Inside Deep Throat

Historically, the American government has been tighter than the late Sandra Dee’s stockings and nowhere is this made more obvious than in the documentary Inside Deep Throat.

In a modern era of adult film conventions, the Internet, and Ron Jeremy worshipping, it’s easy to take pornography for granted. It’s now hard to imagine an American market devoid of the 11,000 plus adult films that the industry churned out last year alone, but the industry didn’t always gross $10 billion a year and adult entertainment wasn’t always available on demand in most hotels in the nation.

Like founding father George Washington, director Gerard Damiano found the innocent taste of cherries disagreeable. What better way to uproot an increasingly puritanical society than to shoot a film about a woman whose misplaced clitoris can be found in the back of her throat?

The concept, not to be either literal or figurative, was mind-blowing to some. Questions about how one could be born with such a defect and what deep throat meant were intense enough to bring a curious American audience to its knees, while sitting in theater seats anyways.

Inside Deep Throat is less about the film itself, released in 1972, and more about its $600 million aftermath, which will be disappointing to porn aficionados praying for enough scenes from the original movie to splice them all together.

Directors Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato certainly have an interesting enough cast to make up for said oversight. Damiano is eccentric but likeable as the barbershop-owner turned porn-director and manages to strike the audience as almost normal compared to the rest of his Deep Throat cast and crew.

His stars, Linda Lovelace and Harry Reems, bleed naivetÃ?©. Lovelace, playing the patient with the unique throat, was barely 19 when the film was shot in Florida on a $25,000 budget and would later claim to have been forced into a contract with Damiano by her then-boyfriend Chuck Traynor. Reems, the subject of the newly coined term deep throat and the film’s doctor, paints himself as a low-budget porn star with three eyes on Hollywood.

Bailey and Barbato succeed in conveying the challenge the success of the film posed to a nation politically governed by Nixon but culturally governed by a disenfranchised underbelly of free-spirited youth. Clashes between the two are documented through archived footage, adult entertainment regulars like Hugh Hefner, and early patrons of the film, including the grandmother of producer Brian Grazer. The two directors also expose the fact that Deep Throat was funded by organized crime, an interesting tidbit that unfortunately grows stale as its pressed thinner than Calista Flockhart’s ribcage.

Perhaps most interesting from a historical standpoint is the film’s documentation of Reems’ obscenity trial, which was initiated in 1976 and, some argue, served as a distraction from Nixon’s Watergate scandal. Unthinkable as it is today, Reems, who was hired primarily as a lighting technician by Damiano before cast as Dr. Young, for 100 dollars, was put on trial for the knowing distribution of the film, which, to his surprise, had been masterminded by the Columbo organized crime family.

Although he was found not guilty and served none of the five years proposed as his sentence, Reems and his trial serves as a chilling reminder of what our government is capable of manipulating.
While the title promises more, Inside Deep Throat grants its audience a unique view into the early years of pornography and exposes the sensitive moral fibers of a nation challenged by a silly film about a woman with a clitoris in her mouth.

Although tedious and unfocused at times, the film remains topical, documenting everything from the late ’60s and early ’70s obscenity laws to the cheap production of porn today.

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