2.5 Stars
Year Released: 2004
MPAA Rating: NC-17
Running Time: 92 minutes
Click to Expand Credits:

Few films in recent memory have had the cultural impact of “Deep Throat,” which chronicled the pornographic adventures of a woman with the peculiar medical condition of having her clitoris located in her throat. Made for $25,000, “Deep Throat” went on to gross over $600 million and is considered the most profitable film ever made.

Its cultural impact went far beyond the financial, however. “Deep Throat” debuted in 1972, at the height of the sexual revolution, and gained mainstream popularity of the likes never before imagined for an X-rated film. Attracting celebrities and middle-class types instead of the usual crowd of trenchcoat clad perverts, the movie became a touchstone for most Americans at the time. Naturally, not everyone was titillated/amused by the film. 1972 was also the height of the Nixon era, and the forces of decency soon mobilized to move against the distributors and exhibitors of such “filth.” It is against this backdrop that the documentary “Inside Deep Throat,” the latest film from Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato, takes place.

The film opens with the expected rehash of 1970s archival footage and interviews with personalities like John Waters and Erica Jong, who recall their reactions to the film. Predictably, almost everyone recalls how “liberating” it was for such a film to be released. The dissenters, most notably S&L criminal Charles Keating, lament the continuing deleterious effect the film has had on American morality.

Most interesting, however, are new interviews with director Gerard Damiano and star Harry Reems. Neither were paid much, if at all (Reems made $250, Damiano was never paid) for their work on the film. Star Linda Lovelace made slightly more, but went on to criticize the film and her treatment in it in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. Such territory, as well as interviews with feminist personalities such as Gloria Steinem and Susan Brownmiller, is already well-covered, however. If “Inside Deep Throat” sheds light on anything, it’s the connections between the adult film industry and the Mob, and the naïveté demonstrated by the filmmakers in regarding their creation as “art” versus the obvious financial motives of the distributors.

More light is shed on the 1975 obscenity trial of Reems, widely regarded as the first flexing of the religious right’s censorship muscles. Reems, in a story all too familiar for its kind, descended into alcoholism following his conviction (eventually overturned by a district court), though he is now clean and sober. Director Damiano is retired and living in Florida, while Lovelace died in 2002 after becoming the poster girl for the feminist anti-pornography movement of the late ‘70s and, eventually, capitalizing on her earlier success with pictorials in low-rent skin mags. Lovelace’s story is really the most depressing to come out of the “Deep Throat” saga, but little time is given her or her ordeal at the hands of husband Chuck Trainor (Lovelace’s sister alludes to his behavior, but little else).

“Inside Deep Throat” is well-crafted and, in places, highly informative, but with the exception of some of the original film’s hardcore sex scenes and the aforementioned Mob angle, there’s little we haven’t been exposed to before (no pun intended). And while “Deep Throat’s” influence on modern sexual mores and the entertainment industry can’t be denied, much of the ground has been traveled many times before.

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Posted on February 13, 2005 in Reviews by

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