Gerard Damiano could've easily claimed the title of most-successful adult director in history with his trend-setting blockbuster hit Deep Throat but he went on to create a few more erotic masterpieces afterword before finally disappearing into the anonymous fog of video pornographers whose films were probably a little more "gonzo" and far less intelligent. Damiano's films possess qualities which have always been lacking in the adult arena: good direction and an interesting story. While DMJ didn't pop-off at the box office like Deep Throat, it's still a worthwhile example of Damiano's cinematic mastery.
Justine Jones (Georgina Spelvin) is a lonely, aging woman who decides to end it all and slit her wrists in the bathtub. The very next scene finds her sitting before the desk of an afterlife mediator, Abaca (John Clemens) who informs her that this final suicidal transgression was enough to keep her from heaven but she never did anything in life which would warrant hell. The mediator reluctantly agrees to allow her to take part in enough lustful activities to properly justify banishment.
After a solemn discussion in a grassy field with her mediator, Jones engages in a few finals acts of satisfaction. She and another woman satisfy a man. Two men create a special "human sandwich" between Miss Jones. Finally her time is up and she is confined to a small white room with a strange-looking guy (Director Damiano!) who imagines that he can hear flies buzzing around. "Just make me come!" she pleads as she manipulates herself, but the guy continues staring into thin air, waiting for the fly. And so they remain, for eternity.
DMJ is definitely a more polished production than most porno of the day, with solid performances by Spelvin, Clemens and Reems which would fit perfectly in a straight dramatic piece. Damiano himself even manages to pull off a great cameo as Spelvin's eerie companion in the Jean-Paul Satre / No Exit-style netherworld.
Spelvin may not be a beautiful woman, but does everyone in an adult film always have to be knock-out? Ultimately Spelvin works because she can really act , i.e. make an emotional connection with the audience and take us through all the emotions which she experiences. Therein lies the genius of Damiano, a man who had the guts to treat adult films as actual films. Most adult filmmakers shoot their movies like peep shows: wide angle, real-time bores with extra emphasis on the "pay-off." Gerard shoots primarily in close-up like any other good director would, emphasizing the emotional thrust of a particular scene. His films are well-edited; not every sexual act has to end, begin or follow any linear structure. It's not a stunt or a game, as tends to be the case with pornography both old and new. It's an extreme, involving experience.
It's easy to see why this film did didn't reach the dizzying heights of Deep Throat. There's very few "standard" sexual activities and only a few short scenes of traditional penetration. There's also a sense of melancholy throughout the entire film; if the opening suicide wasn't enough, even when Spelvin is at the height of passion there is a sense that she's trying to go as far as her deprived consciousness will take her; she engages in constant dialogue with her lovers, trying to control, manipulate, plan these precious moments; "No! Not Yet! I don't want to come yet!" There's a sense of desperation throughout the film and the ending is downright eerie. But who ever said that pornographic film can't be disturbing or raise serious issues about society and human sexuality? The message of DMJ is that we all need to free ourselves from our own emotional purgatory and come to terms with our own sexual identities as rational adults. It may sound like a dated message but in these repressed times it's still as timely and important then ever.
Whether it be nostalgia for better times or simply a lack of new films which are actually palatable, many adult video companies have become interested in re-releasing their classic films on DVD. Unfortunately, most of the time the final product is mastered from 20-year-old video copies and many of the films have been edited to remove scenes which are unfit for the current legal climate. Such is the case with VCX's DVD of DMJ. The grainy, washed-out video image seems slightly cropped on all sides (the opening and ending credits are letterboxed slightly). There are also a few nasty drop-outs which populate this problematic transfer. The mono audio doesn't fair much better, but at least it's clean track with little distortion.
The most painful element of the release is the slight editing of one particular scene in which Jones penetrates herself with a banana; it seems as if part of the scene was cut out, with the surrounding video slowed-down in order to keep the soundtrack in sync with the picture. Despite this silly bit of bowdlerization, the film itself remains a classic. A classic which needs a proper restoration as bad Miss Jones needs to get laid.
1975, 74 min.
Directed by Gerard Damiano VCX / Reg. 0 NTSC DVD
1.33:1 / DD Mono / $29.99