Inside Deep Throat (18)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner09/06/2005

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 92 mins

Smartly directed, engaging documentary that tells a fascinating story and draws some thought-provoking parallels with today’s political climate.

The timing of Inside Deep Throat’s release is somewhat unfortunate, given that Watergate insider Mark Felt (who took his “Deep Throat” nickname from the film) chose last week to finally reveal his true identity.

The Story

Hopefully no-one will go to Inside Deep Throat expecting to see a documentary about Watergate, but you never know - there’s always one, isn’t there? Instead the film is about the notorious 1972 porn film that went on to become both a cultural phenomenon and the most profitable motion picture of all time, with a total of around $600 million.

The film has a surprising pedigree – it’s produced by Oscar-winning producer Brian Grazer (who’s best known for his collaborations with Ron Howard and TV’s 24) and it’s directed by Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato, who have a knack for picking fascinating documentary subjects (such as Monica Lewinsky or Tammy Faye Baker) and were the writer-director team behind both the documentary and the feature film of Party Monster.

They’ve assembled an impressive array of talking heads that includes Deep Thoat’s director, Gerard Damiano, and star, Harry Reems, as well as a host of famous faces such as Norman Mailer, Hugh Hefner, Wes Craven and John Waters. In addition, they’ve tracked down archive footage so that we also hear from star Linda Lovelace herself as well as others who have either died or were otherwise unwilling or unable to comment.

The Documentary

The film documents the making of the movie, including the frequently difficult shoot in Miami – Reems was a production assistant and stood in at the last minute when the male star, er, pulled out; Lovelace herself later claimed that she was forced to do the film by her abusive boyfriend.

The mob’s involvement in the film is well known and the documentary skirts as close to the issue of what happened to the money as it’s possible to do without incurring the old horse’s head in the bed treatment – an interview with Florida distributor Arthur Summerfield is hilarious because his wife Terry keeps interrupting, worried that he’s said too much.

Admittedly, the film starts to lose its focus once it starts to examine the Deep Throat phenomenon and Lovelace’s equally fascinating story is side-lined as a result. That said, the film raises some important and chillingly relevant points about free speech, censorship and the power of the religious right in a politically favourable climate, something that’s perfectly illustrated by Reems’s imprisonment under the obscenity laws.

Similarly, the information on the two presidential commissions on pornography (one ignored, the other falsified) speaks volumes about a society that’s capable of getting so worked up over the exposure of a nipple on national television.

To be fair, the film doesn’t preoccupy itself with grandstanding and is careful to give Deep Throat’s detractors a voice, even if Barbato and Bailey can’t resist cheekily inserting pornographic clips over the comments of one of them. As that suggests, there’s also a lot of humour in the film, including the priceless footage of an elderly female New Yorker leaving the cinema and proclaiming, “I wanted to see a dirty movie and that’s what I saw!”

The Conclusion

In short, Inside Deep Throat is an entertaining moustaches-and-all documentary that tells an engaging story and draws some thought-provoking parallels. Those lured by the film’s 18 rating and seeking titillation are likely to be disappointed, but the film does at least contain 20 seconds of the infamous act that gave the film its name. You know, for context. Recommended.

Film Trailer

Inside Deep Throat (18)
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Content updated: 25/11/2014 00:22

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