Valley of the Dolls

Austin Chronicle

DIRECTED BY: Mark Robson

REVIEWED: 02-16-98

Tawdry, tarshy, and totally diviiiine! Valley of the Dolls is a hoot not to be missed

The definitive camp classic that raises more questions than it answers. Questions such as: Who did the pukey casting in this movie? Why are all the guys such weinies? Why are all those horrible musical numbers sooo long? Did the movie's hairdresser win an Oscar for his work? It grieves me to say that I cannot remember the first time I saw Valley of the Dolls - but it's been a part of my history for so long that we are virtually inseparable. It has provided me (and many other discriminating queens) with an arsenal of possible responses to life's situations. I can't count the number of times I've been forced to whirl around and confront someone by saying, "They drummed you out of Hollywood, so you come crawling back to Broadway. But Broadway doesn't go for booze and dope - now get out of my way, I've got a man waiting for me." To paraphrase a bumper sticker I once saw: Helen Lawson said it, I believe it, and that settles it. Helen also gave us the immortal words, "The only hit that comes out of a Helen Lawson show is Helen Lawson, and that's me, baby, remember?" You gotta love her. Or has this ever happened to you? You're on the phone with your whining leech of a mother - you've just agreed to pawn your mink coat to help support the witch. You find yourself saying, as Sharon Tate's Jennifer North did, "Mother, I know I don't have any talent, I know all I have is a body and I am doing my bust exercises. I'll wire you the money first thing in the morning." Took the words right out of your mouth, didn't it? Better yet is the infamous performance by Patty Duke as pill queen Neely O'Hara as she sings "It's Impossible" - just watch the beads she's wearing. Keep watching those beads - you won't be sorry. Dialogue aside, the casting is abysmal, but that's part of the entertainment. The clothes, makeup, and hair are Fab, especially in the "Gillian Girl" montage starring the dreadful Barbara Parkins as Anne Welles. The sequence is a virtual encyclopedia of looks for us all to try out in the privacy of our bedrooms - or in Anne's case, the privacy of your own TV show. Valley of the Dolls is a great movie in the very same way that Showgirls is a great movie. Rent it and howl.

--Stephen M. Moser

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