Gerard Damiano directed two hardcore porn classics before directing this film - those being the influential Deep Throat and The Devil in Miss Jones, but for my money; The Story of Joanna blows them both out of the water and is the best and most erotic of the three. The film apparently takes influence from the classic French tale of sadomasochism 'The Story of O' and focuses on a strange relationship between two people. There isn't really a story to speak of as it's more just a premise from which the director springs all the sadomasochism and sex scenes. Basically, what we have is a rich aristocrat named Jason and his maid a submissive woman named Joanna. Their relationship begins in the aftermath of a meal in which Joanna proclaims that everybody needs to be loved, and Jason responds by bending her over a table and having his way with her. Jason then informs Joanna that despite her love for him, he will never love her back but still exposes her to all sorts of cruelty including bondage and sex with other lovers.
The film has a classical setting and it's almost like the director was spoofing the classic romance pictures as the mood, music and performances all adhere to a higher level than what is usually expected from a porn film. This is one of my favourite things about The Story of Joanna; it does feel very high quality and it bodes really well with the sadomasochistic sex scenes. Both the leads approach the film well and put in good performances. Terri Hall is absolutely beautiful and fits into the title role well and convinces as the submissive side of the central relationship. In contrast, Jamie Gillis is mysterious and brooding as the dominant partner which bodes well later on when the twist in the tale is revealed. The sex scenes are of course what most people will see the film for and the director clearly knows how to film something erotically as the sex in this movie is very good. It's also not overused and actually feels like the director is holding back on it at times; which is actually refreshing as porn with wall to wall sex can be a bit dull. Overall, this is a fantastic porn film and comes highly recommend; I'd rate it the second best S&M themed porn after the masterpiece The Punishment of Anne.
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