Harold Robbins’ book The Lonely Lady is dedicated to Jacqueline Susann, who created the greatest written ode to little red pills ever, Valley of the Dolls. She had been inspired by Robbins and how he wrote, added in her crazed ability self promote and became a star. The book was his tarted up version of how he saw her life.
I discovered that book hidden on my parents shelf in the 1980’s and was amazed by it. How did they fit so much sex and depravity between its pages? And when I learned that HBO would be showing the movie adaption at 4 AM, well, look out!
Jerilee Randall (Pia fucking Zadora!) is an innocent waif living in the San Fernando Valley with a dream of being a screenwriter and a trophy for creative writing. Then, she meets Walter Thornton (Mr. No Legs, Crystal Heart), a famous screenwriter. She’s kind of, sort of is dating his son, but she slowly falls in love with him. But before all that, Ray Liotta rapes her with a garden hose.
You know how they say that you need to take a shower after some movies? You need to continually shower during The Lonely Lady. In fact, I would recommend putting your TV in the hallway and watching the film from the shower.
Walter and Jerilee marry, despite the protests of her mom. He gets her a job as an on-set writer, but when the one word she adds to his script (WHY!?!) improves the film, their marriage starts to fail. His penis has already failed, as he’s unable to satisfy his wife. Also: his chest hair is like a perilous thatch of salt and pepper steel wool.
Walter accuses her of enjoying the rape with a garden hose and that’s the end of their marriage (well, they stay married, but she leaves). Jerilee starts sleeping her way through Hollywood, including getting pregnant by George Ballantine (Jared Martin from Fulci’s Warriors of the Year 2072!) and then getting an abortion before falling for a nightclub owner. He lies to her all along the way, until she finds him having sex with two other women. Lost and hopelessly addicted to pills, she has a nervous breakdown in a bravura sequence.
Every single agent that Jerilee meets with wants to fuck her. Seriously, every single one. Well, I take that back. Some of them want her to sleep with their wives. Even a woman tries to take advantage of her.
Finally, Jerilee’s script is produced — and it has to star George Ballantine — but it wins a major award that is not an Oscar. Perhaps it’s the best screenplay at the legendary Hollywood Awards?
Jerilee goes off during her speech, admitting to her ex-husband that she never learned anything about self-respect and that she’s fucked her way to the top. She refuses the award and walks out with dignity to the strains of her theme song. That’s not as good as the book, which ends with her tearing off her clothes to reveal the Oscar painting upside down with his head resting inside her pubic hair.
Want to see the whole movie in a montage? Here you go…
Meshulam Rikls, Pia Zadora’s billionaire husband, spent $5 million to get this made and spent several million more for Universal Pictures to release it in the U.S. But you gotta give it to Pia — despite half of the audience being voters for the Razzie Awards who laughed throughout the film — she showed up and stayed for autographs in the lobby. I would have been right there in line, ready with a supportive hug if she needed it!
“If you watch one film where a guy shoots billiard balls at a woman’s vagina” is a horrible slug line for a poster. But it’s the one that I wrote for The Lonely Lady. And who else but Shout! Factory would put this out on blu-ray, complete with a new Pia Zadora interview?
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