Borderlands (Zev Berman, 2007): 6.5/10

The Magic Flute (Ingmar Bergman, 1975): 7/10

La Guerre Est Finie (Alain Resnais, 1966): 7/10

Speed Racer (The Wachowski Brothers, 2008): 8/10

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Location: milwaukee, wi

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Valley of the Dolls (Mark Robson, 1967)

It's almost useless to write about Valley of the Dolls; at this point in movie history, it's almost impossible to enjoy it as anything but a campy cult classic. Unlike the fantastic Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, however, this isn't bad enough to go around to goodness; instead, it's just plain bad in a lot of spots, and there aren't nearly as many "dolls" as promised. But some amazing, over the top performances make this definitely worth a watch, especially a nonsober one.

The story revolves around three women, Anne, who is infuriatingly proper for most of the film, Jennifer, a beautiful woman who has nothing to offer but her body, and Neely, who is a hopeless drunk and pill-popper. All three women experience varied levels of success, and varied levels of self-destruction. Anne does nothing to herself, more or less, and so is the most boring character. Jennifer, played by Sharon Tate, goes to France to do "art films," which, of course, is code for softcore porn. Neely is the most interesting of the three, as after she becomes a big singing sensation, she becomes an alcoholic and addicted to sleeping pills, speed pills, and any other pills she can get her hands on. She "cleans up," but not for long, and by the end of the movie is again a raving, boozy lunatic. Her screaming breakdown in the alley behind a theater is the best scene in the movie, and Patty Duke really gest props for going so over the top with her portrayal of Neely - without her, this would not be nearly as watchable. Another amazing performance comes from Susan Hayward, who plays Helen Lawson, an aging diva who is threatened by Neely's talent early in her career. But by the end of the movie, it's obviously the grande dame Helen who triumphs, as she understands what it means to be a diva; you can be bitchy, but within limits, and all things in moderation.

This is a thoroughly enjoyable film, but the over the top situations and performances are often drowned out by the terribly screenplay and boring performances from some of the actors. I wish I had a few beers in me when I had watched it, but fun nonetheless.


RIYL: Russ Meyer, late Bette Davis

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