Retro Porn Review – The Story of Joanna

June 1, 2014
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Following the roaring success of Deep Throat and The Devil in Miss Jones, Gerard Damiano returned in 1975 with his own adaptation of the classic French erotic novel The Story of O. Picking up where The Devil in Miss Jones left off, The Story of Joanna established Damiano as a competent filmmaker capable of delivering compelling erotic dark stories that rivaled his own unprecedented box office success.

This film is also notable for two pretty solid acting performances by both leads. Terri Hall plays Joanna, a naïve girl who’s picked up by Jason (Jamie Gillis) as they start a lovingly (at least on one side) sadomasochistic relationship.

http://youtu.be/J0LrZXCxqIs

Aesthetics and tension are both key elements of Damiano’s focus on this film. There’s not much of a story, in spite of the movie title, but instead it simply keeps building up on the degradation of Joanna and her unconditional love for her master. She’ll do whatever he says, no questions asked, regardless of how he treats her. There’s no “pain” to talk about, but “other ways of pleasure.”

Hall conveys her submissive role quite well, while also showing flashes of her character’s emotional frustration and exhaustion. Jamie Gillis plays the usual stylish, aristocratic father-figure character that he’s so good at. They also showed some good chemistry together.

Ah, and there’s even a nude ballet scene! No doubt a gratuitous way of taking advantage of Terri Hall’s extensive ballet background, but even if it doesn’t make much sense within the film and it’s slightly pretentious, it’s still a beautiful sequence, nicely photographed and musicalized.

You can’t talk about this movie without mentioning Zebedy Colt, who not only did a great job as the subdued butler, but also was in charge of the music. The Story of Joanna has one of the most impressive soundtracks on the genre; a consummate score that borrows from classical music but has a personality of its own. The adaptation of Albinoni’s ‘Adagio in G Minor’ was used to perfection.

http://youtu.be/0y46ObGCG3o

Two of the standout scenes from the movie include Colt, albeit more for their context than the sex itself. The first one with Terri Hall, in which they use a series of extreme close-ups that actually look nice and share a rare sweet moment in perhaps the only tender scene of the movie. The second scene is an even more surprising one, as we see Colt expertly deep-throating on Jamie Gillis after a massage. Gay scenes in straight porn are even rare nowadays, and significantly more racy back in the mid-70s. It’s almost as if Damiano was trying to shock uncomfortable heterosexual viewers by upping the ante on all the S&M stuff and taking a different route.

More than anything, The Story of Joanna is a movie about love, sadness and death. It’s surely not the best choice for a light masturbatory viewing, but if you’re looking for more than that, this is one of the best and heaviest adult films of all time.

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