Three Daughters (1986) from Tuna

Three Daughters (1986) is a hard core sex film, a coming of age story, a tool used by many sex therapists as an example of normal, healthy sexuality and one of my ten favorite hard core films from the Golden and Classic eras.

My ten favorites, in no particular order, are:

Debbie Does Dallas (1978)
The Opening of Misty Beethoven (1976)
Behind the Green Door (1972)
Love You (1980)
Taboo (1981)
The Devil in Miss Jones (1973)
Three Daughters (1986)
Talk Dirty To Me (1980)
The Grafenberg Spot (1985)
Coffee, Tea or Me (1984)

The only one not available on DVD now is John Derek's Love You. Taboo, The Devil in Miss Jones, and Talk Dirty to Me all have good sequels. Of course, this list represents my personal taste, and they all have several things in common. I like some story with my celluloid boning, and they all have one. They plots are either sensitive or humorous, and are all respectful of women. Even Behind the Green Door, which, on the surface, is a kidnap and gang rape, actually plays to a common female fantasy, that of being helpless, and tenderly ravaged for hours. Which brings us back to Three Daughters.

In 1986, Candida Royale retired from performing in hard core films, and decided to make some of her own, but with a huge difference from the norm. She wanted to create hard core films that portrayed healthy consensual sex in a way that would serve as a positive role model, and appeal to women. In researching for the screenplay, she read a lot of women's erotica, and noticed that a frequent theme was the perfect first time, so that became the basis for her script. She eventually settled on a family with three daughters during Spring Break. The oldest is visiting from her great London job, and seeing her boyfriend, who has proposed. She is torn, as she loves him, but also loves her London job.

The second is a promising composer and pianist home from the music conservatory. Her parents worry because she seems to have no interest other than the piano, but she has been secretly having sex with her piano tutor. The last and youngest daughter is Heather, a High School senior, and still a gangly teenager, but becoming interested in sex.

First, Heather catches her sister and the tutor gong at it on the shag carpet (the pun was unintentional). That night, she pulls out her hidden stash of sex books and a hand mirror, and explores her privates, resulting in her first orgasm. The next day, she sees her sister trying on lingerie and getting ready for her boyfriend to visit. Heather promises to keep her secret from mom and dad, in exchange for permission to try some of the sexy under-things.  We see the sister with her fiancÚ, obviously in love, and engaging in more imaginative sex play, including tying each other up, doggy style, etc. The punch line for that scene is when he tells her he is willing to move to London to marry her, erasing her problem. This leads to a shower scene with Heather, where she fantasizes while she soaps her body.

The now engaged couple are to announce the wedding plans at dinner with her fiancÚ, the whole family, and one of the fiancÚ's friends, who was intended to get the middle daughter away from the piano. She, of course, is not interested, but young Heather is more than interested, and starts putting the moves on him. The next day, Heather invites her best friend, who graduated the previous year and is now a sexually active college student, for some girl talk. Her friend suggests that they practice sex, so Heather will know what to do when the time comes. The friend will play the boy.

Heather does succeed in attracting the guy, and they start dating. Eventually, she is ready to get intimate with him. Meanwhile, mom and dad find themselves alone in the house for the first time in 20 plus years, and take advantage of it having sex in the attic. Mom comments, it is great to be able to make noise again.

Heather's first time is everything Candida (and every woman) wanted it to be.

Candida cast the female roles first because that was the toughest part of the casting. She needed women who looked young enough that would be believable as sisters. She turned to her old friend, Gloria Leonard, to play the mom, and this was the last time Leonard did a hard core sex scene. The part of the pianist sister was played by a young Israeli law student, Nina Preta, who is probably practicing law somewhere in Israel now. The oldest sister was played by Annette Heinz, who only has a few other credits. Carol Cross, a fairly prolific porn actress, played the girlfriend. The crucial part of Heather went to Siobhan Hunter (pronounced sheh-bon, like chiffon, but b rather than f).

Siobhan had a huge porn career, and has more acting ability than the rest of the cast combined. She nailed the transformation from girl to woman, and the climactic first sex scene was amazing. Part of the reason for the believable sex scenes was that Candida ask the actresses whom they would like to work with, thus each of the cast was having sex with someone they actually wanted to have sex with. When they were ready to shoot the final sex scene, Siobhan broke into tears. It seems that her real first time was not a good experience. In fact, it was a near rape, and happened in a room the same color as the one they were shooting in. Candida convinced her to use this scene as a way to relive her first time, substituting good memories for the bad ones. When the scene was over, Siobhan was actually crying from happiness, and the entire crew was silent and frozen in place, not believing the honesty and power of what they had just filmed.

Candida didn't use any monster shots (genital closeups) or money shots (cumming outside). She showed either full bodies, or head shots to catch the expressions. This has been far and away her most successful film for sales, and has earned her a position as a sexuality researcher. She is frequently used as a guest lecturer, and this film is often prescribed by sex therapists. IMDb readers have it at 7.0. which is unusually high for a hard core sex film. This was an era when the porn industry was moving closer to real films. Unfortunately, it takes performers who can do more than bone, a real budget, and more than a two hour shooting schedule to make a real film, and the money is there for the gonzo boning material they are churning out now. Some recent indies, however, are including some hard core scenes in real films, which is encouraging. My hope is that we will finally get a great film, that also includes some great sex scenes. By our system, a hard core film can be more than a C+, but this one comes very close.

Scoop's notes:

The Holy Grail - a hard core film that would actually be a terrific movie if they snipped the sex scenes and played it in multiplexes.


It's a porn film. See the main commentary.

It's very tough to do because hard core films, by their very nature, have real sex, and real sex is too slow for the movies. You can't just stop all dramatic movement for 15 minutes to isolate your characters on a bed, with nothing happening. When that happens, you no longer have a real movie, but a sex flick.

I guess there could be a work-around, but porno people are generally not that clever. The question is this - how can you show an entire sex act in a minute or two, and still make it believable for the characters in their context?  No reason why not. We don't have to see every thrust of the sex act, although porn etiquette seems to say that we have to see sex in real time. To hell with that convention. Real time sucks. That's why I don't watch porn. Not because I'm offended, but because I'm bored! Alternatively, perhaps you CAN show a long sex act and have the plot moving forward at the same time? How? I don't know, but I know it can be done, because Basic Instinct came pretty close. If it had actually shown penetration or oral sex, but kept the sex scenes to their existing length, it would still have been the same movie with the same dramatic tension, and would have been both a mainstream hit and a porn flick. Hell, the scene with Tripplehorn is practically a porn scene as it is, except the director cut away every time we were about to see the ol' jackhammer at work.

DVD info not currently available

Yes, it could have worked in that case.

But I'll believe it when I see it.

The Critics Vote ...

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The People Vote ...

The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, this is a C+. Top of the genre.

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