The Devil in Miss Jones (Gerard Damiano / U.S., 1973):

Between Dante’s purgatorio di luxuria and Bergman’s vacant inferno (The Devil’s Eye) lies the eponymous spinster, hungering for flesh in Gerard Damiano’s dirge for the spirals of desire. (Deep Throat, by contrast, was a fizzy limerick.) It opens with oppressive drabness, a slow zoom out from a rainy cityscape to a bare apartment where Miss Jones (Georgina Spelvin) contemplates her naked, sallow self one last time before settling in for bathwater and razors. The hereafter is a sort of rented cottage, a liminal drawing room into which the heroine wanders to learn that her wrist-slashing has scotched an otherwise spotless life. Facing damnation one way or the other, the virgin opts for "a life engulfed, consumed by lust"; the blandly bureaucratic gatekeeper (John Clemens) allows it, if only to break the monotony a bit. First up, deflowering with "the Teacher" (Harry Reems): "I’ve waited for you for so long," she murmurs, alone in the darkened frame with a rapidly rising cock in an unbroken take every bit as memorable as Linda Lovelace’s tonsils-ringing close-ups. The binge continues, leaving no orifice unturned yet always with undercurrents of emptiness and desperation (howling wind echoes through a Sapphic rubdown, a session of watery onanism appropriates Ennio Morricone’s fuzzy guitars). At the center is Spelvin, stark and humid, an exhausted chorine turned in a flash into a wondrous lewdling -- gliding from despair to ecstasy and back for the pitiless camera, she’s nothing less than a porno Falconetti. Damiano’s bluntly Sartrean epilogue, with the haggard protagonist diddling herself to a disinterested cellmate, gives a chilling vision of the relationship between spectacle and audience. Seeking pleasure in the dungeon of cinema, we’re left with Spelvin’s fervid, plaintive, withering cry: "Touch me, damn you, pleeeease!" With Marc Stevens, Levi Richards, Judith Hamilton, and Erica Havens.

--- Fernando F. Croce

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