Poor January in 1975 ONCE IS NOT ENOUGH (the late Deborah Raffin from LACE II); having to bare a name like that on account of being born on New Year's day. Imagine what it’s like for her during the Holidays ("Happy New Year." "Er, thank you?"). I mean really. Plus, the girl’s got daddy issues. BIG ones. But can you really blame her when the daddy in question is none other than Kirk Douglas? Talk about a Freudian flick. It’s enough to blush from head to toe just thinking about it. But not I. I’m an old pro at this game. Not about having daddy issues (although after a few drinks, watch out), but seeing the world without rose colored-glasses—especially in films. Forget about all those Hollywood goodie-two-shoes invading our screens. Give me a Nomi Malone or a Jerrilee Randall anytime. OK, I admit, this January broad isn’t really in that same category, but she does try her hardest to be.
The craziness starts when twenty-something January joins her father in the Big Apple. Two things we learn in this scene: January is a little green, having spent all of her youth in a Switzerland hospital recovering from a freak motorcycle accident; and her newly married dad is a down-on-his-luck Hollywood producer living off his wife’s wealth (Silver Screen legend Alexis Smith). After he introduces his daughter to her new stepmom, who turns out to be a closeted lesbian (right on!), a disappointed January sets out to conquer the world. In comes her old high-school pal turned magazine editor Linda (PAPER DOLLS Brenda Vaccaro) who offers her a job. She’s the poster child for re-constructive surgery ("I had a nose job, my tits were lifted, my ass was flattened an my knees were straightened."), plus she’s got a mouth like a sailor. The two join January’s folks at a local restaurant where they also bump into Tom (TV’s THE FUGITIVE David Janssen), a famous alcoholic author à la Norman Mailer. Who? Google him. Linda wants to do him, but he only has eyes for January. Since he’s old enough to be her father, January is interested. But the relationship soon suffers after her dad interferes. Plus Tom seems unable to give himself entirely since he much prefers booze and destructive behavior. In a heartfelt scene tagged by a beautiful Henry Mancini score, we see little January walking into the sunset, lost forever in the Big Apple. The end.
Well, at least that’s what happens in the film version. In the novel, January—high as a kite after taking some LSD at a party—disappears after encountering a UFO (cue in the STAR WARS theme). But as you might guess, Hollywood Honchos weren’t in favor of filming such an outrageous conclusion. ONCE IS NOT ENOUGH is supposed to be high melodrama, not an encounter of the third kind. Speaking of melodrama, I forgot to mention that in the mix of all the fluff comes the news of a fatal airplane crash involving January’s dad and his rich wife. So you can imagine how devastated she truly is when she goes MIA.
When not focusing solely on January, the film features a cast of colorful characters. And truth be told, they all add a little bit more camp to an otherwise basic storyline (girl meets much older boy, older boy is smitten but only for a while…). Paramount Pictures spares no expenses focusing on slick designer duds and exotic locations. It being the last of Susann’s adapted work on the big screen, I can honestly say that ONCE IS NOT ENOUGH is more subdued than any other efforts based on the author. But I still say go for it just to see Kirk Douglas take a shower in front of his maid. Now, wouldn’t it be swell if someone in La La Land decided to put Susann’s posthumous novel DOLORES to the test? It’s all inspired by Jackie Kennedy’s relationship with billionaire Aristotle Onassis. It would make a WONDERFUL film. Oh wait, it’s already been done as THE GREEK TYCOON with Jacqueline Bisset and Anthony Quinn and it’s as addictive as any Susann flick. Remind me to review it one day.