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Inside Deep Throat (2005)

It was filmed in 6 days for 25 thousand dollars. The government didnt want you to see it. It was banned in 23 states. It has grossed over 600 million dollars. And it is the most profitable film in motion picture history.

Directed by:

Fenton Bailey

Randy Barbato

Rating: 7/10

Running Time: 89 minutes

US Certificate: NC-17 UK Certificate: 18

Country: United States

In 1972, a hairdresser turned pornographer named Gerard Damiano got together a small crew of amateur 'actors' (although 'performers' would be the more accurate term), and with $22,000 of mob money, made an adult film of just over an hour's duration. It was originally going to be called 'The Doctor Makes a Housecall', but once Damiano's eyes had been opened to the peculiar 'sword-swallowing' talents of leading lady Linda Boreman (aka Linda Lovelace), he retooled the script as a celebration of this particular variety of fellatio, and took as its new title a term that he had himself invented for the act – 'Deep Throat'.

Few would argue that 'Deep Throat' has much merit as a piece of cinema. Damiano himself is quoted as saying “I don't think it's a good movie”, while location manager Lenny Camp has described it more frankly as “a piece of shit film”. Yet a combination of factors – its memorable title, its use of narrative and comedy to make all the sex easier to swallow, and its release at a time when the sexual revolution of the sixties was still in the air – meant that 'Deep Throat' had 1970s cinemagoers, men and women, coming in droves. Not only was it the first hardcore film ever to cross over into the mainstream, but also one of the most successful films of all time, with profits estimated at well over $600 million. In short, 'Deep Throat' was a sociological phenomenon far more important than the sum of its tumescent parts – and, as the religious right reacted, the film quickly became the battle ground on which America's culture wars were then waged.

Having previously made documentaries on Monica Lewinsky, Tammy Faye, and the series 'Pornography: the secret History of Civilization' for the UK's Channel 4, Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato have now, with 'Inside Deep Throat', turned their attention to the film that put the blowjob at the centre of porn, before the industry was taken over by video and everything went anal. Painstakingly assembled from more than 800 hours of interview material, the documentary is, like the film it examines, gaudy, provocative and surprisingly funny, covering everything from the history of the film's production to a history of the whole pornfilm industry, from the famous and not-so-famous who championed the film to the unprecedentedly vicious government backlash and subsequent First Amendment lawcases, from the mob's unorthodox method of distributing the film to Linda Boreman's immediate celebrity and later defection to Women Against Pornography (“every time someone watches watches that movie, they're watching me being raped”). It is certainly a lot of information to take in, although it never feels as though it is being rammed down your throat, largely due to the filmmakers' determination to avoid going into anything too deep – a lighthearted approach which suggests a high degree of selectivity (and a deficit of analysis and hard facts), but which nonetheless makes the whole film much easier to swallow.

Perhaps what is most striking, and arguably most daring, about 'Inside Deep Throat' is the decision to include explicit footage from the original of Linda Boreman doing what made her famous – for either it is just good, though not exactly clean, fun, or, if the forces that wanted the throat of Damiano's film cut (to paraphrase Judge Tyler's verdict against 'Deep Throat') were at all correct when they averred that it presented acts which would morally corrupt the viewer, then anyone who sees even this documentary, let alone the porno that inspired it, may well be doomed to eternal hell. It is Bailey and Barbato's message in a nutshell – laugh or be damned – although you may be left wondering if Boreman got the gag.

It's Got: Stills of Adolf Hitler (Linda Boremans pet cat of the same name, that is); the revelation that prosecutors tried to have Deep Throat banned on the grounds that it emphasised the wrong kind of stimulation for women, which is to say, clitoral stimulation as opposed to vaginal ("I think the judge learnt a lot from the trial", as prosecutor William Purcell comments, "I certainly did myself").

It Needs: Well, for a film purporting to go in deep, it could be a little less shallow (even if that meant covering less ground). Its treatment of feminist responses to the film is especially superficial.

Alternatives:

Behind the Green Door, Boogie Nights, Deep Throat, Monica in Black and White, Pornstar: the Legend of Ron Jeremy, Sex: the Annabel Chong Story, The Devil in Miss Jones

Summary

It may not probe quite deep enough for some tastes, but like 'Deep Throat' itself, this documentary is gaudy, provocative, and surprisingly funny.

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