Inside Deep Throat –
Dir: Fenton Bailey, Randy Barbato – 3/5
(This is the review I did when I saw
the film at the 2005 Sydney Film Festival.)
This documentary is more of a fun item than a very serious look at the
subject, and yet it does have some edge, and at least one serious
The film begins with Eric Burdon’s song 'Spill the Wine'. Why was the
soundtrack off-synch? Was it just the one print that we saw?
There are nice ‘tearing’ titles. Music is vital for setting the
scene, and there’s a very juicy 70s soundtrack, including
Melanie’s 'Brand New Key', Gary Glitter, Alice Cooper’s 'Elected'
& ‘Draggin’ the Line’ 'Superfly'. Sometimes there are very
suggestive titles like 'Love is Strange', 'How Do You Like it?'
& ‘Keep it Comin’ Love.’ All these songs give us an emotional
memory of the times and the context of the film.
The narrator - Dennis Hopper – is not introduced. Why? We hear from Wes
Craven & John Waters too.
The theme of the movie is stated early on, I think by the ‘Deep Throat’
Director Gerard Damiano: ‘Young people today are in it for the money.
Then we were in it for the rebellion.’ But of course organised crime
ultimately controlled the porn industry. The filmmakers don’t pursue
this as well as they could, but it is there at the fringes.
1700 people a day saw ‘Deep Throat’! The NY Times legitimised it by
writing about it, calling the phenomenon ‘Porno Chic’. But
eventually the film had to be censored (by NYC Judge Tyler), resulting
in the fabulous headline - 'Judge Cuts Throat - World Mourns'.
It was then banned in 23 States. In June 1973 the US Supreme
Court gave local officials the right to decide what is pornographic.
The 1975 obscenity trial was actually a conspiracy trial, notable for
the fact that for the first time the state prosecuted the star of a
film over its content (as opposed to the producer, director or writer).
That star was Harry Reams. Alan Dershowitz said: 'Prosecutors should
not be creative.' The Supreme Court overturned the decision. It
turned out that the famous ‘Meese Report’ about the effects of
pornography was not based on any scientific studies.
The filmmakers then contract those quaint old times with what’s
happening now: in 2002 400-odd mainstream films were made, but 1100-odd
porn films. Today porno is mostly private - at home. Now kids don’t
consider oral sex to be sex (relying no doubt on the precedent of Bill
Clinton). However, the laws used to prosecute ‘Deep Throat’ remain
The film is not just analytical, though. The subject is sex, and
there is plenty shown – and most especially quite a bit of the famous
‘money shots’. But they had to show it. It’s what the film’s
The filmmakers make some pretty big claims about the significance of
this film in US social, history. Since we didn’t see the film at
all in Australia on release (it was banned, of course), we are well
placed to judge that significance. We didn’t see it, and we still
went through the sexual revolution. It is as well to take much of
the film’s assertions about social history with a grain of salt.
The film ends with some disturbing revelations about Linda Lovelace and
the question of whether she was forced to act in ‘Deep Throat’.
There is no doubt she was in an abusive relationship, and, for me, the
film is deeply unsatisfactory in its treatment of this aspect, treating
it almost perfunctorily (compared to the other, more fun, aspects of
the film). So I was ultimately upset and disturbed by the film
(see Q&A response below).
Notes from the Q&A
The director of ‘Inside Deep Throat’ said they had discovered how sex
& politics are so interconnected especially in USA. We haven't come
far since the 70s in terms of censorship. All it succeeds in doing is
to camera the very thing it seeks to prevent.
Q. Who owns ‘Deep Throat’?
A. Not the mob. But a guy who bought it off the mob.
NC17 rating. Can't advertise it in newspapers.
He doesn't think Linda was forced to act in the film, but she was also
in an abusive relationship with her husband.