Valley of the Dolls (Mark Robson, 1967, USA)

Based on the best-selling novel by Jacqueline Susann, Valley of the Dolls was one of the highest-grossing films of 1967. With a cast led by actresses Barbara Parkins, Patty Duke, and Sharon Tate (in one of her last film roles), Dolls was an immense financial success upon its release, becoming the 5th highest grossing movie of the year. 1967 was the year Hollywood began to give way to the cultural trends that were sweeping America, and it marked the dawn of films that could deal with mature themes. While Dolls by no means deals with such themes subtly, its success is not surprising - though tame by today's standards, the film dealt with issues that simply had never appeared on American screens before.

Critics were less kind to the film, yet ironically the film has held up. While it perhaps is not as enduring as a cult classic as Russ Meyer's somewhat unofficial Roger Ebert-penned follow-up Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, the original Valley of the Dolls is a cornerstone of camp culture. From its melodramatic premise of innocent women being swallowed whole by Hollywood and its "dolls" (barbiturates), the film is a seemingly endless parade of quotable lines. It is hard to believe some of the film's dialogue was written in earnest, which is why it has become such a cult classic. And despite detractors, the film has a stylistic and visual panache that makes it enjoyable - the film features several iconic, 60s-style montages. Yes, the film is dated, but as an archive of the moral climate of its time and also the visual palette of the late 1960s, Valley of the Dolls is worth visiting. It is also worth watching for Sharon Tate, as it was one of her last roles before her tragic end. 



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