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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Political > Culture > Sex > Filmmaking > Inside Deep Throat (NC-17/Documentary)

Inside Deep Throat  (NC-17/Documentary)


Picture: B-     Sound: B-     Extras: B+     Documentary: B+



Some myths about cinema just never seem to go away.  When it comes to the advent of hardcore sex films of the early 1970s, the 1972 megahit Deep Throat still resonates as a classic title, but is it a classic film and that important or innovative?  Well, no, but the title is so unambiguous, simple and direct, that it still seems to shock and resonate with the public.  In an increasingly conservative-forced culture, the name gains new momentum.  Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato are fine producers and terrific directors, as they proved with their amazing and amusing 1999 The Eyes of Tammy Faye, reviewed elsewhere on this site.  They just have a knack for unveiling the kinds of really interesting and key social and culture touchstones no one else wants to dare deal with properly.  Inside Deep Throat (2005) is even more impressive.


Watching the film, you would think it was the only important XXX film of the year (Behind The Green Door from The Mitchell Brothers and the far more legitimate X-rated Bernardo Bertolucci masterwork Last Tango In Paris are among other name film with sex content that year) or maybe the only one at all, but that is not the case.  It is one of the documentary’s only flaws, but that its focus as the film the government wanted to stop, kill, censor and hide is very key and on the money.  The most amazing thing is what the controversy reveals.  The Nixon Administration position is that the film was giving out harmful information to women about their bodies (the joke is Linda Lovelace has her clitoris in the bottom of her throat, so she will just love oral sex for the rest of her life) because they did not even want a discussion of the clitoris whatsoever.  In other words, while extreme woman-hating Islamic countries (and other extreme, backwards lands that prove moral relativity is a myth beyond belief) have men who actually cut off this part of a woman’s body so they do not have pleasure, self-awareness, individuality and the like, Nixon’s people so feared empowered women that gong after the film was the legal equivalent.


Ironically, the film is bad, so bad that it is truly one of the most overrated films of all time.  Owner Arrow Productions oddly reissued the film to try and capitalize on this documentary, but cut it down for an R-rating.  Instead, they should have just did a short subject of the stuff they did cut, because that is all the film is really worth.  And you thought Caligula (1980) was overrated.


Interviews with several XXX stars, director Gerald Damiano (who used the ethnically cleansed pseudonym Jerry Gerald for the film), Harry Reems, older footage of the late Miss Lovelace, new interview footage with her daughter, officials who went after the film, Al Goldstein, Larry Flynt, Helen Gurley Brown, Dick Cavett and many others paint a portrait of the film’s phenomenon and how this also became a battle between the government and organized crime.  When Reems is put on trial just for being an actor, Hollywood itself has to come out and defend him.  The story of the off-screen battles and classic reactions to the film far exceed the film itself, which is why this is so entertaining to watch.


As far as Lovelace is concerned, she is brought over to the anti-porn side for a time, then “gets over it” as it were, though the film never discusses her dangerous silicone implants or the tragic mastectomy that followed.  Why, who knows, but a separate program on Lovelace herself would work because there is enough material outside of her famous hit.


Ultimately, it also become a film about a film that shows once again how The Religious Right rolled back so many rights in this country and purposely ruined a culture of a maturing school of thought on human sexuality and male/female relationships.  Misguided movements within Feminism and that revival of Communism called Political Correctness did not help, but when this film ends, one thing might occur to you that the film does not consider.  If Deep Throat had been as much of an artistic triumph as it had been a hit, that culture would have been much harder to rollback: a tragedy as grave as the ordeals of Miss Lovelace herself.  Inside Deep Throat sees how XXX cinema and legitimate cinema were two boats that passed each other in the night and never merged in a way that potentially could have worked.


Now, that possibility has been lost to time, The Internet, home video, satellite, cable and advertising saturated with physical imagery that feigns sex but has as little understanding of sex or sexuality as Deep Throat did of filmmaking.  For reasons even Neo-Conservatism cannot be blamed for, the XXX movement and free cultures they helped to propel (along with The Civil Rights movement) saw its peak in films like Penthouse’s production of Caligula and the doomed Disco musical Can’t Stop The Music with The Village People because they were the only possible conclusion to all that excess.  Yet, the party might not really be over yet.  It just depends on those next boat crossings.


The anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 image is a mix of film and video that is nicely edited, even more so than The Eyes of Tammy Faye, meaning the filmmakers are getting better at what they do.  This is about as good as this is going to look on DVD, so the transfer is solid and better than many feature films we see.  The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is not bad, though the old XXX footage is amusing for its old monophonic sound.  Sound quality varies throughout in the older footage, but the mix is engaging for the most part, particularly with its use of vocal records.  Extras include two commentary tracks, one with the directors, the other a compilation of additional audio clips of value.  You also get the original theatrical trailer and over a dozen featurettes on the film.  This includes various trial pieces, further interviews and some amusing tidbits too good to list because they are too funny.


As for the DVD, Inside Deep Throat is not just unrated, it is NC-17.  That is the successor to the X-rating as of 1990 that did not reverse the stigma on films that show sexually explicit materials.  Here, it is necessary to show what is being talked about completely for this work to work and be understood.  It’s timing could not be better in its current release and is easily one of this year’s most important documentary works.  Anyone who disagrees is simply up to no good, so beware and be sure you see this version.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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