Once Is Not Enough (1975) Poster

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I miss this terrific film
theeht30 July 2004
I haven't seen this in a while, and miss this rarely seen pic, which deserves a cult following. Deborah Raffin is outstanding as a gorgeous young girl with strange feelings for her Dad. She gets involved with an unhappy alcoholic writer, played by David Janssen. Brenda Vaccaro is outstanding as her beautiful but embittered friend who is desperate for a man. And Melinda Mercouri is memorable as a lovely lesbian. They knew they were making a piece of trash here, and it is well worth your time. Good job. I esp. like those corny singers at the end of the film which seem to have stepped out of a 1960s movie!Deborah is good and she is fortunate to have such a great ensemble cast to support her. Enjoy!
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One can never get enough (of this movie!)
Poseidon-316 July 2002
Warning: Spoilers
It's true....Only the skeleton of Ms. Susann's novel remains in this bland, dreary screen treatment. All the truly racy parts are sanitized out partly or completely. Still, there's something irresistible about this film in a good/bad way. The stellar cast tiptoeing its way around such sordid subjects as casual sex, incestuous feelings, loss of virginity, lesbianism et al provides curiosity appeal. Aside from the bleaching of the story elements, the biggest flaw is the time spent on Raffin. She is almost adequate in the film, but her character is not very easy to identify with and can be pretty annoying. She, unfortunately, is the primary focus of the story. Douglas carries her along pretty well, but even he doesn't get the screen time one might like and does disappear for a large chunk of it. The major interest comes from the more colorful and vivid supporting cast. Vaccaro got a lot of attention as the man-hungry, plain-speaking magazine editor. She adds a lot of zing to a very sedate film. Hamilton is his usual suave self but fades out quietly, Janssen gives a thoughtful if drowsy performance and can almost be understood at times through his growl, Mercouri is barely seen at all (her story was all but snipped out of the script) and Conway has, literally, nothing to do but look handsome. The chief reason for sitting through all the melodrama and angst (aside from witnessing Conway running on the beach in the teeniest cutoff sweat pants) is to witness the wry, slick, surprising performance of Smith. Her character is a fascinating blend of haughty arrogance, vulnerability, style, elegance and bawdiness. She plays a part that would have made her old boss Jack Warner keel over from shock. Moss Mabry decked Ms. Smith in the latest (now hilariously dated) styles and with her regal air and frosted pageboy, she RUNS the film while she's on screen. Most unforgettable is her backgammon partner "Joyce". The title music by Mancini sounds like a dry run for the TV series "Hotel". He basically switched a few notes around, dusted it off and "Abrakadabra"! ...a TV theme song was born! Most excruciating for anyone who sat through the film and didn't like it (which is probably 80% of the viewing audience) is the ending, in which "highlights" of the film are reviewed (and reviewed!) over more of the title music--this time sung by generic crooners who may as well be singing about mouthwash and who probably worked on 1973's "Lost Horizon" in some cruel attempt to end film-making forever! This is a special brand of glamorously produced, but insipid, film-making. It's an acquired taste, but delicious to those who like it. One nagging question remains...... Among Douglas, Janssen, Hamilton and Conway, they chose to show Janssen's naked behind???? Assault with a deadly weapon.
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Camp trash mini-classic!
Aussie Stud14 December 2005
If you happen to catch this movie, it could easily be mistaken for the pilot episode of an 80's prime-time soap. How the producers thought that anyone would seriously pay good money to watch this midday made-for-TV movie at the theater is incredibly hilarious.

Kirk Douglas surprisingly headlines this incestuous melodrama where his daughter January (Deborah Raffin) harbors some sort of daddy-complex since the day she was born. I would have loved to have sat through a theater screening of this and observed the faces of the audience around me. I don't know if I would have seen smirks or looks of discomfort, like someone shouldn't have eaten those bad tacos for lunch.

The movie is very outdated. It's lifted right from a Jacqueline Susann novel (or basically take your pick from any Harlequin read) and plays out just like it on the small screen. Most of the close-ups are shot through a filter, the soundtrack is hijacked by Henry Mancini's orchestrated strings, and all the actresses parade themselves with such high camp you'll find it hard not to fall in love with this atrocity.

Most hilarious is January's attraction to David Janssen's character. Talk about taking the daddy-complex to the next level! Brenda Vaccaro who received an Oscar nomination(!!!) for her portrayal of a man-hungry sex-starved magazine editor is absolutely stunning. She delivered plain awful dialog with perfect snap, "He laid me, and then he fired me!" and also managing to keep a straight face at the same time, she definitely deserved the nomination.

