At long last, Russ Meyers has entered the canon. His 1970 camp classic “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls,” along with the 1967 schlock-fest that inspired it, will be released in September by The Criterion Collection.
The Criterion Collection has become known as the ultimate haven for cinephiles. Since 1984, it has taken the most important works in film history and made them more accessible than ever before. It should be noted that these are “important” works, not the “best,” because one of the upcoming additions to the series is one of the most famous bad movies of all time.
Mark Robson’s 1970 drama “Valley of the Dolls” quickly gained cult status, following three women (Barbara Parkins, Sharon Tate and Patty Duke) through their sex-and-drug-riddled lives and their attempts to make it big on Broadway.
What ensues is a tour de force of terrible acting, nonsensical plot, and one scene that Roger Ebert said should “be preserved in permanent form so future historians can see that Hollywood was not only capable of vulgarity, but was also capable of the most offensive and appalling vulgarity ever thrown up by any civilization. I can’t believe that scene. I really can’t.”
What was even more unbelievable was that three years later, Ebert would help Meyer pen a second “Valley of the Dolls” film to satirize the first. The X-rated “Beyond The Valley of the Dolls” also achieved a cult status similar to the film that inspired it, and it is twice as ludicrous.
In the words of Ebert himself, the last 20 minutes features “a quadruple murder, a narrative summary, a triple wedding, and an epilogue.”
There has been renewed interest in the film following Ebert’s death in 2013 and after it was featured prominently in the documentary about Ebert’s life, “Life Itself.” Now film buffs looking for a train wreck can immerse themselves in this insane double feature.
For those looking for something with less dubious quality, the Criterion Collection’s September release list also includes Krzysztof Kieślowski’s “Decalogue” and the Coen Brothers’ directorial debut, “Blood Simple.”
Check out the trailer for “Valley of the Dolls” above.