April 16, 2006

HARDCORE CLASIXXX - THE DEVIL IN MISS JONES (1973) - REVIEW 11



Gerard Damiano had a successful experience in 1972 with his hardcore box office smash ‘Deep Throat’. Hot on its’ heels was ‘The Devil in Miss Jones’in 1973.

A sinisterly overtoned hardcore feature film about sexual liberation at a price, Justine Jones (played superbly by Georgina Spelvin) is condemned to hell as a prim, frustrated and generally quite sad character to become a transformed libertine with voracious libido.

D.M.J could be considered as a retelling of Sartre’s 1943 prize winner ‘No Exit’. It focuses’ like Sartre on the sexually charged, trapped in hell, in a room with the sexually incapable.

PLOT

Justine Jones is an unhappy women, she is in sheer turmoil and is trapped in a loveless marriage where she is totally unfulfilled by her husband.

A manic depressive, Justine takes the razor blade to her wrists and leaves this dimension…..

When she takes her life she finds she is transported to a sort of limbo where it is decided whether Miss. Jones should go to heaven or hell. As she committed suicide it is decided she must go to hell but has time to experience all that she has been deprived of before she slit her wrists. With the deadly sins offered by Satan , Miss Jones opts for lust.

As part of her liberation to become the ‘woman’ she had always dreamed of being; she encounters several vignettes where her sexual senses are pushed to their optimum.

She is introduced to ‘The Teacher’ this hirsute icon of 70’s stereotyped pornography (Harry Reems) educates Justine the art of oral and vaginal stimulation, whipping Justine into sheer orgasmic frenzy.

He further assists her experience by exploring the forbidden territory of pleasure and pain.

She finds the joys of experiencing a same sex encounter, using a bottle of baby oil and a plastic lilo.

Justine explores an array of stimulus on her journey as well, from the warm jet of a bath hose exploring intimately to the sensual frenzied tickle of a pythons tongue.

Ultimately she takes on two guys in a wonderfully passionate ménage a trois that is quite possibly one of the hottest pieces of delightful carnal rough one could be privy too on seldom occasions.

Despite these powerfully sexual lessons in love, there is a price to pay as Justine discovers that her experiment with lust is mocked for eternity. ….

CRITIC

No wonder this is referred to as one of the best examples of Hardcores’ ‘Belle Époque’ in ‘70’s American hardcore boom. This, Deep Throat, Behind the Green Door and Resurrection of Eve were the figureheads on the porno ship sailing towards what would become a highly lucrative industry.

Hardcore went mainstream and became all the better for it, the age of the stag movie or loop was no more. 15 minute wank aids usually playing in semen and disinfectant smelling booths were now replaced by sex epics of over an hour in length in comfortable theatre houses.

The dawning of a highly liberalised U.S.A had started and opened the floodgates to a whole new genre of movie. What was once thought of as a dirty, grubby, genre exclusively for perverts and sexually unsuccessful middle aged business men was now tainting mainstream culture.

Films such as Deep Throat and DMJ were on everyone’s lips, whether they had seen it or not, and became the focus on many smutty puns, the actors and actresses bathed in the limelight as they went from underground oddities to household names. The age of porno chic arrived as Hollywood spawned a slightly less ‘wholesome’ relative.

Many of these films piloted the ‘shoestring’ budget way of directing and production. This is a nod towards the underground way films are made today.

More times than enough do we come across skin flicks directed by stalwarts of sleaze in other areas. Abel Ferrara had a go, Doris Wishman, Radley Metzger and a host of directors under varying skill sets often dabbled in things bump and grind.

The first thing I noticed about DMJ in comparison to its’ ‘sisters’ was the films lack of humour and concentration more on the melancholy. It has a dark, brooding, ephemeral atmosphere.

Deep Throat was more comical in its’ approach and was presented as (and is) a whole lot of fun. Behind The Green Door also, despite a dark ‘sex show’ instalment, was infinitely much, much lighter.


Credit where credits due, Georgina Spelvin is knock-out and plays the character with such gusto that one can really feel sympathy for her. The sex sequences are also a revelation in Spelvins’ acting/performing capabilities. She has such an amazing time, it’s as though Spelvin doesn’t care whether she is being filmed fucked or not. She really throws herself into the part; she is living the character of ‘Justine Jones’ as opposed to just acting it; clearly evident from her performance.

Spelvin was pure serendipity for director Damiano, she was initially cast as the movies cook, when Damiano saw her he made her his leading lady. Spelvin also strikes an uncanny likeness to famous actress Shirley Maclaine , it is also known Spelvin actually ‘doubled’ for the actress on some occasions.

Her interaction with Harry Reems’ ‘Teacher’ character makes a totally compelling experience to view as both seem more than capable of acting in a porno as well as they could in ‘clothed’ performances (Harry Reems did and turns up in the daft rape and delirium scream fest ‘Demented’ (1978) and we mustn’t forget his other ‘soft-core’ romp with a post-op virgin in ‘Let Me Die a Woman’ which takes us back to 1971.

Much praise can be said for Damianos’ directing skill, he was also known to have edited the suicide scene in the video for ‘Simon and Garfunkels ‘Bridge over Troubled Water’.

Due to this connection Damiano asked if the song could appear on the soundtrack during Justine’s suicide sequence. This never surfaced and although it is an excellent composition would’ve spoiled the ‘flow’ of the film score.

Another dazzling aspect of this amorous showcase has to be Alden Shumans knock out soundtrack. Shuman blends simple piano with built up violin concerto to compliment the onscreen ‘odyssey’ of our protagonist.

Whether you want to witness the acrobatic skills of Justine or not; the soundtrack is worth listening to on its own merit. Shuman seems to have encapsulated the sound of dark sexual initiation.

Some of his compositions are simply exquisite and ‘lift’ the screenplay from moments of dark forebode. This is a perfect balance of ‘light’ and ‘dark’ and perfect audio accompaniment for the visuals.

If you want to cut your teeth on a prime example of hardcores’ ‘golden age’ you couldn’t go too wrong with this picture.

Along with ‘The Opening of Misty Beethoven’ (1975), ‘Through the Looking Glass’ (1977),’Femmes de Sade’ (1977) and numerous other titles, far to many too mention, this is up there as one shining example amongst the all time adult greats.

MOST OUTSTANDING MOMENT

Justine Jones, one python and one bowl of fruit. An eloquently filmed sequence, slightly bizarre - a Damiano 'quirk' that cropped up at times in his 'style' of pornographic art but always very sensual and rarely cumbersome.

The film; The Devil in Miss Jones

The Year; 1972

The Players;

Georgina Spelvin (Justine Jones)

John Clemens (Abaca)

Harry Reems (The Teacher)

Marc Stevens (Ménage a trois Scene)

Levi Richards (Ménage a trois Scene)

Judith Hamilton (Sapphic Scene)

Erica Havens (Sparring Partner)

Gerard Damiano (Man in Cell)

The Country; USA

The Director; Gerard Damiano

Available; R18 U.K Reg. 2 DVD uncut (vhs transfer) / Region 1 VCX DVD (uncut)

The Music; Alden Shuman

My relations are; Devil in Miss Jones pt.2 (1982), Deep Throat (1972), Behind the Green Door (1972), Opening of Misty Beethoven

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