The best line comes out of the mouth of Douglas' long-suffering housekeeper, Mabel (Lillian Randolph), "For twelve years, it's just been a parade of poon-tang!", as she boards the bus to Santa Monica.

Throw in a closeted lesbian millionaire engaging in a secret relationship with a reclusive Hispanic actress (where else could you view an interracial middle-aged lesbian sex scene!!), gratuitous shots of Gary Conway (portraying an astronaut LOL!) running in short shorts on a beach and Deborah Raffin staring blankly into the camera as if she were doped on percosets, and you have the ultimate camp classic of 1975.

There was a scene with Raffin's character walking blankly across the road (nearly getting run over by a taxi) after she is devastated by Janssen's character, and yet I still could not determine any difference in her acting from that scene to the entire film.

Vaccaro is definitely the one thing that holds this movie together, although her character isn't necessary to the story. She seemed to express more personality than all of the other characters combined that it was a joy to watch her self-diagnosing, "Sleeping with men makes me feel better!" It made me feel better too.
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Douglas Sirk with Down Syndrome
nunculus6 August 1999
Wackadoo slice of late Susann--the most swanky I-love-daddy fantasy ever committed to celluloid. Little princess Deborah Raffin can't get over those warm, tingly feelings she has for Daddy (Kirk Douglas), a worn-out Hollywood producer reduced to marrying a lesbian billionaire (Alexis Smith) to keep Princess in cashmere. When she feels her special place has been taken by the sapphic capitalist, she shifts to a handy incest-surrogate--a soused genius novelist (David Janssen) who seems to be modeled after Norman Mailer. In a stroke of sublime Susann fantasy, Mailer-Janssen is impotent--cured by the nubile caresses of Princess. Throw in Brenda Vaccaro as a man-eating fashion editor and you have a mound of trash with as much fragrance as a New York sanitation strike.

The saddest credits on this number: "Producer--Howard Koch. Assistant Director--Howard Koch, Jr." Imagine the agony of poor Guy Green, an aging British yeoman who had just finished work on a biography of Martin Luther, as he struggled with the correct way to shoot a sex scene between Alexis Smith and Melina Mercouri. It's all not quite as peacocklike as it sounds, but Susann certainly had a pop style--the raspy voice of an old Broadway bawd telling an ingenue (i.e., her hausfrau-ly reader), how it really is in the big, ugly, grown-up world. The freaky, non-contradictory mix of camp, obsession and melodrama a la fromage has a sweetness a half century later: the biggest-selling woman author of all time really did just want to be a pampered shiksa teenager stroking some graying temples.
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Worse would be better
ofumalow21 November 2009
The big-screen "Valley of the Dolls" and under-appreciated "Love Machine" are both camp film classics in their different ways. But this adaptation of Susann's last novel has a reputation as an embarrassment without being quite bad or enjoyable enough to reward that historical semi-misjudgment. English-born director director Guy Green (perhaps best known for 1965 Sidney Poitier vehicle "A Patch of Blue" and the disastrous 1968 adaptation of John Fowles' "The Magus") does a thoroughly respectable job with his very trashy source material--which is to say he mostly sucks the life out of it via soft-focus and an over-delicate approach to performers who might easily have gone into ham overdrive. They include Kirk Douglas as a Hollywood mogul, Alexis Smith as his ex-wife and Melina Mercouri as her lover; plus Gary Conway, George Hamilton and David Janssen as suitors to our heroine, Douglas' daughter Deborah Raffin.

The latter was a classic 70s shampoo commercial (Clairol!) blonde beauty a la Cybill Shepherd almost boosted to stardom in films that fell short. She's more emotionally naturalistic than this movie's often ludicrous soap-opera situations deserve. But at the same time, a more histrionic lead performance and more shamelessly melodramatic directorial hand might have made "Once Is Not Enough" an enduring guilty pleasure rather than just a dated bad movie. Watching it again just now did make me wonder about Raffin, however, who's apparently remained active as a TV/film actress with a modest profile (according to IMDb). She was only 21 when she made this movie, but she holds her own alongside some historied stars.

