A satirized Valley of the Dolls. The story follows an all-girl rock-and-roll trio and their manager, who head to Los Angeles. There, they succumb to fame, sex, drugs, and murder.
Director Russ Meyer threads a fine tonal seam between detached camp and earnest embarrassment. The result plays as a cautionary fable that proves ridiculous yet compelling. John Lazar’s performance as a charismatic, Shakespear-quoting music mogul stands out.
The same measured tone applies to the violence. It’s bloody and gruesome, yet never mean-spirited or off-putting.
Most of all, I appreciated the film’s willingness to eviscerate both sides of the generation gap. A critical reveal proves timely, demonstrating how the “enlightened” flower children weren’t ready to accept all types of people.
This film also marks Pam Grier’s first credited feature. It’s a blink-and-you-miss-it appearance and, I admit, I missed it. But I’m eager to re-watch this with commentary by screenwriter Roger Ebert.
Commentary watch. Screenwriter Roger Ebert proves entertaining and enlightening.
My favorite anecdote shed light on how director Russ Meyer achieved the film’s unusual tone. According to Ebert, Meyer convinced the performers they were playing a straight drama. When some expressed concern about the film’s comical nature, Meyer assuaged them with earnest discussions about their character’s motivations in each scene. I love it.
And Ebert can’t find Pam Grier either, leading me to believe she’s not present in the final cut.