THE DEVIL IN MISS JONES
Director: Gerard Damiano
Writer: Gerard Damiano
Starring: Georgina Spelvin, Harry Reems, John Clemens
1973 | United States | X | 62 mins
The history of cinema is an ever evolving entity that advances exponentially each decade in regards to style, substance, technology, and most of all taboo. In the fifties for example you were hard pressed to find graphic violence or nudity in mainstream cinemas, but with each turn of time barriers are shattered and what can be shown on screen begins to become more dangerous. In the late 60's/early 70's explicit sex became a staple on the silver screen, especially on the likes of seedy 42nd Street New York. But the thing that sets pornography apart from today and for what it was back then was the fact that it was legitimately an art form that was part of storytelling through cinema, and not just a sexual aid as the majority of it is today. You had actors committed to performance, an actual storyline, a 35mm print, and nation-wide theatrical exhibition. Now this doesn't make it art or cinema itself, but these were movies with something to say about their society just like Easy Rider or Catch-22, but they just happened to show sex - raw, explicit, and as it was.
Justine Jones (Georgina Spelvin) is a lonely spinster who is sick and tired of her drab and boring life. Going through a bout of depression, Miss Jones commits suicide by slitting her wrists in the bathtub. When she comes to she finds herself in a room where Mr. Abaca (John Clemens) explains to her she is dead and although she had lived a 'pure life' up until her death, the unfortunate act of suicide has condemned her to an eternity in Hell. Through this discussion Justine discovers there is a bit of a wait before her damnation actually begins and she strikes a deal with Mr. Abaca. Because she had lived a 'pure life', but is still condemned either way, she would like to use her waiting time to truly make up for the damnation by fulfilling her desires and living a life of lust.
The Devil in Miss Jones is a landmark film that draws a very fine line between pornography and the art house. Director Gerard Damiano followed up the most successful film of all time financially, the rather boring and dull Deep Throat, with a film that really delves into themes of moral decency, karma, sex, and the effects of our actions, and considering this is a porno, these actually come across rather cinematic and heavy which makes The Devil in Miss Jones a very important film. Georgina Spelvin is really terrific as Miss Jones, embodying that stark truth almost akin to those "moral crusaders" against pornography whom viewed sexuality as something wrong or dirty, but in actuality it's just part of being human. Harry Reems, also from Damiano's Deep Throat, returns as a sexual liberator in the role of The Teacher who frees Miss Jones from her sexual limbo.
The themes the film explores - suicide, death, sexuality, and consequences of action - are forefront to the story. Damiano's script manages to tackle these taboo and intellectual topics in its short 62-minute runtime amidst all the explicit sex, something of an enormous feat that most Hollywood films can't even come close to accomplishing in their two plus hour runtimes! The horrifying fact that Miss Jones, a woman who lived a wholesome life, is indeed damned by her final action is a truly horrific ideal that comes across effectively and haunting and without sympathy. And in the end, when time is finally up, a sexually freed Miss Jones is finally condemned to her own private Hell in a shocking and powerful climax that truly works to tell something that seems to go against the common perception of pornography - that there is a moral to the story! The Devil in Miss Jones is an unexpected cinematic masterpiece that is as haunting and thought provoking as it is titillating.
All contents copyright 2010 Tyler Baptist