The best thing about "Once Is Not Enough," however, is Brenda Vaccaro. Following a long line of wisecracking second leads from Pert Kelton to Eve Arden to Dyan Cannon and beyond, she gets an unexpectedly ideal showcase in a seriocomic support role in a disposable movie. She's terrific. Her enjoyment in the role does a lot to dignify a stupid film--one otherwise marked mostly by the efforts of talented people to ignore how trashy their source material is.
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What a Semi-Gem!
shanfrina1 December 2010
... Thank goodness legendary Hollywood film composer Henry Mancini wrote the score for this movie, for as usual, it elevates this flick with its interesting cast! - Led by Kirk Douglas, the ensemble is then headed up by Brenda Vacarro, who was nominated for an Oscar and won a Golden Globe award for her tasty role. ... "Once is Not Enough" is "Valley of The Dolls" East, but not as good! Still, is has its moments. And having worked in print-journalism for 35+ yrs. in the mainstream and gay media on both coasts: including 15-yrs. with "Billboard Magazine" in L.A., Vegas-&-the Bflo./Rochester, NY markets - I've met these "types" and lived in their worlds briefly. - Some are shallow for sure, selfish, others caring, kind, talented. Of course rich, often stingy while others very generous. All human. Kudos to Paramount Studios for this semi-gem from 1975!
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In this case, once IS enough
Vince-57 May 2001
Jacqueline Susann's glamorous, emotional, highly personal novels always lost something in their translation to the screen. Once Is Not Enough is another prime example. But it doesn't have the unintended hilarity of Valley of the Dolls, nor the compelling sleaziness of The Love Machine. The most outrageous and memorable elements of the book are excised completely, and the result is two hours of sudsy romantic nothingness. Without the pills, vitamin shots, wild sex (including an acid-fueled orgy), and disturbing violence that infused the compelling novel, the story is as flat as week-old ginger ale.

It's a slick production with an all-star cast, including the engaging Deborah Raffin as January, but the material is awful. The filmmakers' were obviously trying for a "respectable" approach, and the results are just plain boring. Case in point: Jackie provided the book with a surreal, escapist conclusion that's wholly amazing, whereas the movie just...ends. The book was about a naive girl trying to deal with life, and the movie is about--say it with me now!--LOOOOOOOVE! And it's like every other mediocre movie on the subject.

However, things are brightened by Brenda Vaccaro in her Golden Globe-winning, Oscar-nominated turn as uninhibited magazine editor Linda Riggs. She's the perfect realization of Susann's character (albeit with toned-down material) and provides a lot more spirit than this tepid production deserves. Her performance alone merits a viewing, but everything else is a daytime-TV-style mess. About as shocking as a trip to the supermarket--perhaps even less so.
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She's Just Daddy's Little Girl
bkoganbing28 July 2011
Once Is Not Enough is one of those films with the built in audience who were devoted followers of the works of Jacqueline Susann's. In fact to insure the fans of Jackie knew this film was about her book her name was worked into the title when released. Some might argue that the film was inflicted.

But to be fair the movie-going public knew this was trash going in and the cast knew this was trash as they spoke their lines with various degrees of conviction. One of the cast Brenda Vaccaro did it with so much conviction that she wound up with a nomination for Best Supporting Actress, but lost to Lee Grant for Shampoo. Vaccaro does add quite a bit of zip to the film as the cheerfully hedonistic friend of protagonist Deborah Raffin. Jackie Susann clearly took that aspect of the film from Marjorie Morningstar and what Herman Wouk wrote in his novel and what was shown on film between Natalie Wood and Carolyn Jones.

Kirk Douglas plays an aging over the hill producer whose daughter Raffin had been in rehab for many years due to head injuries. She's now coming out and Douglas to provide for her and not incidentally to maybe get financing for his future projects becomes the latest of a string of husbands to billionairess Alexis Smith.

In the days of gay liberation it might not be understood, but what Smith wants is a what we used to call a beard. Her real passion is movie queen Merlina Mercouri whom we see too little of in Once Is Not Enough. I can't quite believe that Douglas is that big a fool that he doesn't realize he's married to a lesbian. It would have made more sense to have that part of the novel and film up front.

As for Raffin when sparks don't ignite between her and playboy cousin of Smith's George Hamilton she takes up with boozy over the hill novelist David Janssen. That doesn't sit well with Douglas who can't stand the guy, probably because except for the drink he sees too much of himself in Janssen. It threatens the daddy's little girl relationship he has with Raffin which is what drives the film.

