The Devil in Miss Jones Jul 30, 2015 15:50:14 GMT -5
Post by StevePulaski on Jul 30, 2015 15:50:14 GMT -5
The Devil in Miss Jones (1973)
Directed by: Gerard Damiano
Directed by: Gerard Damiano
One can hardly talk about America's Golden Age of Porn and not mention Gerard Damiano, arguably the most influential director of the period alongside Radley Metzger. Damiano really helped kickstart the possibilities of pornography in America with Deep Throat in 1972, solidifying the wealth of humor, dialog, and eroticism that could all be simultaneously conveyed and explored rather than just relying on the strengths of one or another. Deep Throat, despite trailing Mona: the Virgin Nymph, the first theatrically released pornographic film in America, by two years, went on to become one of the most successful and well-known pornographic films ever made and its cult-following, in addition to the strength of the humor in the film itself, still carry with it today.
Following up such a monstrous success narratively and commercially would be a struggle for many, but judging by the level of confidence The Devil in Miss Jones carries itself, largely in terms of the storyline and the way the actors handle themselves, it seems that Damiano, once again, had a clear idea and vision of what he was doing with this film. The story concerns Justine Jones (Georgina Spelvin), a lonely and depressed older woman, unmarried and severely lacking any excitement in her life. One day, whilst in the bathtub, Jones comes to the consensus that the only solution to her sorely lacking existence is suicide just before slitting hit wrists and subsequently dying in the water.
Miss Jones awakes in purgatory, where she meets an angel by the name of Abaca (John Clemens). Although Miss Jones has lived a life of purity and solace, her suicide prevents her entrance into Heaven. Frustrated that this one fact prevents her from entering the pearly gates, Miss Jones convinces Abaca to let her at least "earn" her place in Hell by returning to Earth to embody the sin of lust. Abaca accepts this plea, begrudgingly so, and what entails is Miss Jones' new life of immediate sexual gratification, as she engages in sexual intercourse with everyone from a sexual teacher (Harry Reems), who shows her the excitement pain and pleasure can have to a filthy threesome with two men.
The Devil in Miss Jones may be an even filthier film than Deep Throat, but that is no bother, seeing as, just as with a Metzger film, the strengths come from not just the eroticism but the delicate balance of storytelling, approach, and cinematography. To begin with, Damiano captures the film in a low-lit manner, very akin to the kind of cinematographical style we frequently see in erotic thrillers. Furthermore, the film doesn't cop out at the consistent sex scenes (though the film practically feels like one long, forty minute sex scene following its tame twenty minutes of "suspense"), adding a real layer of contemplative ideas to a film that could've otherwise been entirely vapid. The idea of willingly want to enter Hell and working to have yourself epitomize the idea of lust in the most graphic way possible is an intriguing, almost existential idea that one would expect an epic to take on rather than a low-rent, 1970's pornographic film.
The sex in the film is also very erotic, capitalizing on a certain rawness and intimacy that is achieved through the aforementioned cinematography and repeated closeups of the intercourse taking place. Spelvin is both an energetic performer and a capable actor and she conveys her character's desperation and subsequent sexual drive very convincingly, especially during the spine-tingling final sequence, which has the ability to evoke arousal and sadness.
And that, dear reader, is the key here. In just two months of taking one day out of my schedule to examine a pornographic film of yesteryear, I've seen ideas such as incest, loneliness, rejection, and allegory examined in films where I'm sure few people expect it. The grand idea behind The Golden Age of Porn is how underestimated it was up until that point; desperately few people likely held the belief that pornography could be something that was both meaningful and erotic at the same time. It was a perceived duality that would come at the sacrifice of at least one of those features. With that, The Devil in Miss Jones - which, in and of itself, is a film of many dualities that shouldn't work as well together as they do - would be a film similar to Metzger's Behind the Green Door in that it would be a film you'd go into not expecting much other than a scuzzy porno and emerge with at least some sense of shock as to what you have just seen.
Starring: Georgina Spelvin, John Clemens, and Harry Reems. Directed by: Gerard Damiano.