The Grind-Fu Cinema double bill this month is one that we're exceptionally proud of. We have literally been dreaming of this line up since the day we first started thinking up Grind-Fu Cinemas. Now, a lot of people are familiar with Boogie Nights. It was Paul Thomas Anderson's first big film, and it's packed with moments that stand out even when compared to his other films. The other morning we spent a good twenty minutes with Maverick Slim just geeking out and quoting scenes from the film. It's quality stuff.
One thing that I have heard from some folks is that they aren't sure about Beyond The Valley of the Dolls. They don't know Russ Meyer's work, and they just aren't familiar with the film, and because of that they don't know if they'll attend Grind-Fu THIS SATURDAY NIGHT. While I understand this apprehension, I... wait, I don't understand it.
We all have favorite movies, right? There was a time when we had never seen them, right? Maybe this is one of those films! There is a very good possibility that seeing Beyond The Valley of the Dolls IN A THEATER FOR FREE could be one of those great memorable moments in your film going lives. This could be one of those movies that you will talk about over and over with wonder and amazement, because you realize that there are no other films like it. There just aren't. You could question that, but if you haven't seen it yet you'll have to wait until Sunday night before you do.
REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD ATTEND
BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS!
1) THE CARRIE NATIONS
With the exception of Spinal Tap, The Carrie Nations could be the greatest fake band in film history. Let's look at the members:
Dolly Read as as Kelly Mac Namara
Cynthia Myers as Casey Anderson
Marcia McBroom as Petronella Danforth
In a move that surprised no one, Russ Meyer selected two Playboy Playmates and a fashion model to make up his band. Together they bring an energy to their performances that is unexpected from three first time actresses. While Marcia McBroom went on to shoot other films, Beyond The Valley of the Dolls is the only film that both Dolly Read or Cynthia Myers acted in.
2) THE MUSIC
From virtually the first frame on we're hearing terrific music, not only from The Carrie Nations but also from The Strawberry Alarm Clock, who perform their hit Incense and Peppermints.
Much of the music was written or co-written by Stu Phillips, a long time composer,songwriter, and producer. In addition to producing The Marcel's Blue Moon and Shelley Fabres' Johnny Angel, he was also the mastermind behind The Hollyridge Strings releases. Phillips' most notorious work, by far, was the soundtrack for Beyond The Valley of the Dolls. He wrote the score for it, as well as co-wrote the Carrie Nations songs.
As far as pop songs go, they're great. They don't feel like songs from a fake band at all. Part of this is due to the incredible vocals of Lynn Carey, who really tears into the material. Strangely, Carey's vocals are replaced on the original soundtrack album. From what I understand, she (rightly) felt she wasn't being properly compensated or credited for her work, so the powers that be had her replaced. It's remarkable that they could find somebody to even come close to her performance for the album, because her vocals are so powerful and distinct. Fortunately they were made available with the CD reissue of the soundtrack.
2) THE SCREENPLAY
Nobody writes dialogue like Russ Meyer. It's big and over the top and is the verbal equivalent of the leading ladies in his films. Take this example from Faster Pussycat! KILL! KILL!:
He writes like a vulgar Shakespeare!
Meyer co-wrote the screenplay with Roger Ebert. Yes, THE Roger Ebert. Ebert was already a film critic, but was also a longtime admirer of Russ Meyer's body of work. The two of them holed up in offices at 20th Century Fox and pounded this thing out. What needs to be remembered is that Russ Meyer was a guy that never really got past his World War II experiences, culturally speaking, and Roger Ebert was a film critic from middle America. Neither of them had any experience with hippie culture, so what you're seeing is what they think constitutes Hippie culture. It plays like a fever cartoon. An amazing and unforgettable fever cartoon.
3) SEX AND VIOLENCE
We're all grown ups here. We've seen a thing or two in movies. It should be no surprise to anyone that a Hollywood movie contains sex and violence. This is America, after all, and you can see these things on any given night on the evening news. What you'll see in Beyond The Valley of the Dolls is nothing that we couldn't see in an Rated R film today. At the time, however, the sex and violence in Beyond The Valley of the Dolls was considered over the top, and as such it was given this rating:
Yes, Beyond The Valley of the Dolls is Rated X. Or was Rated X. What we need to remember is that at the time this film came out (1970) an X rating wasn't what it is today. In fact, Midnight Cowboy was rated X and it won Best Picture in 1969.
Today's X equivalent is the NC 17 rating. Basically, it means that the film has content unsuitable for younger audiences, and attendance is restricted to mature adults. IT DOES NOT MEAN PORNOGRAPHY. Eventually the porn industry co-opted the X to market their movies, and eventually it lost all meaning for conventional films.
What does this rating mean? It means that this Grind-Fu is for ADULTS ONLY. No kids allowed, and for crying out loud, don't bring them! Don't be that person.
4) YOU ARE A THRIFTY PERSON THAT APPRECIATES COOL MOVIES
It bears repeating that Grind-Fu Cinema is FREE. It's always FREE. You can see Beyond The Valley of the Dolls AND Boogie Nights FOR FREE. How can we afford to do this? We can't. But we do, because you guys rule. Also, Grind-Fu Cinema is a great time, and the audiences we get are some of the best we've ever seen films with. To see these two together is gonna be a real treat. Don't miss out!
GRIND-FU CINEMA PRESENTS
Beyond The Valley of the Dolls
Paul Thomas Anderson's
Saturday, June 28th at 7:00pm
Wiecking 220 Auditorium
Minnesota State University, Mankato
You should see both films, because you can. Honestly, Beyond The Valley of the Dolls doesn't screen that often, and it was only recently that we were able to get the rights to it. It isn't even available on DVD right now, so it's not like you can just pop out and see it. If you absolutely have to pick and choose, here are the showtimes for each movie:
7:00 - BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS
9:00 - BOOGIE NIGHTS
But you should really see both. They're too good to pass up.
I'm the new boy in town! Where can I go?