In June of 1972 a pornographic movie was released in American cinemas, and not just any pornographic movie, but Deep Throat which became possibly the most famous - or infamous - of all time. It made a superstar out of its leading lady Linda Lovelace, and from an initial cost of $25,000 it made $600 million, becoming the most profitable of its era. It paved the way for the popularity of porn, but not everyone was happy about it as the moralists were vociferous in their complaints and Deep Throat was prosecuted under obscenity laws, and that's without mentioning who was really making money out the film...
The busy, information-packed Inside Deep Throat was scripted by its directors Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato and examined the product of a time of greater freedom in American cinema. Not the new wave of movie brats like Francis Ford Coppola or Martin Scorcese who were pushing back the boundaries of the mainstream, but a film that threatened to let, shall we say, specialist tastes move from the seedy theatres they had traditionally resided to share screen space with the more respectable hits of the day. The film interviews the main players of Deep Throat's success and many commentators who were around at the time and went to see it and judges the progress, or lack of it, from 1972 to 2005.
One person who isn't interviewed, and she is missed, is Lovelace. As she died in a car crash in 2002, she understandably doesn't have much to say and is represented through archive footage and it's interesting to hear her change her tune over the course of the years charted. At first the film sets out how the film was made and the novelty of having a porno movie with jokes in it and the gimmick of Lovelace's character having her clitoris in her throat. Her participation was made possible by her then-husband Chuck Trainor and his sinister influence is felt as the story progresses, if little mentioned. After seeing her celebrity fade, Lovelace reignited her fame in the eighties when she aligned herself with feminists and claimed she had been forced into making Deep Throat.
However, the film has other fish to fry as well as it explores the anti-pornography crusade of the early seventies that continues to this day. President Nixon had instigated a scientific report into the supposedly harmful effects of pornography but when its findings were that it was not harmful to adults at all, Nixon and his cronies had the report sat on and ignored. When Deep Throat arrived, they had the perfect film to be made an example of and shut it down across the country even as it made headlines, referenced on TV and the media (there are some good clips of the likes of Rowan and Martin's Laugh In and Johnny Carson to illustrate the phenomenon's renown). Of course, this made the population more desperate to see the film than ever, from dirty old men to fashionable young women.
But it wasn't only the moralists who objected - the police objected too as it turned out the film had been backed by, and was making millions for, the Mafia, with director Gerard Damiano forced out of the profits (he never made money from it). The whole tale is a complicated one, but Bailey and Barbato explain it clearly and shy away from a simple nostalgic clip show shot through rose tinted spectacles (although there's no denying there's an element of that). When it reaches the trial of star Harry Reems, who was being prosecuted for being filmed while having sexual intercourse but in reality was a scapegoat, Inside Deep Throat takes on a crusading tone itself, holding up porn as an example of free speech. Yet while you are left with the impression that porn is not necessarily a bad thing, its real purpose is to make mountains of cash and Lovelace's depressing life makes you ponder that it may not be all that terrific either.