Fox has included three audio options for the feature on the first disc – English Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo, English Dolby Digital Mono, and French Digital Mono. Optional subtitles are included in English and Spanish and an English language closed captioning option is provided for the feature itself.
While a 5.1 mix might have been fun for the party scenes and the musical numbers, the tracks we've got on this DVD get the job done nicely. The mono is clean and clear and free of any hiss or distortion as is the stereo track, which adds some nice channel separation to a few scenes and spreads the music out a little bit more to nice effect. The low end is strong while the high end is distinct without being too shrill.
The main extra feature on the first disc is an audio commentary with Barbara Parkins moderated by Ted Casablanca of the E! Channel. This is a pretty interesting discussion and you can tell that the movie means a lot to Ted who keeps Barbara on track pretty much throughout. There's a fair bit of time spent discussing what happens on the screen rather than how things were during the making of the film but there are quite a few fun anecdotes in here that cover a fair bit of ground. Parkins talks a little bit about her relationship with her co-stars and how she got along with the director as well as how the movie affected her career later on in her life. Also included on the first disc is a Trivia Overdose – A Pill Popping Guide To The Valley Of The Dolls option that provides 'Pop Up Video' style trivia bits on screen as the movie plays out.
The second disc is where the bulk of the supplements are found, starting with the featurettes section. The first featurette, The Divine Ms. Susann is a look at Jacqueline Susann's life through interviews with people who knew and worked with her. A wealth of family photos and pictures of her from throughout her life document this alongside the interview clips as we learn how she was a 'bad girl' in her younger years and how she later went to New York to get into show business (much like the characters in her book) and finally got married. This piece if almost fifteen minutes long and it serves as a really nice and genuinely fun look at her life and times.
The Dish On The Dolls, the second featurette, includes interviews with noted gay film critic Alonso Duralde of the movie who explain the enduring appeal of the film and compares it to The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Michael Musto of The Village Voice covers the celebrity cameo factor that the film had working in its favor and along with Alonso they cover a lot of the odd little details about the movie that only the obsessive fans will likely pick up on. At five minutes and twenty-seven seconds this one is just a little too short but it does cover some very cool and enjoyable material – definitely don't watch it before the feature however as it will spoil half the fun of the movie.
The third and final featurette is Hollywood Backstories: Valley Of The Dolls. This made for TV special covers the reality behind the story that the movie tells and some of the interesting parallels that it had to the careers of some of the people involved in the movie. There are plenty of clips of the film used in this one (almost too many, at times it feels like padding) as well as some great behind the scenes pictures and interesting stories about various aspects of the production. Barbara Perkins shows up and talks about some of her co-stars as does one of the choreographer's involved in the movie who explains how Judy Garland was infamously fired from the production due to her behavior and her drinking. The interviews are the most interesting part of this featurette as they really dish out some gossip, while the narration, as dry as it is at times, does a good job of providing context for all of this. The running time on this one is twenty three minutes and four seconds.
Once we're through with the featurettes we find a section called From The Medicine Chest – A Secret Stash Of Archival Footage. Included in here is a pretty interesting assortment of random clips and footage relating to the film, starting off with Valley Of The Dolls – A World Premiere Voyage from 1967 which is an excellent forty-eight minutes television special that Fox originally broadcast to promote the film's theatrical release that details various worldwide premieres of the film and presents them in a strange sort of travelogue fashion. Jacqueline Susann And The Valley Of The Dolls, also from 1967, is roughly fifty minutes of another television special that details Susann's book and it's journey to the big screen. In here we see some clips from the movie and some great interviews with the perpetually chain-smoking writer who explains what her story is all about and why. There are even clips with the man who was, at the time, the president of 20th Century Fox talking up the movie. Interesting stuff! Also included in this segment are screen tests for Sharon Tate and Tonni Scotti (4:51), another one for Tate solo where she does her famous breast exercises (2:03), a screen test for Scotti doing his serenade (3:13), and finally a great screen test for Barbara Perkins as Neely O'Hara (7:26). Two television spots and two theatrical trailers round out this section.
There's also a section on the second disc called You've Got Talent Karaoke – Follow The Bouncing Doll in which you can sing along to three songs from the movie - The Theme From Valley Of The Dolls, It's Impossible and I'll Plant My Own Tree. Some fun clips from the film play out underneath each of the three tracks and a 'play all' option is also included.
Last but not least is a section called Musical Numbers From Valley Of The Dolls which is basically the film's soundtrack. Eleven tracks are included and they play as music only with only the menu screen underneath. Again, a 'play all' option is included or you can select your preferred track on its own.
The two discs are housed inside a translucent pink colored keep case that in turn rests inside a cardboard slipcase. The artwork on both the keepcase and the slipcase is identical on the front though the backs differ in that the keepcase has credits as well as technical specs on the back, the slipcase does not. Inside, aside from the discs, there is a small envelope which, when opened, contains four postcard sized lobby card reproductions and a small booklet which has three pages of liner notes that explain how the film came to be and a listing of chapter stops for the feature.
While age hasn't been so kind to the film, Valley Of The Dolls is almost better because of that fact. The melodrama is so completely over the top and the performances so surreal in spots that the movie is one of those 'fabulous disaster' films that can't be planned but instead just sort of seem to happen. Fox has done a fantastic job on this release, it looks and sounds great and comes with a wealth of fun supplements making this two disc collector's edition highly recommended.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.