Friday, March 15, 2013

INSIDE DEEP THROAT

Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato, 2005

It is almost inconceivable that someone would read this blog and not know about
Deep Throat. Part of the heyday of '70s porn, Deep Throat resides alongside The Devil in Miss Jones, Beyond the Green Door, The Opening of Misty Beethoven, Debbie Does Dallas and Emmanuelle as some of the most famous porn films in history. In addition, most of these brought porn into normative American culture and created (though Deep Throat alone takes credit for this term) 'porn chic.'

I love '70s porn. It has an optimistic, creative, exploratory and almost naive spirit that contemporary porn completely lacks, as well as an exaggerated sense of style. Mostly, the "industry" wasn't anything like the money making machine American porn is today and was made up of legitimate actors and directors trying to break into mainstream film and have fun at the same time.
Deep Throat is one of the exemplary films of the period. Inside Deep Throat is the story of its genesis, theatrical run, public reception, censorship trials, and aftermath.

It was written, produced and directed by Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato, the team behind
Party Monster (1998, the documentary) and Party Monster (2003, the theatrical film). Inside Deep Throat is narrated by the late, great Dennis Hopper and includes informative, entertaining interviews with such smut peddlers as Hugh Heffner, Larry Flint, John Waters, Gore Vidal and Wes Craven. There is also a remarkable amount of time spent with original cast members including producers, director Gerard Damiano and male star Harry Reems. Damiano's interviews are among my favorite part of the film. He was obviously a man who loved his work, as he also directed The Devil in Miss Jones and The Story of Joanna, among other things, and was proud to bring two of the most famous porn films of the '70s to American audiences. His sharp, enthusiastic reminiscence brings a lot to the documentary, both factually and emotionally.

There is some great archival footage at work here and a big chunk of the film is about the censorship trials that surrounded the film. In a way, it reminded me of a documentary version of
The People Vs. Larry Flint. Someone should really make a Hustler documentary. Anyway...

There are also some great moments about
Deep Throat's distribution to theatres and porn's connection to the mob. Allegedly, Deep Throat resulted in a room full of money. It came in so fast that that it couldn't be counted, only weighed and put in towering piles on the floor. A smaller section of the film discusses the late Linda Lovelace and her famous change of heart. She gave testimony that she was brainwashed, abused and forced to make the film, and anytime you watch Deep Throat you are participating in her rape. I'm all for victim's rights, but she looks like she's having a really good time deep-throating in Deep Throat. And she filmed all of her sex scenes while her abusive, weirdo husband was off running errands for the director.

My only real problem with the film is that it sweeps over a number of interesting topics without really delving deeply into any of them: '70s porn culture, the making of Deep Throat, the pornography censorship controversy, Times Square grindhouse theatres, the connection between porn and the mafia, etc. Overall it is a quick paced, entertaining documentary that captures a singular moment in American entertainment history and provides a great introduction for '70s porn newbies. I'm reviewing the single disc Universal release, though it is also currently streaming on Netflix. Be somewhat forewarned that the documentary was given an NC-17 rating because it shows a few clips of, you guessed it, deep throating.


Deep Throat, it seems, will never die. In addition to this documentary and the film's enormous public presence, it continues to receive attention. There have been six sequels over the years. The first starred the original actors and some of the later attempts were directed by Ron Jeremy. Most recently, there was a Showtime series, Deeper Throat, about a slated remake of the film with porn star Sasha Gray.

In case anyone was confused, the clitoris is not in the back of the throat.

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