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Incredibly Strange Music Vol. I Excerpt: Lypsinka

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R/S: Tell us about Valley of the Dolls-

LYPSINKA: Does Valley of the Dolls need any kind of introduction? It’s really the great gay cult film, although I suppose it’s been superseded by The Rocky Horror Picture Show to the world at large. I’ve seen it so many times and it’s such a constant reference point that . . . I really am a Valley of Dolls scholar. I’ve read scripts that were not used; I’ve studied stills; and to me it’s beyond description—fascinating in its awfulness. Patty Duke plays Neely O’Hara, a young singer who becomes a malicious, vicious, wicked-tongued drug addict. The film is really just a mean version of How to Marry a Millionaire. 20th-Century Fox did lots of films about three girls, especially when Cinemascope came along, and Valley of the Dolls was a sexed-up, drugged-up version of that kind of thing: about three girls trying to make it in show business, and they each end up on pills for one reason or another. Some other films in this “genre” include Three Coins in the Fountain, The Best of Everything, and The Pleasure Seekers (basically, a remake of Three Coins in the Fountain).

BARBARA PARKINS became famous when she was in the TV version of Peyton Place, and Valley of the Dolls was really her greatest moment in feature films. I like her lines about that rush of loneliness that overcomes you just before the “pills” you’ve taken come on. The music in the background is eerie and disturbing. She was in The Mephisto Waltz (1971; a Satanic cult story) and a film with Faye Dunaway and Frank Langella, La Maison sous les Arbres/The Deadly Trap (1971).

Speaking of pills, DODY GOODMAN sings that great comedy number “Tranquilizers” on her album Dody Goodman Sings? She played Mary Hartman’s mother on Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman. Some people think that song perfectly summed up the frustrated housewife of the ’50s—that decade when tranquilizers were gulped down as freely as aspirin, and were just as freely available . . .

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