Film Censorship: Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970)


 

 

 

 

Beyond the Valley of the Dolls

Directed by Russ Meyer / 1970 / USA / IMDb

In June 1970, a 9867-feet (109:38) print of BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS was banned because of indecency and drug abuse. At the time, there was no R-rating, with the highest classification available being the SOA, which was equivalent to the M-rating.

 

Following the November 1971 introduction of the R-rating, BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS was immediately resubmitted. Despite being a ‘reconstructed version’, the 9315-feet (103:30) print was still banned for ‘indecency and incitement to drug abuse’.

 

 

 

Video release problems

BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS remained unseen in Australia until 1981 when 20th Century Fox's Magnetic Video label released it on tape. The early days of video were a grey area for censorship, so its banned status was probably of little concern. The running time of the tape was 108:15 which seems to indicate that it was NTSC-PAL conversion.

 

An application in July 1989 to have the film passed by the Censorship Board was unsuccessful. The Board thought that it could be awarded an R18+ rating, but felt that it had no power to review their own 1970 ban. Filmpac Holdings quite rightly decided to appeal this absurd decision, and in September 1989, it was taken to the Review Board.

What follows is the Review Board report where they overturned the Censorship Board's decision and granted an R18+. Note how the tone of the report is particularly dismissive of the film.

 

Review Board
21 September 1989
Applicant: Filmpac Holdings Limited

Decision Reviewed: Refuse to register by the Film Censorship Board

Decision: Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls was made in 1970 and was refused registration at that time pursuant to Customs (Cinematographic Films) Regulations 13(1) (a) and (d). A 16mm version was resubmitted to the Censorship Board in July 1989. Although of the opinion that the film could be accepted for registration with an 'R' classification under current guidelines, the Censorship Board felt obliged to maintain its 1970 decision to refuse registration, on the grounds, as it believed, that it had no power to review its own decisions.

The legal complexities of this matter have been the subject of much advice, and were on the whole more daunting than any questions raised by the content of the film itself. This is a lurid and conspicuously dated account of pill-popping and general depravity in the showbusiness world of Los Angeles, and was a sequel to an earlier film based on a best-selling novel. It was not clear to the Board of Review why anyone should want to secure the film's release after 19 years, or indeed at any time, but we agreed with the Film Censorship Board that under current censorship guidelines the film should not be refused registration.

It was our conclusion that community standards had changed sufficiently since 1970 to justify the release of the film, though whether these changed standards signified an advance or a decline in public taste we were unable to say.

Accordingly, the Board of Review directed Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls be registered and classified 'R' (for Restricted Exhibition).

 

The result of the appeal was a 1990 video release on the CBS/Fox label. The rating was R18+ (Drug Abuse and Occasional Graphic Violence and Sexual Activity). Despite the new rating, it was not uncut. See below for the scenes that were missing.

 

 

2003 uncut DVD version

An uncut version finally appeared in Australia in October 2003 when 20th Century Fox released it on R4 DVD. It runs 104:35, and carries the same R18+ (Drug Abuse and Occasional Graphic Violence and Sexual Activity) as the 1990 VHS.

During the 70s and early 80s Russ Meyer's SUPERVIXENS and UP! also had censorship problems in Australia

 

Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970) - Magnetic Video [au] VHSBeyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970) - CBS-Fox Video [au] VHSBeyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970) - 20th Century Fox [au] DVD

 

 

The censored 1990 CBS/Fox video release

The 1990 CBS/Fox Video release was missing a 23s scene from the climax where Z-Man shoots the girl in the bed. In addition, the opening credits had been re-edited.

 

Z-Man shoots the girl

The following 23s scene is missing from the 1990 CBS/Fox VHS release. It appears in the DVD between 96:10 and 96:33.

Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970) - Z-Man shoots the girl #1Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970) - Z-Man shoots the girl #2Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970) - Z-Man shoots the girl #3
Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970) - Z-Man shoots the girl #4Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970) - Z-Man shoots the girl #5Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970) - Z-Man shoots the girl #6
Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970) - Z-Man shoots the girl #7Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970) - Z-Man shoots the girl #8Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970) - Z-Man shoots the girl #9
Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970) - Z-Man shoots the girl #10Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970) - Z-Man shoots the girl #11Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970) - Z-Man shoots the girl #12
Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970) - Z-Man shoots the girl #13Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970) - Z-Man shoots the girl #14

 

 

The opening credits

In the DVD, parts of the above scene are replayed over the opening credits. In the CBS/Fox tape, it is completely missing. Instead, we see the scene that plays after this at the end of the film. This consists of Z-Man and the band talking on the phone. The rest of the credits are also edited differently. Below are a couple of scenes from the opening credits that are missing from the tape.

Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970) - The opening credits #1Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970) - The opening credits #2


 

 

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