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Film / Valley of the Dolls

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In 1967, 20th Century Fox released their movie adaptation of Jacqueline Susann's Valley of the Dolls directed by Mark Robson and starring Barbara Parkins, Patty Duke, Sharon Tate, Lee Grant, Paul Burke, Martin Milner, and Susan Hayward.

As with the book, it follows the lives of three women, Anne Welles (Parkins), Neely O'Hara (Duke) and Jennifer North (Tate), as they achieve fame and fortune through showbiz, as well as much duress and heartbreak which they cope with by taking a lot of pills.

As this was an adaptation by a big studio in the mid-60's, it was scrubbed clean from a lot of the more salacious elements found in the book.

The film's huge success at the box-office made the studio interested in putting out a continuation, resulting in a 1970 parody pseudo-sequel, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, written by Roger Ebert and directed by famed schlockmeister Russ Meyer.


  • Adaptational Alternate Ending: The movie's ending is a bit more optimistic than the book's, at least where Anne is concerned. In the book, she marries Lyon, only to fall out of love with him through his constant philandering and resort to the dolls for comfort. In the movie, she learns from her friends' mistakes, gives up on the unworthy Lyon and moves back to her home townnote  — planning to go on with her life towards a better future. Jennifer and Neely are still SOL as they share their book counterparts' fates, though.
  • Adaptational Angst Downgrade: Anne's feelings for her hometown of Lawrenceville are much warmer than in the book, where she absolutely hated it and despaired at the idea of moving back there.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job: Jennifer is the only one of the main trio who retains her hair color from the book. Anne is portrayed by (dark brown) brunette Barbara Parkins and Neely is played by auburn-haired Patty Duke. In the book, Anne is blonde and Neely has brown hair.
  • Adaptation Explanation Extrication: The film never clarifies how the three girls met and takes it for granted that they’re already friends from the start, but in the novel it’s explained that they're connected through the Broadway play Hit the Sky whose star Helen Lawson was represented by Henry Bellamy's office where Anne worked. Neely lived in Anne's same rooming house and had a small part in the play. Jennifer was also in the play and connected with Anne while the play was touring. The three later became roommates in New York.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy: Tony is much nicer of a guy in the film version than he was in the original book; he truly loved Jennifer even though their love is cut short due to him being diagnosed with Huntington's Chorea, which is ultimately a terminal disease versus his more childish and brutish manner in the book.
  • Adaptational Sexuality: Jennifer was bisexual in the book, which even had a detailed account of an affair she had with a female classmate in Europe. All of this is totally eliminated from the movie.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Jennifer is dead and Neely's downward spiral will likely kill her in the near future, but Anne renounces the pills and the showbiz life and goes back to her beloved hometown to start over.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Jennifer is blonde, Anne is a brunette and Neely is auburn-haired. An easy way to distinguish our three protagonists.
  • Compressed Adaptation: The novel takes place over twenty years - beginning in 1945 and finishing in 1965. The film clearly unfolds in a much shorter time frame. It's already the 60's when it starts.
  • Dump Them All: Despite carrying a torch for Lyon and being pursued by Kevin, Anne ultimately decides to move forward with her life alone. Already ending things with the basically decent Kevin in the hopes of getting back with the faithless Lyon, she decides to dump him as well, despite his claims that he loves her and wants to be with her. The movie ends with her walking down a snow-covered road, content with her decision.