Sunday, October 4, 2009

Pornonomy Reviews: 3 AM

3 AM (1975 - Metro)

Directed by:
Robert McCallum
Clair Dia
Georgina Spelvin
Judith Hamilton
Rhonda Gallard
Sharon Thorpe
Robert Rose (as Bob Rose)
Charles Hooper
Frank Mauro

Since I seem to reference it constantly, I might as well review it....

3 AM is the story of a lonely woman, Kate (Georgina Spelvin), who lives with her sister Elaine (Rhonda Gallard) and her family. In addition to living in their house, she's, whoops, having an affair with her brother in law, Mark (Frank Mauro), and, whoops again, kills him by braining him with a champagne bottle on a boat and dumping him overboard.

The film opens with Mark and Elaine having sex while narration by Kate introduces the viewer to the characters and the fact that Kate and Mark have been having an affair for 15 years. Further, Kate says that the affair is justified by her loneliness; a loneliness that also justifies having had sex with women, including (whoops a third time) her niece, Stacy (Claire Dia). Whether they do or not, you're led to believe that Stacy and her brother Ronnie (Charles Hooper) can hear their parents having sex (Kate's narration confirms she can hear them), lending an uncomfortable incestuous undertone that resurfaces later, during scenes between Stacy and Kate and then between Stacy and Ronnie. (Though, in those cases, the "undertones" are very much "overtones"....)

Georgina Spelvin's performances often tend to skew to the melodramatic, but she is an exceptional actress (by porn standards, at least) and in 3 AM, her performance is a little more subdued and perfect for the tone. In fact, whether by chance or directorial choice, most of the characters seem to speak with the same "voice" that lends 3 AM a stylistic cohesion not expected in porn.

The film is a solid example of American cinema in the '70s (not just porn, but film generally). It's slowly paced, challengingly themed (in addition to incest and murder, there's fantasy, guilt, voyeurism, innocence and loss thereof...), and masterfully shot - I think you'd be hard pressed to find a porn better directed, technically, than 3 AM. Add a too true to be coincidental allusion to "The Awakening" to everything 3 AM's already got working for it and you've got a "serious" porn as well-realized and stylish as The Devil in Miss Jones (original, of course). A


  1. It's really freshing to see someone reviewing porn in a serious, considered way, and giving respect where respect is often due.

    I agree with your feelings about 3AM. It's an excellent film.

  2. A friend recently told me this is the most depressing porn movie ever made. He also thought it was fantastic. I will definitely check this out.