Russ Meyer's infamous 1970 sex and drugs exploitation movie, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, was recently uploaded in BluRay resolution to the Internet Archive. It's got great music by The Strawberry Alarm Clock, clever editing, clunky acting, gratuitous sex, an extremely cynical perspective on 1970 Los Angeles, and badly dated homophobia.
Meyer says he and Ebert wrote a 127-page treatment in 10 days and the script in three weeks. Neither of them had read the novel but they watched the 1967 film and used the same formula: "Three young girls come to Hollywood, find fame and fortune, are threatened by sex, violence, and drugs, and either do or do not win redemption," according to Ebert. He later added: "We would include some of the sensational elements of the original story- homosexuality, crippling diseases, characters based on 'real' people, events out of recent headlines- but, again, with flat-out exaggeration."
The script was not only a spoof of the original film, but also, in Ebert's words, "a satire of Hollywood conventions, genres, situations, dialogue, characters, and success formulas, heavily overlaid with such shocking violence that some critics didn't know whether the movie 'knew' it was a comedy".
Ebert said the plot was derived in collaboration "by creating characters and then working out situations to cover the range of exploitable content we wanted in the film. Meyer wanted the film to appeal, in some way, to almost anyone who was under thirty and went to the movies. There had to be music, mod clothes, black characters, violence, romantic love, soap opera situations, behind-the-scenes intrigue, fantastic sets, lesbians, orgies, drugs and (eventually) an ending that tied everything together."
Meyer's intention was for the film to "simultaneously be a satire, a serious melodrama, a rock musical, a comedy, a violent exploitation picture, a skin flick, and a moralistic expose (so soon after the Sharon Tate murders) of what the opening crawl called 'the oft-times nightmarish world of Show Business'".
Ebert later recalled:
At the time we were working on BVD I didn't really understand how unusual the project was. But in hindsight I can recognize that the conditions of its making were almost miraculous. An independent X-rated filmmaker and an inexperienced screenwriter were brought into a major studio and given carte blanche to turn out a satire of one of the studio's own hits. And BVD was made at a time when the studio's own fortunes were so low that the movie was seen almost fatalistically, as a gamble that none of the more respectable studio executives really wanted to think about, so that there was a minimum of supervision (or even cognizance) from the Front Office.
Meyer submitted the script to Richard Zanuck at Fox in September and Zanuck greenlit the film.
Meyer said when Fox offered him the film "I felt like I had pulled off the biggest caper in the world."
He described the film as "a soap opera for young people, a cornocopia of wild, way-out now entertainment."