Once Is Not Enough Is Must-See Camp

Categories: Film

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Any serious camp lover has surely seen classic films like Valley of the Dolls and The Love Machine, adapted from the works of the queen of glossy Hollywood sexcapades, the lacquered-haired Jackie Susann.

But another gem from her cinema canon, 1975's Jacqueline Susann's Once Is Not Enough, is a criminally neglected hoot and a half full of half-baked wisdoms and borderline incest.

The blandly pretty Deborah Raffin plays January, a dazed-looking virgin who's madly in love with her Hollywood producer father, Kirk Douglas.

Kirk marries socialite Alexis Smith, so Raffin has to look elsewhere, giving up her hymen to player George Hamilton before settling in with mumbly Norman Mailer type slash father figure David Janssen.

Meanwhile, unbeknownst to Kirk, Alexis Smith happens to have a toothy side dish -- the Garboesque actress played with Charo-like zest by Melina Mercouri.

Yes, these two movie icons have a lezzie bedroom scene complete with kissing, cooing, canoodling, and jewelry removing! All these years later, this still has to be seen to be disbelieved!

(And it's kind of sweet, actually, though it's a shame they have to be so secretive about their passion. Today, they'd no doubt be married.)

Enter Brenda Vaccaro as an old friend of January's who's had all kinds of surgical lifts to emerge as the attractive editor of Gloss magazine, which regularly runs celebrity features and articles about cats.

But she's so trashy that Janssen rejects her for fear of getting STDs, and some other man tells her, "You have a mouth like 10 fingers and 10 fingers like a mouth."

The jet-setting melodrama climaxes with Raffin blankly emitting the title saying, after which Janssen pees at P.J. Clarke's and dumps her via some more drunken mumbling.

Kirk and Alexis die in a fiery plane crash, only to have Dad's trusty maid Mabel inform January that her father enjoyed "one long parade of poontang."

And speaking of which, Brenda Vaccaro fucks her boss, who tells her she's a great lay but a terrible editor and promptly fires her.

And in the most shocking move of all, Brenda was Oscar-nominated for Best Supporting Actress!

A Jackie Susann movie got an Oscar nomination!

She's actually a lot of fun, whereas Raffin and Janssen make such a numbing pair that you applaud his tottering off to urinate.

To make the whole thing even more campily perfect, I have a VHS version from the Joan Collins collection, introduced by Joanie herself.

And I ain't giving it up.


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13 comments
MarkyMark
MarkyMark

The 1970s was full of wonderful trash, but my personal favorite is the 1978 made-for-TV "The Users".  Based on Joyce Haber's novel, with acid-tongued screenplay by the inimitable Dominick Dunne, its a "tear the lid off Hollywood" tale featuring Tony Curtis in a typecast role as a has-been Hollywood star, who is discovered by his ex-hooker wife (stunningly gorgeous Jacklyn Smith) in their bedroom having a tryst with a gay-bar pickup!  Dunne should know...  The amazing cast also includes Joan Fontaine, Carrie Nye, and Michelle Phillips as a friendly nympho movie star.

Another fun one from Dominick Dunne is the 1991 "An Inconvenient Woman" which includes amusing performances from Roddy McDowall and Elaine Stritch among many others. 

Ynnocence
Ynnocence

I've long been partial to The Other Side of Midnight, which came out same year as (and got beat by) Star Wars, and has turned out to be the better older movie in the end. Talk about sheer guilty pleasure! As a result, I tended to resist other camp classics I hadn't seen. But guess what I'll be ordering once my credit card clears? The appropriately titled Once Is Not Enough!

Southern Dave
Southern Dave

Brenda had a lonnnnng thing with Kirk Douglas' son, Michael.

The last time I saw her was on a "Columbo.'"

Anyone know what happened to her?

And please, nobody say, "What's 'Columbo'?"

Gregorama
Gregorama

God, you reminded me to put this at the top of my "MUST SEE" list!  It sure keeps a low profile, doesn't it?  Gotta get me a copy.  The other Susann novel that was turned into a hilarious low-radar camp classic is "The Love Machine," which seems to be beamed in from another planet!  John Phillip Law plays the title "machine" exactly that way:  Like a dreamy-looking robot.  And if you're looking to re-do your interior in perfect "high early 70's," it must be studied.  Why hasn't some queen offered these three classics on a triple-bill somewhere?

Anne Thrax
Anne Thrax

Brenda Vaccaro shines in anything she's in!

Midge
Midge

Lee Grant won the Oscar that year for Shampoo. Lily Tomlin and Ronee Blakely were both up for Nashville.

Mae Swazey
Mae Swazey

As I recall, Brenda V. won a best supporting actress Golden Globe for this performance!

mjm
mjm

don't forget Joan Collins in the movie versions of her sister Jackie's novels The Stud and The Bitch, playing the same character, Fontaine Khaled (total drag queen name). A campy delight!

VonD
VonD

The answers are right at your fingertips, chile! Go to IMDb and search under Brenda Vaccaro!

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