Valley of the Dolls (film)

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Valley of the Dolls
Valley Of the Dolls Poster.jpg
Original film poster
Directed by Mark Robson
Produced by David Weisbart
Screenplay by Helen Deutsch
Dorothy Kingsley
Harlan Ellison (uncredited)
Based on Valley of the Dolls 
by Jacqueline Susann
Starring Barbara Parkins
Patty Duke
Sharon Tate
Susan Hayward
Lee Grant
Music by André Previn & Dory Previn (songs)
John Williams
Cinematography William H. Daniels
Edited by Dorothy Spencer
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date(s)
  • December 15, 1967 (1967-12-15) (United States)
Running time 123 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $4,690,000[1]
Box office $44,432,255 (USA)[2]
$50,000,000 (Worldwide)[3]
$20,000,000 (US/ Canada rentals)[4]

Valley of the Dolls is a 1967 American drama film based on the 1966 novel of the same name by Jacqueline Susann. ("Dolls" was a slang term for downers, originally short for dolophine,[5] it quickly came to refer to any barbiturates such as Nembutal, used as sleep aids.) It was produced by David Weisbart and directed by Mark Robson.

The film stars Barbara Parkins, Patty Duke, Sharon Tate, Paul Burke, Martin Milner and Susan Hayward.

Upon release it was a commercial success, though panned by critics. The film has gained a cult following in subsequent years. [6] It was re-released in 1969 following the murder of Sharon Tate, and again proved commercially viable. Co-star Parkins, attending a July 1997 screening of the film at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco, told the sold-out crowd, "I know why you like it...because it's so bad!" Years later, Valley of the Dolls was included as one of the choices in the book The Fifty Worst Films of All Time.

The movie was remade in 1981 for television as Jacqueline Susann's Valley of the Dolls.

Plot[edit]

Three young women meet when they embark on their careers. Neely O'Hara (Duke) is a plucky kid with undeniable talent who sings in a Broadway show -- the legendary actress Helen Lawson (Hayward) is the star of the play -- while Jennifer North (Tate), a beautiful blonde with limited talent, is in the chorus. Anne Welles (Parkins) is a New England ingenue who recently arrived in New York City and works as a secretary for a theatrical agency that represents Lawson. Neely, Jennifer, and Anne become fast friends, sharing the bonds of ambition and the tendency to fall in love with the wrong men.

O'Hara is fired from the show because Lawson considers her a threat. Assisted by Lyon Burke, an attorney from Anne's theatrical agency, O'Hara makes appearances on telethons and other small but noticeable events. She becomes an overnight success and moves to Hollywood to pursue a lucrative film career. Once she's a star, though, Neely not only duplicates the egotistical behavior of Lawson, she also falls victim to the eponymous "dolls": prescription drugs, particularly the barbiturates Seconal and Nembutal and various stimulants. She betrays her husband, Mel Anderson (Milner), her career is shattered by erratic behavior and she is committed to a sanitarium.

Jennifer has followed Neely's path to Hollywood, where she marries nightclub singer Tony Polar (Tony Scotti) and becomes pregnant. When she learns that he has the hereditary condition Huntington's chorea, a fact his domineering half-sister and manager Miriam (Lee Grant) had been concealing, Jennifer has an abortion. As Tony's mental and physical health declines, Jennifer and Miriam check him into a sanitarium. Faced with Tony's mounting medical expenses, Jennifer finds herself working in French "art films" (soft-core pornography) to pay the bills.

Anne, having become a highly successful model, also falls under the allure of "dolls" to escape her doomed relationship with cad Lyon (Burke), who has an affair with her erstwhile friend, Neely.

Neely, committed to the same institution as Tony to recover from her addictions, meets him there and they sing a duet at one of the sanitarium's weekly parties. Neely is released and given a chance to resurrect her career, but the attraction of "dolls" and alcohol proves too strong and she spirals into a hellish decline.

Jennifer is diagnosed with breast cancer and needs a mastectomy. Jennifer phones her mother, seeking moral support. The mother is only concerned with the reaction from her friends at Jennifer's "art films." The mother also reminds Jennifer of her own financial needs. Jennifer succumbs to depression and commits suicide with an overdose of "dolls." With the money from her life insurance plus his own savings, Tony is able to spend the rest of his life being cared for in the sanitarium.

