Thursday, September 30, 2010

Today we compact the 1971 film version of Jacqueline Susann's trash classic THE LOVE MACHINE

The indescribably tacky Moss Mabry fashion show that opens this movie version of Jacqueline Susann’s novel will have you laughing so hard, you’re bound to miss the first fifteen minutes of the plot. Thoughtfully, the filmmakers include a recap: In John Phillip Law’s penthouse, model Jodi Wexler shows the front page
of Variety to her caged bird, saying, “Look Chipper, after just six weeks with us, we’ve taken him from a lowly newscaster and made him President of IBC News.”

While Dionne Warwick sings “Your dreams will fade, and so will you” on the soundtrack, Law cheats on Wexler with every starlet who passes by, even as he fights programmer Jackie Cooper to improve the quality of TV. Cooper, standing in, no doubt, for talent-free novelist Jacqueline Susann as well as for the moviemakers, claims proudly, “When it comes to schlock, I’m a genius!”

It’s not Law’s notions of Hamlet that get him ahead, but his skills in the sack: while bedding Dyan Cannon, the wife of his boss Robert Ryan, the latter conveniently collapses from a heart attack (we suspect that he was watching the dailies), so Cannon names Law as his replacement. The envious Cooper remarks, “You’ve come a long way from the six o’clock news.” “That’s right,” Law says, “I’m in your field now — I’m a connoisseur of crap.” (Aren’t we all?)

There’s a price to pay, natch. When Law’s too busy for Wexler, she commits suicide. Law would be heartbroken, if only he could register any emotion on his immobile face. Since he can’t, he walks down to Times Square and hires a big, big hooker (Eve Bruce, listed in the credits as “Amazon Woman”!). When she calls him “a closet queen,” Law beats her senseless and hightails it to (believe it or not!) the pad of David Hemmings, the photographer who loves him. In exchange for giving him an alibi, Law agrees to buy Hemmings “a gold slave bracelet”inscribed anyway he likes. (And you thought it was easy being a love machine, didn’t you? The problems never end.)

When Cannon finds Law enjoying two naked babes in the shower, she sets fire to his bed. Realizing that she could torch his career, too, Law escorts Cannon to a party and then . . . blatantly ignores her. Why? Probably so that the outraged Cannon will steal Hemmings’s slave bracelet — to use as blackmail and stuff it down her bra. This leads to the movie’s crazed climax, a crockery-throwing, hand-biting, face-slapping melee over the buffet table, but three grown men — Law, Hemmings, and his actor boyfriend — are no match for Cannon. When Hemmings pulls her hair and Cannon cracks him over the head with an Oscar, it’s the closest anyone associated with The Love Machine ever got to such a statuette.

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