Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970)

Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970), produced and directed by Russ Meyer.

Screenplay by Roger Ebert. I knew it by reputation but had never seen it before.

Unreviewable, but hard to stop watching. I'd class it with other 60s satirical freakout films like:

This is vastly more ambitious than those, a pioneering soft porn studio film starring the most gorgeous women, several former Playboy centerfolds. Featuring their boobs. Everyone says Russ Meyer was some sort of mad genius obsessed with big boobs. The women didn't seem to mind; he made them feel like princesses.

It started as a sequel to Valley of the Dolls and Jacqueline Susan submitted two screenplays that Fox didn't like. So they let in two outsiders and the inmates ran the asylum just this once; studio budget and resources without interference.

Meyer and Ebert quickly decided to do a satire, but that obviously got away from them. This isn't a send up of Hollywood or rock music or fashion. It is more like a exploitation film self-mocking exploitation films and every bit of bad fiction and screenwriting they could find.

As in all Meyer productions the woman dominate. It is ahead of its time in featuring both straight and gay sex scenes and for having solid roles for black actors.

Of the huge cast, mobs of people in practically non-stop sex parties, I recognized only two actors: Charles Napier and Don White.

Practically a musical. Strawberry Alarm Clock appears as themselves.

The fun and games turn into a blood bath in the final moments. Note an oddly prophetic aspect: the character of Ronnie 'Z-Man' Barzell was inspired by Phil Spectre and he murdered actress Lana Clarkson at his house 33 years later. She was shot in the mouth just as happens in the movie.

Ebert stresses that neither he nor Meyer knew Spectre and that all of their satire just came out of their own imaginations, not from any direct experience with their targets.

Criterion Blu-ray with two commentary tracks and many extras. Lovely image.

Roger Ebert does the first commentary. He is lavish in his praise of Russ Meyer, a 30-year friend. Although obsessed with boobs, he was more interested in comedy and satire than actual eroticism. He did not do hardcore because he didn't want to partner with the Mob. (That might be a joke). He was respectful toward his people: none of that casting-couch business. He ran his sets like a military operation, with no screwing around. In every sense of the word.

Several cast members gather for the second commentary. They're having a great time but it is chaotic and low-density for the rest of us.

For the thumbnails I just picked 7 random non-nude images. There is no way to give an adequate overview of something like this.