Knight at the Movies ARCHIVES
Two acknowledged camp masterpieces get the royal treatment from Fox Home Entertainment
Gay pride is here! For evidence of this, look no further than the slew of special edition camp classic DVD releases that have been
arriving since the end of May to celebrate our end of June unofficial national holiday. It’s not just the home viewing market that’s
gay friendly, either. Two of the summer’s biggest releases – Superman Returns and The Devil Wears Prada – arrive in theatres next
week. Although neither of these are overtly gay, what could be more gay friendly than a hunky, misunderstood super hero in blue
tights and a red cape and a fashion version of Mommie Dearest with Meryl Streep in the Joan Crawford role and Anne Hathaway as
Christina? Those questions will be loudly answered when I review the films in next week’s column. For now, onto those long awaited
camp DVD releases – there’s enough here to hold you at least until the end of Pride weekend.
The wait is over and it has been worth it. The Mt. Everest of all camp movies, 1967’s Valley of the Dolls and its bastard child
sequel in title only, 1970’s Beyond the Valley of the Dolls are finally here. Fox Home Entertainment has done its research and
these 2-disc special editions are aimed squarely at Our People. What self-respecting gay man doesn’t know the Broadway-Hollywood
story of Anne, Jennifer and Neely, the three young hopefuls seeking fame, “mass love,” sex, and handfuls of pep pills a/k/a dolls?
This overripe concoction has been the basis for many a gay bars theme night for decades. The first disc includes a commentary by
star Barbara Parkins (see my interview with her in this issue) and E! gossip columnist Ted Casablanca (who took his pen name from
the gay costume designer in the movie). The second disc is jam packed with pretty much every familiar gay media figure Fox could
round up – the Advocate’s Alonso Duralde, Michael “La Dolce” Musto, etc. – opining like mad with lots of dish during the several new
making of featurettes. There are also several vintage extras, including Sharon Tate’s screen test, a hilarious piece on the “doll” that
wrote the “Dolls” – Jacqueline Susann, as well as a detailed “Backstory” episode that includes glimpses of Judy Garland’s wardrobe
tests. The entire audio soundtrack, a nifty bonus, is also included. Missing, sadly, are the “What’s My Line?” episode with Garland
and Susann and Garland’s audio track of “I’ll Plant My Own Tree.” Patty Duke is also missing from the commentary and new
featurettes but I’m guessing that that’s due to her recovery from open heart surgery and unavailability.
“Boobies! Boobies! Boobies!” Neely O’Hara/Patty Duke complains at one point during one of her drunken ramblings in the movie.
She might have been talking about the Russ Meyer-Roger Ebert rip off sequel, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. The movie again
follows three young ladies – typical Russ Meyer vixens with giant breasts – who go for glory via their rock band The Carrie Nations.
In their quest they’re aided by super cool, “It’s my freak out!” bisexual entrepreneuer Ronnie “Z-Man” Barzell. Screenwriter Ebert
has dubbed his baby the “first rock-horror-exploitation musical” and that’s a pretty apt description of this 60s skin flick that includes
lots of hot lesbian sex, plenty of gay references (and a fetching Michael Blodgett as bikini clad hustler Lance Rocke) and lots and
lots of drugs and gore thanks to the Manson murder style finale. Several surviving cast members participate in the new making of
documentaries and I was happy that one of them pays special attention to the still hot rock songs (“Come with the Gentle People,”
“Sweet Talkin’ Candy Man”) and the score by Stu Phillips. Surprisingly, though, nothing is mentioned of the sublime pop sugar title
song sung by the Sandpipers. Naturally, these two camp titans make up the greatest double feature imaginable.
Click HERE for fabu-lush reviews of the new Bette Davis boxed set, the Mommie Dearest Royalty Edition and the new Marilyn Monroe
June is Gay Pride month and in honor of that, Windy City Times and Knight at the Movies is presenting The First Annual GLBT Pride
Movie Survey. This is your chance, dear reader, to weigh in with your thoughts on the Best, the Worst, the Campiest, and the Sexiest
GLBT movies (and more) of all time. Click HERE to fill take part in the survey and enter the drawing for a pretty nifty prize!
Valley of the Dolls-Beyond the Valley of the Dolls Special Edition DVDs
6-21-06 Knight at the Movies/Windy City Times Column
By Richard Knight, Jr.