Saturday, November 20, 2010

"Ted Casablanca is NOT a fag....."

".....And I'm the dame who can prove it."

If you immediately laughed with recognition at this (in)famous line from the 1967 classic "Valley of the Dolls", congratulations! You are a true member of the fan club.

Today, this flamboyant and beloved cult soap opera will screen at the Music Box Theatre in Chicago, followed by a Q and A with Neely O'Hara herself, Patty Duke in person.

You can be sure I will be there, along with a packed house of mostly gay fans, ready to laugh and cheer and gleefully recite lines like this and many others, and cheer affectionately at the misguided direction, scenery-chewing, and unintentionally funny set pieces fans have grown to love over the decades.

The movie was a sensational hit in 1967-68, mostly because it promised a hothouse of sex, nudity and drugs. It delivered that, along with some incredible dialogue, and mind-boggling performances (not to mention a few unforgettable musical interludes). It played like an inept "All About Eve" or a bad gay party in drag: faux-glamorous, bitchy, and hyper-dramatic.

Gay fans, and many of the stars of the film, have come to embrace this so-bad-it's good movie, that, in a curious way, works on its own terms, if you're in the right mood for melodrama. Good sports all of them, stars like Duke, Lee Grant, and Barbara Parkins have all given their blessing to this "best and funniest bad movie ever".
(Sadly, the appearance of another star, Sharon Tate, a victim of the Manson murders, lends an eerie glow to every scene she is in. Ironically, she probably comes off better than anyone else in the cast.)

I will be back with a report and a review later, along with a look at Patty Duke, a respected actress, mother of a Hobbit, and loving caretaker of a schnauzer, two dachshunds, two shih-tzus and an Irish wolfhound.

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