Who indeed? It’s a question posed by Deadline.com in its recent report about actor Will Ferrell’s potential involvement in an in-the-works flick about the making of filmmaker Russ Meyer’s Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. Ferrell, of course, would play Meyer if he signs on to the project, which also lacks a director is currently titled Russ & Roger Go Beyond. The Roger Ebert role remains unassigned.
As fans of the late Sun-Times film critic and star of the hit documentary Life Itself likely know, Ebert wrote the Dolls screenplay in 1969 and was unabashedly proud of his involvement with Meyer’s campy sexploitation flick.
“We wrote the screenplay in six weeks flat, laughing maniacally from time to time, and then the movie was made,” Ebert wrote for Film Comment Magazine in 1980 on the occasion of Dolls‘ 10th anniversary. “Whatever its faults or virtues, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls is an original — 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.”
According to Deadline, the film Ferrell is said to be considering would focus on the relationship of Ebert and Meyers and their “struggle with the ratings board,” which initially slapped the bare breasts-brimming Dolls with a commercially undesirable X. That rating stood for two decades and was eventually downgraded to an NC-17.