June 19, 1970 [Beyond the Valley of the Dolls]

Russ Meyer keeps abreast of things, topping the mound and swelling with pride every time he finds a young woman who stands out, and so on and so on. Meyer asks for it, and somehow so do I. He makes easy reads for eternal adolescents, churning out the lesser titles of the cinematic comic book stand--James Bond on the top shelf, bouncing boobs below.

But then he goes Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, smacking Jacqueline Susann's missed-mash novel on the bottom as he scoots by, slapping together a movie freaked out by itself, amazed it's still standing--even when it falls flat on its own full behind, Edy Williams and her big broad face filling the screen like a happy shark, the rest of them swingin' and singin' in some invented L.A.--just like the real one, its own novelization, the stolen title the last thing packed into a haphazard suitcase for the ride west, out to the ocean and hermaphroditic high jinks.

It's not so much a movie as a can of novelty peanuts with a springing snake inside, just like half its characters--the other half topless and happy to see you--when they're not running in terror from their own fey psychedelia. I stopped counting after ten movies-in-one, certain Meyer and his cohorts were going to run out of film before they ran out of steam--and then the Epilogue, with a narrator straight out of a Quinn Martin production (I half-expected David Janssen to breeze in, searching and running), who rattles off the lessons learned as though he's making them up as he goes along, distracted by the memory of parabolic bosoms and random demises.

Every once in a while I figure I've seen the end of cinema. This isn't it--actually, it does a better job of ending the '60s, goosing those of us foolish enough to stick around to see how it turned out.


  1. What a film, what a film... a Frankenstory assembled during a drug-induced brainstorming session. The road montage, with its celebratory singing, occurring just a few minutes into the film? One of the greatest tributes ever edited to the fluffy, adolescent euphoria of the fertile West Coast.

  2. My daughter just finished her 1st year at art school in LA--and boy-howdy you're right: "fluffy, adolescent euphoria," indeed! (I'm also re-reading Chandler, so I'm also getting the sticky end of that sunny lollipop.)


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