hayward. Although the film’s trailer played up the story’s titillating subject matter, the script for Valley of the Dolls actually toned down Jacqueline Susann’s novel. And despite the fact that Dionne Warwick can be heard singing ” The Valley of the Dolls” twice during the film, contractual snags kept her from releasing the soundtrack version, a different arrangement later became a number two pop hit in 1968.

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