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Inside Deep Throat
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by Scott Weinberg

"And you thought the porn industry was all paychecks, boobs and money shots!"
4 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2005 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL: You've got to hand it to filmmakers Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato. They know how to illuminate the topics that people want to hear about. A documentary about the world's most well-known porno flick? Heck, that's double the fun! On one hand we're privy to all the gory details and rampant nakedness, and on the other we're given a fascinating and insightful look at....pornography! You can get your sex vibe on while learning something! Brilliant!

You don't need to same one frame of Inside Deep Throat to realize that the early-70's porn industry was a low-rent and tacky affair. (As if it's a lot classier nowadays...) But the early sections of Bailey & Barbato's latest film take you inside the production like no other documentary has before. Not surprisingly, it's a pretty unsavory little history. To his credit, Deep Throat director Gerard Damiano was at least trying something new: he wanted a comedic porn flick that could prove as entertaining to the arthouse crowd as it was to the trenchcoat brigade. And to say he succeeded would be a serious understatement.

According to Inside Deep Throat, this infamous skin flick from 1972 "was filmed in 6 days for 25 thousand dollars. The government didn't 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. "

Now if that's not a worthwhile subject for a documentary film, then I'll eat my hat. And speaking of hats, mine goes off to Universal studios for picking the film up and allowing it to be released with an NC-17 rating. Trying to whittle this thing down to an R would undoubtedly have demolished some of the film's most....errrr, enlightening facets. Yeah, that's it.

But don't mistake Inside Deep Throat for an excuse to deliver truckloads of sex. Sure there's a few moments of, well, c'mon. You know what "deep throat" means, so stop making me squirm here. Suffice to say that you'll get a taste of the movie's most infamous moments, but Bailey & Barbato are a lot more interested in the people who made Deep Throat and the impact it once had on our society than they are in doling out the money shots. And this is only one of the reasons that the doco works so well.

Inside Deep Throat is funny and colorful, but it's also sobering and tragic. We hear from many of the flick's original production crew, and it's tough to not be tickled by their low-rent enthusiasm and their goofy old anecdotes. But look a little deeper and you'll find people whose hearts and souls have been irreparably damaged by their participation in the early-70's porno renaissance. You notice that Deep Throat grossed over 600 million clams? Well, here you'll find out why the filmmakers saw NONE of that cash. You'll hear about the misery, the regret, the sorrows and the anger.

Those who consider Deep Throat just another tacky old skin-flick will be fascinated by the material that Bailey & Barbato have brought to light. Not only was Deep Throat a lightning rod for all the pious and holy politicians who were looking to make an early-70's name for the themselves, but lead actor Harry Reems also got turned into Porno Enemy #1...just for appearing in the film! You'll hear all about Deep Throat star Linda Lovelace, from her early days as a fellatio practitioner to her later stints on the talk show circuit. (It was on one such talk show that she called Deep Throat a catalog of rape scenes.)

To its extreme credit, "Inside Deep Throat" doesn't wallow in the smut or pander to the raincoat crowd. Yes, it has some raunchy material and NO, it's not a documentary intended for the pre-teen crowd, but it's a grown-up and eminently entertaining reflection of where we were in 1972 - and how one little porno flick caused such an astonishing uproar. "Deep Throat" might seem quaint and harmless in today's world of instantaneously downloadable visual gratification, but it sure as hell made a lot of press back in 1972. And now you can see precisely WHY everyone got all excited about one goofy little porn flick.

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originally posted: 02/04/05 06:36:46
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Sundance Film Festival. For more in the 2005 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Brisbane Film Festival. For more in the 2005 Brisbane Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

4/05/16 Charles Tatum Standard documentary 4 stars
9/18/07 Jason Merrill The reviewer didn't like it because it's not the movie he would make. It was wonderful! 4 stars
9/02/07 j.thompson great fun,a breakthrough in social adventure 4 stars
9/26/05 a. kurlovs very well made documentary - funny, informative. 4 stars
2/04/05 mott the drupal needs more money shots 3 stars
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  11-Feb-2005 (NC-17)
  DVD: 20-Sep-2005



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