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I'm kind of at a loss as to why Russ Meyer's 1970 film Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (BVD) has made it into Empire's top 500 films of all time, sitting proudly just above such films as Dirty Harry and Ghostbusters. I really am at a loss. The nudie director's film is somewhat indicative of a transition between the 60s and 70s, but is full of too many weird occurrences to be entertaining enough for this.
The film's plot is around a girl band, more psychedelic and cool than today's girl bands and certainly more openly rock and roll behind the scenes. The three band members have their whole careers ahead of them, but between their selfish manager and their own greed, they manage to go on a journey that isn't necessarily conducive to success. Meyer's viewpoint is from one as a voyeur, and he makes sure that the three leading ladies are dressed provocatively and that the scenes reflect this, trying to give an impression of free love while also delivering a tale of romance and heartbreak at times.
This juxtaposition doesn't really sit well with me, I have to say. The cast were famously told to play it straight, although they had questions over whether the roles were supposed to be comic or not. As a result, it's very tongue in cheek and appears to be a film that is happy to poke fun at itself. The acting is average and Meyer knows this will be how it appears, yet he allows it all to transpire to give it a potential for cult status. I suppose he has achieved his goal with this, and it seems this is how the film is regarded.
Some of the music is catchy, whether it be the music of the band or the general music played throughout the film. A movie centering on a band at the turn of the 70s is going to be pumped full of music, and this one certainly. However, it's also pumped full of lurid scenes, and while Meyer was never given enough time by Fox to include as much nudity and sex as he wanted, there was still enough on show and enough suggestion that it was given an X rating on release. This is understandable, although by today's standards it wouldn't come close to one. There are plenty of sexual variances in the film, and some of the acting actually represents this quite well, but the main focus always ends up returning to the main plot, and I suppose this at least should be a positive to show there's a story and it's not all just about the sex.
But I can't get away from how average this is. It's easy to watch, and the people on show are certainly very attractive and there's just enough balance between what is and what isn't shown, but it still doesn't come close to some of the other cult films of its era. Meyer has a cult legendary status, but for me it just doesn't warrant praise. Average at best.