As Roger Ebert recovers from emergency surgery, a few tributes to his debut screenwriting gig back in 1970, the ineffable (in its own special way) "Beyond the Valley of the Dolls," along with the film that preceded and inspired it. At the Boston Globe, Howard Karren notes that in the recently re-released "Valley of the Dolls"/"Beyond the Valley of the Dolls" set, "Valley" is "little-girl pink," while "Beyond" is "little-boy blue." Karren writes that "Much as the Jacqueline Susann best seller that the original is based on is all about women and their dreams and identities, [Russ] Meyer‘s follow-up…is also about women, albeit large-breasted women, as well as the men who desire them and who want to be them," but still assiduously attempts to use the colors as signifiers for the films’ differing fans, pointing out the first film’s gay following and the second film’s, er, less easily defined appeal.
Better than the article itself is Karren’s sidebar, in which he runs down notable America crossovers between the world of critics and world of screenwriters.
There are so many wacky moments to love, like the lingering seconds when a necklace around Patty Duke‘s neck assumes a bra shape over what her character would call "boobies" midway through one musical number. There is Duke’s rollicking performance, which careens from cross-eyed lousy to directly â€” not just campily â€” wonderful and back again with a fervor matched only by Elizabeth Berkley in "Showgirls." There are the tossed-off lines â€” so true â€” about how bitchy fags can be, and how booze helps dolls work faster. And finally there is [Susan] Hayward, marching forward through this stinkin’ show, rolling with the below-the-belt punches, with or without a wig, but always with dignity.
Has Hollywood ever been so satirically skewered? Has a single film ever crammed in so many genres â€” musical, comedy, melodrama, youth-gone-wild, slasher? Has the Bentley vs. Rolls sex question ever been so definitively answered?
No. No, certainly not.