Jackie Susann's fans made this one a winner at the box office, but the reticence of the film probably because certain folks the characters were modeled on were very much alive kind of neutered the content.
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Right up there with VALLEY OF THE DOLLS...
ijonesiii13 January 2006
I guess no one was able to turn out how quality camp in the 60's better than Jacqueline Susaan and every one of her novels that reached the big screen became a camp classic and this one was no exception. ONCE IS NOT ENOUGH is a camp classic from the Susaan library that induces numerous giggles along the way as it follows the adventures of a rich girl named January Wayne (the wooden Deborah Raffin)who is the daughter of a washed up of movie director (Kirk Douglas), with whom she has a semi-incestuous relationship with, who resents her father's marriage to a wealthy matriarch (Alexis Smith) and retaliates by having an affair with an alcoholic writer (David Janssen) who is her father's biggest enemy. This movie has it all...sex, drugs, lesbianism...all the makings of a camp classic, delivered by campy cast which also included George Hamilton as an aging playboy, Melina Mercouri, as an aging lesbian movie star, and Brenda Vaccaro as a man-crazy magazine editor (Vaccaro actually received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress). It's not as funny as VALLEY OF THE DOLLS, but there are definite laughs to be fund here.
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The tacky '70s-era decadence is unavoidable...
moonspinner558 August 2017
Why are all these Jacqueline Susann soap operas--targeted, ostensibly, at frustrated women--directed by men? Guy Green helms this thing like a farmer driving along in his rusty tractor, and screenwriter Julius J. Epstein dispatches his characters with the careless pen of a hack talent only interested in collecting a paycheck. Deborah Raffin, a painfully-thin, vanilla-flavored virgin with flaxen hair, seems to be saving herself for her chummy papa (Kirk Douglas, looking a little embarrassed); when Dad marries tough cookie (and part-time lesbian) Alexis Smith, Raffin finds a hollowed-out older man to care for (David Janssen, also looking embarrassed). Horny magazine editor Brenda Vaccaro (who in real-life was dating Kirk's son, Michael) gets the best lines and received an Oscar nomination, but this sappy movie just doesn't move...it dawdles along looking an awful lot like a tacky magazine spread for old lady jewelry. When Epstein gets tired of a character (or two, as with Douglas and Smith), he throws in a plot-twist, unconcerned with the ridiculousness of the results. His facetious ending, accented by a cooing chorus, makes the whole thing seem like a pointless potboiler. ** from ****
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Goofy Soap Opera With Offensive Depictions Of Lesbian Characters
Jason Daniel Baker23 February 2017
Formerly influential Hollywood producer Mike Wayne (Douglas) dotes on his beautiful daughter January (Raffin) who is recovering in a Swiss clinic after a scandalous motorcycle accident caused by the leading man of his last movie.

She was thrown and hit the wall of a villa high-speed falling to the ground like strand of under cooked spaghetti. After three years of the best health-care money can buy she can the 'restart' button on her life after it went haywire.

With his finances strained Mike courts a wealthy lesbian Dee (Smith) evidently offering companionship and a beard of high society respectability. She accepts his hand in marriage asking only that he give up his career.

Tensions naturally erupt. January has a bad case of the Elektra Complex and resents her stepmother - angst which serves to make a facile dork like her seem less facile.

Dee, for her part, has a meticulous plan that January shall wed her cousin David (Hamilton) a womanizing cad and make a respectable man out of him polishing the standing of their not so noble house. Appearances are of the utmost importance to her even as, touched by love, she enjoys her Sapphic pair-bond with aging former movie actress Carla - her kept woman/girlfriend-on-retainer who happens to be a grade A creep i.e. a kindred spirit for Dee to snuggle with.

These are absurd characters who summarize their lives with a few lines of silly expositional dialogue that clue the viewer in on how vile they are and what nasty habits they have. Whilst failing to properly establish these characters the narrative introduces more of them including misanthrope writer Tom Colt (Janssen) who is clearly a thinly disguised but overly romanticized version of Norman Mailer. Running out of time the film fails to adequately conclude any of the arcs or backstories.

The gorgeous Deborah Raffin turned in some pretty appalling performances in her career. Doubtless her turn in this one was among the very worst any actress is capable of.

Creepy Greek actress Melina Mercouri who gave a pretty distracted performance in her own right can perhaps be forgiven. She had spent the previous seven years under numerous credible death threats for criticizing the military dictatorship of her home country.

Brenda Vaccaro received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress which she actually deserved for other work rather than the characterization she gave in this.

