Friday, May 08, 2009

Downwardly mobile

Has an art work ever played a sexier role than the Calder-like mobile in Mark Robson's 1967 movie version of Jacqueline Susann's Valley of the Dolls? Probably not. Susan Hayward plays the ‘yellow pill’ popper Helen Lawson, “A gut fingernail and claw fighter who went down swinging.” In a musical interlude and right out of left field she starts belting out “I’ll plant my own tree” in front of a Calder-like product (designed by art director Richard Day whose most famous credit was On the Waterfront) casting disco colour effects. "I'll plant my own tree / and I'll make it grow. /My tree will not be / just one in a row" – you get the picture. Catch a cheesy vid of Judy Garland (incidentally first choice for the Helen Lawson role) singing the tree song here.
The ‘dolls’ in the movie’s title are uppers – the drug of choice when dancing with a Calder. As they say in the trailer, “Drugs are the instant turn on for instant love.”

Video: You need to go about half way into the clip to catch the Calder