Based on the novel by Jacqueline Susann, Once is Not Enough (1975) is the kind of campy, overwrought cheese fest fans of Jacqueline Susann have come to expect. Much like Valley of the Dolls (1967), there’s a mix of faded Hollywood stars and up-and-coming nobodies like Kirk Douglas, Alexis Smith, David Janssen, George Hamilton, Brenda Vaccaro, Melina Mercouri, and Deborah Raffin serving up more melodrama in 121 minutes, than you ever thought possible.
Kirk Douglas plays Hollywood producer Mike Wayne, who has a very close relationship with his 20-ish daughter January (Deborah Raffin). The film plays it coy about spelling out what it implies in nearly every scene—that father and daughter have a repressed desire for each other. A three-time Oscar winner, Mike Wayne’s career is on the skids. His latest spec script has netted him only $7,500 as the studio wanted him off the project, in favor of a younger man. The timing couldn’t be worse, because January, naïve and virginal, is due home from Switzerland, where she has spent the last three years recuperating from a devastating motorcycle accident.
Knowing that he can no longer afford the lavish lifestyle he and January are accustomed to, Mike comes up with a plan while in Europe: an arranged marriage with Deidre Milford Granger (Alexis Smith), the fifth wealthiest woman in the world and four times divorced. Calculating the benefits to her business—an attractive, articulate escort to various parties—Deidre agrees. Sex barely enters into the picture and the idea of love is laughable. So, when January gets home, she’s introduced to her new step-mother. It’s safe to say she has an over-the-top reaction to her father sharing someone’s bed.
Shortly thereafter, we’re introduced to Deidre’s nephew David Milford (George Hamilton) described as “the biggest stud in New York.” For reasons never made clear, Deidre feels that David would make the perfect husband for January, planning a marriage announcement and wedding timed to coincide with her spring party schedule in Palm Beach. However, the romance is a disaster for both parties. David is horrified to learn he’s deflowered a virgin and January “wanted to fall in love” with him, after they had sex, but, no dice.
Meanwhile, January’s former schoolmate and new boss Linda Riggs (Brenda Vaccaro), an editor at Gloss Magazine, is shocked by January’s reluctance to jump into the sack with any man with a pulse. An ugly duckling during her school days, Linda has had a laundry list of cosmetic procedures and uses sex to advance her career and forget how ugly she was. Enter middle-aged Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist and ballroom brawler Tom Colt (David Janssen). Though Tom has a violent history with her father, January finds herself immediately attracted to the older man—can you say daddy issues?—and the two are soon lovers.
Adapted for the screen by Julius J. Epstein, of Casablanca fame, this kind of soapy melodrama isn’t what you would associate with a man who has his pedigree. Guy Green (The Mark, A Patch of Blue) directs an impressive cast including Kirk Douglas, Alexis Smith, David Janssen, and Melina Mercouri. These are all talented people, so despite the campy fun factor, it’s hard not to think that Once is Not Enough could and should have been a much better film. Even the great and usually reliable Henry Mancini provides a score that is rather dull and lacking any real flourishes. All of the film adaptations of Jacqueline Susann’s novels offer up some good, campy fun, but this one is no Valley of the Dolls.
Presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen, Olive Films 1080p Blu-ray is in very good condition. While there is some minor damage along the way, the colors look fairly accurate if a bit dull at times. Flesh tones are a bit on the pink side. While I wouldn’t call the image particularly detailed, there are no stability or DNR issues.
Once is Not Enough features a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio Mono mix which doesn’t provide much depth, but nonetheless provides clear dialogue. Henry Mancini’s score is also nicely represented for what it is. There’s no damage to report.
There are no subtitles available.
There are no special features included.
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