Depictions of lesbian characters in cinema have certainly evolved in the decades since this film was made. The way they are depicted in this film offer justification for complaints of negative stereotyping.
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Was hoping for something better
MissClassicTV28 December 2015
Ick. I missed this movie when it came out because my summer of 1975 was filled with the excitement of the Boston Red Sox and I paid attention to little else. Now that I've seen it, all I can say is, "Ick." January's unnatural adoration of her father left me feeling queasy. Well, it's probably not unnatural for a young girl to idolize her father. But it seems that her father encouraged it past the little girl stage right into adulthood. She keeps a picture of her father by her bedside and another on her desk. At one point, Tom says to her, "I think you're beautiful." Her answer is, "Thank you. I think you are too. Almost as beautiful as my father."

Mike Wayne (actor Kirk Douglas) is an overindulgent father. His character could have been complicated and interesting. Not here. Kirk Douglas's performance on screen is cringe-worthy. Deborah Raffin as his daughter January was boring. I don't know what's worse, icky or blah.

This was a bad movie until about an hour in when the character Tom Colt shows up. David Janssen is so good as Tom Colt that it's like he's acting in a different movie. He elevates this awful movie. I also enjoyed Brenda Vaccaro as Linda Riggs, January's best friend. She must have had a ball with that character – she plays it so enthusiastically and with such confidence. In comparison, Deborah Raffin as January Wayne was practically lifeless. It's just a bland, unintelligent performance, and she's the center of the movie, so she needed to be more interesting. She also had some awful lines and Raffin wasn't talented enough to make more of those lines. And she showed no emotion in her reactions to events. I neither liked nor disliked her. I felt nothing for her. So I couldn't feel sorry for her at the end.

Tom Colt turns out to be the most interesting character. He's earthy and macho. David Janssen gives this movie depth and the beautiful and funny Brenda Vaccaro gives it lightness. Both characters know who they are and are honest. And I cared about them. Everyone else either sleepwalks through this slow-moving movie or weighs it down with melodrama.

It's sad that 30 years after Casablanca (1942), the screenwriter of that classic film was asked to work on this. I don't think he was the right man for the job.
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Not trashy, just dull
Wizard-88 May 2014
Jacqueline Susanne was definitely one of the top trashy novelists of all time, so understandably there would probably be a lot of people who would think a cinematic adaptation of her novel "Once Is Not Enough" would be great trash. Unfortunately, that is not the case. How this movie got an "R" rating is beyond me; there is no on screen sex, very little dirty talk, and only one (brief) scene of nudity. What the movie is instead for the most part is a gabfest, endless talk that doesn't contain that much interest or titillation. Though there is a little interest in a movie that has the cast of actors that it has, the actors take things so seriously that there is no fun in watching their performances. However, if you've ever wanted to see David Janssen do a nude scene...
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Once was not enough; It took two viewings to remind me I had suffered through this before...
mark.waltz17 October 2013
Warning: Spoilers
It's amazing how forgettable some films can be, even with an "A" cast list like this one. I actually saw it about two years ago and half way through the film, realized that I had already sneered at it. You'd expect at least some camp from the writer of "Valley of the Dolls", and for this story of a Hollywood writer (Kirk Douglas) reminiscing about his life with his daughter (Deborah Raffin) and an ill-fated marriage, there was only a few moments to single out. Raffin's dull creature is named "January", which is appropriate considering her cold and frigid performance, even as an ingénue. Douglas, with one of the most hideous hairstyles since Donald Trump, tries to add some humanity to his boring character, and only sparkles in scenes with his Doris Duke/Barbara Hutton like wealthy wife (the marvelous Alexis Smith) who has an interesting secret of her own.

Brenda Vaccaro, in a showy Oscar Nominated performance, spends more time bemoaning her unattractiveness, yet is actually more desirable than the leading heroine, getting some really stinging dialog to deliver. Raffin is saddled in a strange relationship with the much older David Jansen, while George Hamilton, still "Mr. Tan" in 1975, and the great Melina Mercouri are totally wasted, although Mercouri stands out in a truly erotic scene that is the highlight of the film. I wanted to see so much more of Ms. Smith, then having just proved her talent by taking over Broadway in the diva role of the musical "Follies" and a short-lived revival of "The Women". Her secret is revealed after she takes a walk through one of New York's bigger department stores, having been dropped off by her chauffeur and heading out to catch a cab.

