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.