This was $4.00. Again, this was a record that I figured I would enjoy writing a post for. This was back when I had all day to enjoy writing posts.
Valley of the Dolls is the 1967 adaptation of Jacqueline Susann’s trashy 1966 novel. The book, which was a huge hit when it came out, tells the behind the scene “fictionalized” story of three women trying to make it in the world of entertainment. Most of it was based on true characters and events from Susann’s own attempt in show bidness. The movie stars Barbara Perkins, Patty Duke, and Sharon Tate as the three main characters with a terrific performance by Susan Hayward as an aging actress threatened by Duke’s character, Neely O’Hara.
IMDB page for Valley of the Dolls
It is the struggles of Neely, which for me make the best parts of the story. She goes from a struggling actress to a superstar who struggles with her demons; pills and booze. When she hits rock bottom, she hits rock bottom and it is fun to watch, mainly because it is such a contrast from her clean cut TV image, losing control over a hot dog. Her rise to the top, downfall, climb back to the top, and relapse make me watch this every time it comes on.
Neely’s main foil, Helen Lawson, was originally to be played by Judy Garland. However, as Garland herself had a serious booze and pill problem, she got herself fired from the set. It has been said that the director, Mark Robson, purposely delayed shooting during the day to ensure Garland was drunk by the time she was needed on set. Neely’s own substance problems were based on that of Garland’s (Lawson’s character was based, coincidentally of Ethel Merman). Either way, Lawson was performed by Hayward who did not get along with Duke from what the Net says and neither one liked the director.
The movie was successful; with fans but not so much with critics. Among other things, critics and some fans had a hard time handling little goody two shoes, Patty Duke playing such a fiend. Censorship at the time led to some of the more juicer aspects of the book being omitted. The need for ticket sales led to a happier ending. The author hated the movie but it sold well. Fans liked it and today, its camp value alone keeps it in circulation.
The soundtrack is a mixed bag. The theme song was sung by Dionne Warwick in the film but for contractual reasons, her version does not appear on the album. I think this is a shame as her version is pretty good. The songs sung by Duke and Hayward in the movie were really voice overs which I think sucks. Duke was also upset as she had been working on her singing prior to filming.
The rest of the songs are ok. The songs on this album, which are originals, where written by Dory and Andre Previn. John Williams conducted the score and received his first of many Oscar nominations for it. On this album, he is credited as Johnny Williams. I find that odd to read.
For a sample, I went with “Come Live With Me” sung by Tony Scott who plays’ Tate’s doomed night club singer/husband in the movie. I believe the author wanted Elvis for the role. In real life, Scott, who is still alive, is married to French singer Sylvie Vartan. Scott had done some minor acting and singing, but this is the role is he most famous for.
Kind of meh on the soundtrack. I love this film, however.