The ending is a total disappointment, pretty much coming out of nowhere and adding really no emotional value to the storyline. So now embedded in my memory, I can safely say that "Two times wasn't the charm" and I won't be paying any future visits to this artificial look at a group of mainly dull characters who give Ms. Susann's Neeley O'Hara and Helen Lawson anything to worry about.
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Putting the Jet Set Down
wes-connors1 April 2011
While nubile daughter Deborah Raffin (as January) recuperates from a motorcycle accident, "Academy Award"-winning movie producer Kirk Douglas (as Mike Wayne) marries super-wealthy Alexis Smith (as Deidre Milford Granger). This is because Mr. Douglas has fallen on hard times and wants to continue living a champagne caviar lifestyle, and Ms. Smith wants a backgammon partner. Smith is having an affair with reclusive movie queen Melina Mercouri (as Karla). Recovering beautifully, Ms. Raffin loses her virginity to stud cousin George Hamilton (as David Milford), who is also seeing Ms. Mercouri...

Raffin eventually falls in love with alcoholic writer David Janssen (as Tom Colt), after he fails to copulate with her best friend, promiscuous "Gloss" magazine editor Brenda Vaccaro (as Linda Riggs). Mr. Janssen thinks Douglas' film version of his "Pulitzer Prize"-winning novel was awful. Douglas disapproves, naturally, of his daughter's affair with Janssen...

The main theme of "Once Is Not Enough" appears to be the borderline incestuous love between Raffin and Douglas. Also, most of the couples have at least one bisexual partner; although there is no overt indication Janssen has any sexual interest in handsome astronaut Gary Conway (as Hugh Robertson), it's difficult to ascertain another reason for his inclusion in the storyline. Apparently, much was cut from Jacqueline Susann's best-selling novel. She and Irving Mansfield began by assembling good production values, but lost control as the story was turned into something hesitating and vacuous.

Some trashy fun remains.

***** Once Is Not Enough (6/18/75) Guy Green ~ Deborah Raffin, Kirk Douglas, David Janssen, Brenda Vaccaro
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Hot mess of a film
aj98931 May 2013
Once is Not Enough is a tepid screen version of a terribly trashy Jackie Susann novel. Kirk Douglas stars as an over the hill, broke movie producer, who, to maintain his opulent life style, has married one of the world's richest women, played by Alexis Smith, an overbearing snob, who enjoys nothing more than to orchestrate the lives of all those around her. His daughter (Deborah Raffin) is a beautiful, but prim and naive young woman (i.e. Virgin!) who detests her father's new bride. Her "daddy complex" is a primary theme that runs throughout the film. Rather than dating the hot young available astronaut, she instead chooses the brooding, middle aged and over bearing author - a man incidentally very much like her own father.

Besides the often hilarious camp nature of Once is Not Enough, the film has few redeeming features. The cinematography is terrible. Deborah Raffin is entirely uninteresting as the lead. Throughout most of her screen time, Raffin either giggles or stares blankly into the camera. The dialogue is abysmal and the story line has been done before and done much, much better. Despite all the talk of sex, very little actually occurs. I'm still not sure why Kirk Douglas agreed to do this film and for much of the film he seems confused as to why he is on screen as well. While the first 40 or so minutes are centered on his character, he disappears for most of the rest of the film. When he is on screen, he is loud and entirely over bearing, which sadly is a hallmark of his filmography from around this time.

Brenda Vacarro in her role as magazine editor and sex addict Linda Riggs, is the film's main highlight. Despite her character being written as a one note joke, Vacarro perseveres. She spits out most of her badly written lines as if they are actually worth something and she gives a full characterization of what is largely a poorly constructed out stereotype.
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The Title is a Lie....Seeing it Once Really Is Enough
Michael_Elliott5 November 2011
Once Is Not Enough (1975)

* (out of 4)

