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Beyond the Valley of the Dolls

USA 1970
produced by
Russ Meyer for 20th Century Fox
directed by Russ Meyer
starring Dolly Read, Cynthia Myers, Marcia McBroom, John LaZar, Michael Blodgett, David Gurian, Edy Williams, Erica Gavin, Phyllis Davis, Duncan McLeod, James Inglehart, Charles Napier, Henry Rowland, Princess Livingston, Angel Ray, Veronica Ericson, Lavelle Roby, Haji, Pam Grier & the Strawberry Alarm Clock
screenplay by Roger Ebert, based on a story by Russ Meyer & Roger Ebert, music by Stu Phillips, Lynn Carey, William Loose, Paul Marshall, Bob Stone

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Kelly (Dolly Read), Casey (Cynthia Myers) & Pat (Marcia McBroom) are in a Midwestern girlband who, along with their manager (& Kelly's lover) Harris (David Gurian) come to LA, where Kelly's aunt Susan (Phyllis Davis) not only provides her with the best contacts to start her music career but also promises her a third of her million Dollar inheritance (the script is not very peculiar about why, though).

Right after their arrival the girls & Harris are invited to a party held by homosexual in-guru Z-Man (John LaZar), where they are performing a song & are immediately discovered & a big success ... & Pat even finds a boyfriend there, law-student Emerson (Harrison Page). But of course, with the success comes the downfall, as Casey soon becomes an alcohol & drug addict, Pat cheats on Emerson with heavy weight champion Randy Black (James Inglehart), but they get caught & Randy almost runs over Emerson with his car, & innocent Kelly soon starts an affair with slimey gigolo Lance Rock (Michael Blodgett), who persuades her to get not only a third but half of aunt Susan's million Dollar inheritance (again, teh script stays remarkably clear of giving any further explanations about why).

Hereafter Kelly soon sees herself butting heads with auntie's treacherous lawyer Porter Hal (Duncan McLeod) ... & for some incredible reasons she thinks seducing him is the best way to defeat him ... even more incredibly, that works, too, & Kelly soon has won over her auntie & auntie's re-found old fiancé Baxter Wolfe (Charles Napier) over to her side 6 the money is never again mentioned.

Only Harris feels a little left out of all the goings-on & soon embarks on a meaningless affair with porn-star Ashlee (Edy Williams), & when she leaves him he rapes druggie Casey). That doesn't make him happy either, so at a tv gig he hides among the pliers at the studio's ceiling & at a convenient moment throws himself to his death right in front of the girls ... only that he doesn't die but survive paralized from the shock ... & from now on Kelly puts all her efforts into taking care of him.

Casey though has got pregnant from Harris & decides to have an abortion, helped by her lesbian friend Roxanne (Erica Gavin). Later the 2 of them are invited to a special party by Z-Man, along with Lance Rock, where Z-Man, after his homosexual advances are spurned by Lance, turns out to be a woman after all & decides to go around his house barebreasted to kill all his guests, including Lance & Roxanna. It is now that Casey realizes who her true friends are - Kelly & Harris, Pat & Emerson - & she calls them for help. When they come though & overcome Z-Man, it's too late for Casey, as she has already been shot ... but Harris, sparked by this new shock, can suddenly move his legs again ... it all ends with a triple wedding (Kelly & Harris, Pat & Emerson, auntie Susan & Baxter).

 

Cleverly, even before the opening credits roll, Russ eyer distances himself & this movie from 20th Century Fox's earlier, atrocious Valley of the Dolls, & in all fairness, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls is a better film ... which doesn't make it a good movie though.

Apart from having a really bad & inconsequent script that throws in & out plotelements rather at will, written by later famous film-critic Roger Ebert, it seems that all of the flair of a typical Russ Meyer movie is lost in this, his first production for a major studio. Meyer's charming bluntness & deliberate rough edges don't go well when paired with all the commodities a big-studio-picture has to offer: the looks, make-up & lighting of the girls is just too nice & middle of the road, the sets are too big, too posh & too new to have any real character, & everything just seems way too lavish, too Hollywood for Meyer's typical pulp-sagas. A disappointment.

Later blaxploitation goddess Pam Grier by the way had her first on-screen appearance in this one, it is however so limited tht UI failed to catch her.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD