Inside Deep Throat

Inside Deep Throat

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As with Bill Condon’s Kinsey, Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato’s Inside Deep Throat proves that the sexual revolution that began in the ‘60s was spearheaded not only by daring risk-takers who believed in personal freedom and sexual openness, but also by creeps who had no qualms about cavorting with lowlifes and degenerates to accomplish their libido-liberating goals. While noted sex researcher Alfred Kinsey had little hesitation interviewing and studying pedophiles, Deep Throat director Gerard Damiano willingly accepted (despite his personal denials) financial backing and distribution services from organized crime. The difference, however, was that Kinsey—via his groundbreaking Sexual Behavior in the Human Male—dealt with such cretins so that he might actively overturn Americans’ ignorant, intolerant attitudes about male-female relations; as production manager Ron Wertheim notes, Damiano’s primary goal in making his seminal 1972 porn flick was to get laid.

The disconnect between Deep Throat‘s intended purpose—to be a comedy film with hardcore sex—and its inadvertently prominent role in the sexual revolution, its status as the focal point for moral crusaders’ campaign against “obscene” material, and the instigating force for today’s multibillion dollar adult video business isn’t lost on Bailey and Barbato, who nicely juxtapose the meager aspirations of the filmmakers with the considerable consequences of their pet project (which Damiano himself admits, in archival footage, is not very good). All too often, however, their documentary’s stabs at inflating Deep Throat‘s reputation as an instrument of taboo-smashing change is undermined by its sound bite-ready participants’ more juvenile and unwarranted interest in discussing a notorious sex film as if it were Citizen Kane (or even Playboy magazine). The filmmakers’ attempts to link Deep Throat‘s lasting impact to every sexually charged facet of contemporary American life—including Britney Spears, briefly glimpsed amid snippets of risqué advertisements—reaches too far, and its mournful discussion of porn’s evolution from (supposed) rebellious artistic experimentation to impersonal moneymaking juggernaut seems humorlessly photocopied from Boogie Nights.

Narrated by Dennis Hopper and featuring (among others) Gore Vidal, Erica Jong, Camille Paglia, Hugh Hefner, Norman Mailer, and those involved with making Deep Throat waxing nostalgic about the film, Bailey and Barbato’s doc uses cheeky montages to recount the film’s unlikely path to infamy, from its smashing box office success (“the most profitable film in motion picture history”) and star-making performance by Linda Lovelace (who later turned her back on the movie) to its larger ramifications as an early forerunner of cinema—and society’s—infatuation with graphic sex. Particularly compelling is the story of star Harry Reems, who unjustly became the scapegoat for the film’s alleged indecency when convicted on obscenity charges (which were eventually overturned). Yet Inside Deep Throat‘s most gripping moments involve fire and brimstone-spewing Deep Throat opponents such as prosecutor Larry Parrish, whose heartfelt wish that Muslim terrorists stop pestering America so attention can once again be directed at combating X-rated entertainment’s “prostitutes and whoremongers” chillingly reconfirms many Christian conservatives’ desire to police morality.

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DVD | Soundtrack
Distributor
Universal Pictures
Runtime
92 min
Rating
NC-17
Year
2005
Director
Fenton Bailey, Randy Barbato
Screenwriter
Fenton Bailey, Randy Barbato
Cast
Dennis Hopper, Erica Jong, Norman Mailer, Harry Reems, Gore Vidal, John Waters, Camille Paglia, Hugh Hefner