Anne abandons drugs and her unfaithful lover and returns to New England. Lyon ends his affair with Neely and asks Anne to marry him, but she decides to move on with her life and declines.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

The ending to the film was changed dramatically from the novel. In the film, Anne and Lyon never marry and do not have a child together. Rather, she leaves Lyon and returns to Lawrenceville, which is described as the one place she found real happiness. Lyon later visits her to propose but she refuses. These last-minute changes in the script, so out of keeping with Anne's established character (well known to millions of readers), prompted original screenwriter Harlan Ellison, who wanted to keep the original downbeat ending, to remove his name and credit from the film.

Judy Garland was originally cast as Helen Lawson, but was fired when she came to work drunk;[7] Susan Hayward replaced her in the role after production had already begun. On July 20, 2009, Patty Duke appeared at the Castro Theater in San Francisco with a benefit screening of the film, and said that director Mark Robson made Garland wait from 8am to 4pm before filming her scenes for the day, knowing that Garland would be upset and drunk by that time.

Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, a 1970 satirical pastiche, was filmed by Twentieth Century-Fox while the studio was being sued by Jacqueline Susann, according to Irving Mansfield's book Jackie and Me. Susann created the title for a Jean Holloway-scripted sequel that was rejected by the studio, which allowed Russ Meyer to film a radically different movie with the same title. The suit went to court after Susann's death in 1974; the estate won damages of $2 million against Fox.

Award nominations[edit]

Soundtrack[edit]

Valley of the Dolls (Soundtrack)
Studio album by Various artists
Released 1967 (1967)
Recorded 1967
Genre Pop
Label 20th Century Fox Records

The soundtrack was released in 1967. Dionne Warwick sang the title track; however, her version is not on the soundtrack. Warwick was signed to Scepter Records at the time and could not contractually appear. Therefore, a re-recorded version appears on the LP Dionne Warwick in Valley of the Dolls.

Margaret Whiting recorded "I'll Plant My Own Tree" for the film, while Eileen Wilson recorded it for the soundtrack album: the song is dubbed for Susan Hayward, while "It's Impossible" and "Give a Little More" are both dubbed by Gaille Heidemann for Patty Duke. Heidemann and Wilson are uncredited on the soundtrack label.

Track listing
  1. "Theme from Valley of the Dolls" – 4:04 (vocal by Dory Previn; narration by Barbara Parkins)
  2. "It's Impossible" – 2:12 (vocal by Gaille Heidemann for Patty Duke)
  3. "Ann at Lawrenceville" – 2:37 (instrumental)
  4. "Chance Meeting" – 2:31 (instrumental)
  5. "Neely's Career Montage" – 1:59 (instrumental)
  6. "Come Live with Me" – 2:01 (vocal by Tony Scotti)
  7. "I'll Plant My Own Tree" – 2:24 (vocal by Eileen Wilson for Susan Hayward; Margaret Whiting dubbed Susan Hayward in the film but she was under contract to a different label, so veteran voice double Eileen Wilson sings "I'll Plant My Own Tree" on the soundtrack album)
  8. "The Gillian Girl Commercial" – 2:04 (instrumental)
  9. "Jennifer's French Movie" – 2:26 (instrumental)
  10. "Give a Little More" – 2:02 (vocal by Gaille Heidemann for Patty Duke)
  11. "Jennifer's Recollection" – 2:52 (instrumental; contains a reprise of "Come Live with Me", vocal by Tony Scotti)
  12. "Theme from Valley of the Dolls Reprise" – 3:00 (vocal by Dory Previn)

The original version of "I'll Plant My Own Tree", as recorded by Judy Garland before she was fired from the film production, was finally released in 1976 on a compilation LP Cut! Out-takes from Hollywood's Greatest Musicals.

Jacqueline Susann wrote her own lyrics for a title song for the movie, which was rejected by the studio. It was recorded by The Arbors.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Solomon, Aubrey. Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History (The Scarecrow Filmmakers Series). Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 1989. ISBN 978-0-8108-4244-1. p255
  2. ^ "Valley of the Dolls, Box Office Information". The Numbers. Retrieved March 8, 2012. 
  3. ^ "Valley of the Dolls, Box Office Information". IMDb. Retrieved March 8, 2012. 
  4. ^ "Big Rental Films of 1968", Variety, 8 January 1969 p 15. Please note this figure is a rental accruing to distributors.
  5. ^ Paul M. Gahlinger, Illegal Drugs: A Complete Guide to Their History, Chemistry, Use and Abuse (Penguin, 2004), p. 226.
  6. ^ Cool cinema trash. "The Sins of Susann". Cool Cinema Trash. Retrieved 2 June 2013. 
  7. ^ "BBC News Report". 2006-12-20. Retrieved 2007-04-07. 

External links[edit]