Star Wars: The Last Jedi
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Matt Zoller Seitz celebrates "Beyond the Valley of the Dolls," now available on Criterion Blu-ray and DVD.
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I hesitated just a moment before including Miss June 1975 in my piece about Hugh Hefner. I wondered if some readers would find the nude photograph objectionable. Then I smiled at myself. Here I was, writing an article in praise of Hefner's healthy influence on American society, and I didn't know if I should show a Playmate of the Month. Wasn't I being a hypocrite? I waited to see what the reaction would be.
The Sun-Times doesn't publish nudes on its site, but my page occupies a sort of netherland: I own it in cooperation with the newspaper, but control its contents. If anyone complains, I thought, it will be the paper, and if they do I'll take it down.
Enlarge image: Messrs. Meyer and Ebert at the time of their collaboration.
Yes, "Beyond the Valley of the Dolls" is available on DVD at last. Dennis Cozzalio has a fine assessment of Russ Meyer's busterpiece over at Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule -- and an appreciation of the commentary track by "BVD" screenwriter Roger Ebert, as well: And now it seems that time, and film critics and film audiences, may finally have caught up with Ebert and Meyer. Last week's DVD release of "Beyond the Valley of the Dolls" (in tandem with the straightforward Mark Robson-directed 1967 adaptation of "Valley of the Dolls") provides a chance to see the candy-colored Panavision psychedelia, the free-associative montage, and the unbridled energy that powers Meyer and Ebert's play(boy/Pent)house sensibility to greater advantage than it has probably ever been seen.
"Beyond the Valley of the Dolls," a movie for which Roger Ebert wrote the screenplay in 1969, is being released Tuesday, June 12 on DVD. The two-disc special edition includes a commentary track by Ebert, other commentaries by the actors Dolly Read, Cynthia Myers, Marcia McBroom, Harrison Page, John LaZar and Erica Gavin. On the second disc are several documentaries about the film, its production and its music.
Russ Meyer is dead. The legendary independent director, who made exploitation films but was honored as an auteur, died Saturday at his home in the Hollywood Hills. He was 82, and had been suffering from dementia. The immediate cause of death was pneumonia, said Janice Cowart, a friend who supervised his care during his last years. She announced his death Tuesday.
It may be one of the 10 best movies of the 1970s, as the critic Richard Corliss once said, or it may be saddled with a script by a neophyte screenwriter, as Gene Siskel once said, but "Beyond the Valley of the Dolls" was one of the great experiences of my life. When Russ Meyer, the King of the Bs, called up in 1969 to ask me to write a screenplay at 20th Century Fox, he began an adventure later described as the maniacs taking over the studio. In six reckless weeks, starting with only a title, we created the movie from scratch. "This is not a sequel!" the ads said. "There has never been anything like it!"