The nation's most startling and hotly discussed best-seller now on the screen with every shock and sensation intact
Film version of Jacqueline Susann's best-selling novel chronicling the rise and fall of three young ladies in show business.
2.35 : 1
Rated PG-13 for thematic elements involving substance abuse, some sexual content, partial nudity and language. (2006 re-rating; rated GP in 1971)
Drama, Music, Romance
Actress, Hollywood, Broadway, Show Business, New England
Showbiz Drama, Melodrama
Drug Addiction, Ladder to the Top, Actor's Life
Cynical, Biting, Angry, Harsh
High on Emotion
Has Detailed Data (New)
1, 2, 3
Count - Awards
Country Of Origin
Valley of the Dolls is a 1967 American drama film based on the 1966 novel of the same name by Jacqueline Susann. ("Dolls" was a slang term for downers, mood-altering drugs.) It was produced by David Weisbart and directed by Mark Robson.
Three young women meet when they embark on their careers. Neely O'Hara (Duke) is a plucky kid with undeniable talent who sings in a Broadway show, the legendary actress Helen Lawson (Hayward) is the star of the play, and Jennifer North (Tate), a beautiful blonde with limited talent, is in the chorus. Anne Welles (Parkins) is a New England ingenue who recently arrived in New York City and works for a theatrical agency that represents Helen Lawson. Neely, Jennifer, and Anne become fast friends, sharing the bonds of ambition and the tendency to fall in love with the wrong men.
O'Hara is fired from the show because Lawson considers her a threat. Assisted by Lyon Burke, an attorney from Anne's theatrical agency, she makes appearances on telethons and other small but noticeable events. She becomes an overnight success and moves to Hollywood to pursue a lucrative film career. Once she's a star, though, Neely not only duplicates the egotistical behavior of Lawson, she also falls victim to the eponymous "dolls": prescription drugs, particularly the barbiturates Seconal and Nembutal and various stimulants. She betrays her husband (Milner), her career is shattered by erratic behavior and she is committed to a sanitarium.
Jennifer has followed Neely's path to Hollywood, where she marries nightclub singer Tony Polar (Tony Scotti) and becomes pregnant. When she learns that he has the hereditary condition Huntington's chorea, a fact his domineering half-sister and manager Miriam (Lee Grant) had been concealing, Jennifer has an abortion. Faced with Tony's mounting medical expenses, Jennifer finds herself working in French "art films" (which was actually extremely tame soft-core pornography) to pay the bills.
Anne, having become a highly successful model, also falls under the allure of "dolls" to escape her doomed relationship with cad Lyon Burke (Burke), who has an affair with Neely.
Jennifer is diagnosed with breast cancer and needs a mastectomy. Jennifer phones her mother, seeking moral support. The mother is only concerned with the reaction from her friends at Jennifer's "art films." The mother also reminds Jennifer of her own financial needs. Faced with this, Jennifer succumbs to depression and commits suicide with an overdose of "dolls." With the money from her life insurance plus his own savings, Tony is able to spend the rest of his life in a sanitarium where he is well cared for. Neely, committed to the same institution to recover from her addictions, meets him there and they sing a duet at one of the sanitarium's weekly parties.
Neely is released from the sanitarium and given a chance to resurrect her career, but the attraction of "dolls" and alcohol proves too strong and she spirals into a hellish decline.
Anne abandons drugs and her unfaithful lover and returns to New England. Lyon Burke ends his affair with Neely and asks Anne to marry him, but she is moving on with her life.