I really hope the all-star cast got a good chunk of change to bring Jacqueline Susann's trashy novel to the screen. A burned out movie producer (Kirk Douglas) marries a billionaire (Alexis Smith) so that his virgin daughter (Deborah Raffin) can lead a good life. The daughter, who has some weird thing for daddy, gets jealous and moves out on the advice of a girlfriend (Brenda Vaccaro) who just happens to be "easy". Soon the daughter is courted by a playboy (George Hamilton) but soon she finds herself falling in love with an alcoholic writer (David Janssen) who hates her father because he ruined one of his plays. Did you catch all of that? I'll be honest and admit that I've never read the novel that this is based on and I'll admit upfront that I'm not at all familiar with Susann's work other than the reputation that it's trashy. With an all-star cast it's nearly impossible to stay away from this film and while all of the actors give strong performances you still can't help but scratch your head and wonder why such a talented cast would want to be involved with a film like this. The entire thing is just downright bizarre and it never really makes too much sense. The entire incest relationship between Douglas and Raffin is just downright creepy and it gets even worse when the "friend" suggests to the daughter that she should ask daddy to sleep with her. I can understand a girl saying that her daddy is her best friend but this film takes that a tad bit too far. The two love affairs that the daughter has are just as silly and the amount of melodrama thrown in makes me wonder what adult in their right mind would buy into it. It seems like not even a naive teenager would believe anything going on here so who exactly this film was meant for is beyond me. Clocking in at 121-minutes, this film goes from slow to slower and it just keeps getting worse. There's not a bit of pacing going on and the film just seems to go off in one direction after another. We start off thinking the film is going to be about Douglas but then it skips to the daughter and we get countless other characters that come in and out. What really kills this film is that the entire group of characters are just ugly people and it's impossible to care for any of them. It's not that a viewer can't enjoy ugly characters but the ones here are just so fake, so idiotic and so boring that you don't want to care with them. The shocking thing is seeing the cast give it their all and turn in fine work. Vaccaro picked up a Golden Globe win and she was nominated for an Oscar and she clearly steals the film and beings the only energy to the picture. Raffin is believable as the confused young woman and both Douglas and Smith are good in their parts. The supporting cast is strong but it really doesn't matter because the story is just so stupid and worthless.
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Once Was Not Enough? Oh YES IT WAS!!
samiyam1 May 2006
I saw this because I like Kirk Douglas and have been looking for his most obscure titles to flesh out my catalog of viewing... This qualified as obscure so I rented it at the "we have everything" videostore. YUCH! This movie deserves to be obscure! The production was trite, the story stupid, most of the characters seem to have phoned this one in and Kirk looks silly trying to do his normal workmanlike job against this panoply of mediocrity. This one should have been burned. What can I say? Jaquiline Susan was an aberration of the seventies which we all look back upon with horror just as we look upon bell-bottom jeans and afro wigs as abortions of bad taste blocking up the world. This movie is unintentionally bad.
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Stupid but fun
preppy-319 July 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Stunningly stupid movie. Young and beautiful January Wayne (Deborah Raffin) is crushed when her widowed father Mike (Kirk Douglas) marries rich Deidre Granger (Alexis Smith). It turns out that January has a thing for her father and hooks up with another older man (David Janssen) who her father hates. It also turns out Deidre is a lesbian and having an affair with the mysterious Karla (Melina Mercouri).

OK Jacqueline Susann's book was hardly high art but it was a fun and trashy read. This movie sanitizes the book--all the sex is either cut out completely or off screen. Despite the R rating there's virtually no nudity--for some reason we only get to see Janssen's bare butt! Still it works. With the sole exception of Raffin the cast is very good. Douglas is OK; Smith looks gorgeous AND has fun with her role; Janssen is excellent in his part; Mercouri is only in one scene but she's fun and best of all is Brenda Vaccaro who was nominated for an Oscar here (!!!) as a sexually loose man-chaser. She grabs the movie, chews it up, spits it out and comes back for more! Her scenes are just great. Unfortunately Raffin is the lead here and she's beautiful--but lousy.

This film wasn't a hit and disappeared pretty quickly. Still, out of all the Jacqueline Susann adaptations, this is easily the best. Faint praise I know but it's true. Worth catching--if you can. I give it a 7.
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Once is Too Much
PretoriaDZ25 August 2009
This is a movie about a bunch of unattractive people, exhibiting behavior that is sometimes sleazy, sometimes insipid, but always boring. Deborah Raffin was the hottest thing in Hollywood when she got the lead in this movie. It is hard to understand why she was the flavor of the month from watching (or fast forwarding through) this movie.

If one reads Jacqueline Susann's biography, it is easy to see that a large portion of the plot for this movie was taken either from her life or from those she knew in Hollywood. These individuals thought that they were living the "glamorous life" when in reality they were superficial, grasping, amoral cretins who did not have a clue on how to lead a life worthwhile.
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Once was too much
eric-15015 December 2008
Ick. Everyone's rich. Everyone's decayed. Everyone's white. Everyone's horny. Everyone's drunk. The subplot of a young adult with sexual feelings for her dad made me uncomfortable, and not in a "last scene of North by Northwest" way either. Strangely, Kirk Douglas just goes through the motions. Alexis Smith contributes nothing more than if she'd been typing into Stephen Hawking's voice machine. David Janssen is still hoping his looks will divert people from finding out he can't act. Melina's kind of interesting. And George Hamilton is good at putting down the idle rich by just playing one of them. Other than that, a waste of time.
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* * out of 4
Bleeding-Skull15 December 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Mike Wayne (Kirk Douglas) is a past-his-prime movie producer who lives to make his college-age daughter January (Deborah Raffin) happy. January is also very fond of her father, perhaps more so than would seem healthy to the casual observer. Desperate to keep financing the good life for his daughter, Mike weds Deidre Granger (Alexis Smith), a wealthy bisexual who isn't about to give up her long-term relationship with Karla (Melina Mercouri). January finds herself pursued by suave playboy David Milford (George Hamilton), but she's more strongly attracted to Tom Colt (David Janssen), a middle-aged alcoholic novelist who reminds January of her father.

