Valley of the Dolls Mark Robson

When a film’s all-revealing featurette begins with the narrator stating, "The book was called trash… the film was blasted by critics,” it’s not always a sign that the film is without redeeming qualities. You know how much fun Showgirls is. However, this isn’t the case for Valley of the Dolls. Based on Jacqueline Susann’s best-selling novel about the cutthroat world of showbiz, Robson’s film is all style and less than zero substance. Starring a shockingly promising cast that included Patty Duke, Sharon Tate, Barbara Parkins and Susan Hayward, Valley is a dreadfully tedious and unrelentingly bothersome film. Duke is faultless as the bratty, spoilt star, slowly crumbling away through a self-destructive pill popping habit. However, the constant headache her screeching voice ignites makes it a performance that is beyond unbearable. (She’s talented at being awful.) Many fans say they enjoy it for how unintentionally hilarious it is, but in order to realise this you need a tolerance made from iron to endure Duke’s outrageous melodrama, the obtuse script and the exasperating music. Had Judy Garland actually been healthy enough to star in the film (the featurette shows early screen tests of her struggling to keep her poise), perhaps Valley could have been gloriously camp and dug its way out of the cesspool it ended up in — alas, it was never meant to be. Naturally, the special features outshine the film, with an abundance of featurettes that examine the film’s overwhelming appeal, history and controversies. There’s the admittance of Susann’s ghastly disproval of the film adaptation, the power to expose its troubled stars and, best of all, some footage from the piss-poor 1981 and 1994 television remakes that make the original look Oscar-worthy. Plus: commentary, trivia, lobby cards. (Fox)