Ebert's Shame


This weekend I watched Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, and I don't understand how Roger Ebert retained any shred of credibility after his involvement in this fiasco. In his comments about the film on its tenth anniversary, Ebert talks about how the film was a satire and succeeded on many levels. And I can only wonder if, before viewing the film, he swaps out the lenses in his glasses for ones colored a delightfully rosy shade. Perhaps it's too much a product of the time and place-- the quick-cut editing style, for example, is quintessential sixties. Having no experience with Hollywood in the sixties, absolutely nothing else about this film rings true. It plays more as parody than satire, with outrageous dialogue no human could possibly utter with a straight face and absurd characters with no discernable motivations. The Z-Man character, for all he was modeled after a real person Ebert had never met, is a cartoon who rattles off florid dialogue Aaron Sorkin wouldn't inflict on his worst day. The nth-hour plot twist about his sexuality-- written on the spur of the moment-- makes earlier scenes retrospectively incomprehensible. A complete, irredeemable mess.

Prior to that film we saw The Dark Side of the Rainbow-- the first 45-minutes or so of The Wizard of Oz playing in sync with Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon album. Some synchronicities really were astounding-- the "ca-ching" as Dorothy opens the door to reveal Munchkinland; "Black" on the appearance of the Wicked Witch; "The lunatic is on the grass" as Scarecrow starts to dance; the heartbeat at the end of the album as Dorothy listens to Tin Man's chest. Freaky keen.


Just curious: Have you seen "The Valley of the Dolls"?

No, I haven't. Beyond the Valley of the Dolls is explicitly not a sequel, however-- it tells you that right up front.

The set I got from England contains both Valley of the Dolls and Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. I haven't made it all the way through the former yet. It's definitely not as funny, though seemingly just as bad.

You forgot to mention a couple of my favorite synch's - "who knows which is which and who is who" when Glenda is explaining to Dorothy the difference between the two wicked witches, and "balanced on the biggest wave, race toward an early grave" as Dorothy is balancing on the fence and falls into the pig pen just as the music changes after the lyric. I have seen this thing many times now, and I still get chills every time.

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