"You've got to climb Mount Everest to reach the Valley of the Dolls" is the statement made as the film begins and for those of you reading this who haven't had the pleasure to see the film or read the book, "dolls" are what the characters in the film call drugs. And there are a lot of "dolls" in this film, as it documents the swinging 1960's and the rise, and fall, of three career girls, showing their successes but also their self destruction as they climb up but eventually fall down their own personal Mount Everest's.
|Parkins, Tate and Duke|
Though today the film is looked at as one of the "it's so bad its good" types, it was actually a hit at the 1967 box office, making over $40 million dollars. John Williams' Oscar nomimation for Best Score Adaptation was the only Oscar nod the film received.
There have been various stage productions of the story, usually using the film script as the basis. I actually had the pleasure of attending two of the most famous ones. In the late 90's, the LA based Theater-A-Go-Go bought their production of the film script to Off Broadway. It was a complete tongue in cheap humorous production with Helen Lawson played by the drag queen Jackie Beat (who was quite good in the part) and Neely played by Kate Flannery who now stars as Meredith on the tv show The Office. The other famous presentation of the story was the 2010 Actor's Fund benefit concert that starred Broadway stars Martha Plimpton, Charles Busch, Heidi Blickenstaff and Nancy Anderson as Anne, Helen, Neely and Jennifer. Clips below show highlights from both of those theatrical endeavors.
Amazon link for the dvd - Valley of the Dolls (Special Edition)
Amazon link for the paperback of the novel - Valley of the Dolls
Trailer for the movie -
The infamous cat fight between Neely and Helen -
Dionne Warwick music video for the "Theme to Valley of the Dolls" -
"Come Live With Me" performed by Tony Scotti -
Judy Garland's version of "I'll Plant My Own Tree" dubbed over the Margaret Whiting track that Susan Hayward lip syncs to in the film.
Lena Horne sings "I'll Plant My Own Tree" -
Scene where Hayward gets Duke's character fired -
Patty Duke actually released an album called "Patty Duke sings Songs from Valley of the Dolls and other Selections" - here is her recording of "It's Impossible" synced up over the film track - it's kinda obvious why they chose not to use her singing voice for the film but to have her dubbed by Gail Heideman
Bonus feature from the DVD that talks about the stage version - I saw it in New York twice- it was great- the lead who played Neely now co-stars on the tv show The Office!
Compilation video of clips from the 2010 Actors Fund benefit reading of the film script- I was there! -