A well-made romance, with a few flaws. But you can use extreme caution with this one.

Rated R.
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Zero is enough
JasparLamarCrabb12 December 2010
Warning: Spoilers
SPOILER ALERT! A miserable movie. Talk about aiming low & missing. Director Guy Green (yes, the same man who directed A PATCH OF BLUE) helmed this dog based on a Jacqueline Susann novel and has made a genuine piece of junk. It's not even campy fun. Kirk Douglas is a washed up movie producer who marries wealthy Alexis Smith so he can secure a future for daughter Deborah Raffin. Raffin is set up with playboy George Hamilton but falls in love with older, hell-raising novelist David Janssen. One is left wondering why these two dullards were her only options. Clearly bent on finding a new daddy figure, Raffin becomes comically enraptured by Janssen. That should give you an idea of how preposterous (and boring) this thing is. Brenda Vaccaro appears as a sex mad magazine editor and seems to be acting in some other movie (a comedy perhaps). Douglas barely registers and Raffin, though fetching, is not exactly star material. Smith embarrasses herself with a really outré lesbian scene with Melina Mercouri (NOT looking her best). Presumably Paramount Pictures had an eye on this dreck's box-office potential as it's impossible to fathom any other reason to have committed this to film. On the plus side...you CAN jump to the film's ending to see a montage of all that transpired.
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A Fondness For This Trash
movies-1092 October 2010
Warning: Spoilers
There are some movies that just aren't good and I can't even recommend them, even if I like them in some strange way. I was 18 years old when I first saw this movie and David Janssen was an old man of 44. Now he looks like a young man of 44 since I'm coming rapidly up on 53! Anyway, not a lot to disagree with any of the critics. This is a boring film considering its subject matter, but hey, it was 1975. There are two things that stand out in the film that I remembered all these years. When Kirk Douglas drags Janssen out of bed and slugs him, the drywall cracking behind him, and the silent TV set dispensing the movie's climax while January is having an unrelated discussion with the Janssen character. I just finished watching a faded 16mm print of this movie, and realized quickly that it was a TV edit with all of the cussing gone, and even Janssen's butt. The cussing was the best part - especially Brenda Vaccaro's tirade at the end. But would I... bother to hunt down an uncensored VHS or DVD and sit through it again just to have the missing pieces? Probably not. Deborah Raffin is absolutely beautiful, she has 1990s supermodel skinny and complexion, which was a real rarity in the 1970s. Most of the time she's in sweaters and ankle-length skirts. There is one scene of her in bra and panties almost worth the whole movie, but blink and you'll miss it. But basically, the only likable character in the whole movie is Janssen, and he's a heavy-drinking grump. The thing that stands out about him is he's the only character who acknowledges what he is... he has some speck of self-honesty through the booze and the haze. The rest are shallow beyond even most 70s fare... even 70s TV fare. George Hamilton - maybe one of the first people ever to be famous for being famous - is in this movie, although blink and you'll miss him too. Brenda Vaccaro has a somewhat sympathetic role but in the end, she's a phony too. I can't imagine what possessed me to buy this 16mm print more than a decade ago, but it was the desire to keep my 16mm projector warm and make sure it still works that possessed me to drag it out this evening for my wife and I to enjoy. Enjoy for its campiness, a few good scenes. And if you have the 16mm its on three reels so you get two rewind/bathroom breaks! I think one of the reasons this film fails is because it's too serious. It has no laughs. In fact, when I saw it in the theater, the only time anybody in the whole place laughed was at the lesbian scene. And I laughed again because I remembered it just before it came along and was laughing just at the memory. Some things maybe are better off left in memory. For a movie supposedly about sex, it contains virtually none. And I guess that's why you can still get Cheri Caffaro movies on DVD newly remastered... but not this dull little gem. I'm being very kind to give it a 4 only because it was one of the first "adult" movies I ever saw. And because I have indeed suffered through far worse.
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