In 1972, a little movie made for $25,000.00 and shot in Miami by a quirky little man named Gerard Damiano who previously made his living a as a New York City hairdresser struck box office gold. To make this Cinderella story even more unusual is the fact that this wasn't a typical American movie made in the confines of the Hollywood system or even an art house film but an X-rated adult film – porn. For the first time in history, Deep Throat had regular men and women driving into downtown grindhouse cinemas like the Pussycat Theater in California or the 42nd St. movie houses of New York City to take in an 'adults only' feature film.
The premise of Deep Throat is simple, and quite honestly, pretty dumb. Linda Lovelace (a.k.a. Linda Boorman) can't achieve what she considers a real orgasm. She goes to see her doctor, played by Harry Reems, and he finds that her clitoris is way down in her throat. To counter this problem, Ms. Lovelace learns the art of deep throating a man and getting him way down in there to give her the stimulation that she needs to 'see fireworks and bombs going off.'
This goofy idea just happened to hit in the right places at the right time and Lovelace's oral abilities soon become the stuff of legend – and of much controversy. While the arts and entertainment industry accepted Deep Throat with open arms the conservative right saw it as obscene and soon prints were being confiscated and participants in the film were being put on trial. To make matters worse for those involved, the FBI was bound and determined to finger the mafia connection to the film's production and nail two birds with one stone, putting a certain New York based Italian crime family away for good measure. Well, it all boiled up into a big mess with Reems looking at serving five years in jail for his involvement in the film and Lovelace gaining immunity for her testimony.
Inside Deep Throat, directed by documentary filmmakers Randy Barbato and Fenton Bailey and narrated by Dennis Hopper, explores not only the criminal investigation that resulted out of the film's astounding box office success, but also the rise to popularity that the film and its stars enjoyed once that success hit. Of course, everything that goes up, must go down, and we're also given a rundown of Reems and Lovelace's subsequent falls from grace.
On the surface, this is a pretty interesting subject for a documentary film – but sadly, the surface is all that we really get. For those who don't already know the story about Deep Throat, Lovelace's uncanny ability to swallow the largest of manly appendages and Harry Reems day in court this is probably fascinating stuff but for those of us who have followed the story with any attention to detail at all, we're not really going to learn anything new from this film. Inside Deep Throat probably would have been a more interesting film had it paid more attention to biographical details for Damiano, Reems and especially Lovelace, whose entire life on this planet seemed to have been a very troubled one, right up until the end. What we get instead are surface details, a cursory glance at the big facts and very little effort given to exploring anything other than those very same big facts.
That's really the only complaint I can levy at the film, however. Inside Deep Throat does a very good job of combining brand new interview footage with people who we have rarely seen on camera before, if ever. The filmmakers tracked down distributors, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and even Damiano and Reems themselves to give their take on the events that put them on the map (whether they want to be there or not – Reems has been very reluctant to talk about his past in the adult entertainment industry since getting religion and starting a real estate business in Utah – until now). The editing of the stock footage, which includes clips from Reems in court, protests in front of XXX theaters, and plenty of clips of Lovelace herself (and yes, the infamous act is shown in all its glory – no matter how many times I see it, it is still quite remarkable what that woman could do!) from her various incarnations. While it's regrettable that the filmmakers didn't give us more, what we do get is definitely good enough.
Inside Deep Throat really benefits from a very nice 1.85.1 anamorphic widescreen transfer that boasts rich colors, strong and deep black levels, and very little edge enhancement or compression issues to note. While obviously some of the archival footage is in rougher shape, the newly shot interviews and cutaways look almost perfect and don't exhibit any print damage or dirt on the image at all. Skin tones look nice and natural, everything is lit properly, color reproduction looks very accurate and life like and there's a surprisingly high level of detail present in the image (you can see the fibers in Damiano's hair piece if you look hard enough for them!).Sound:
The film is treated to a nice English language Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound mix that does a really nice job with the score and the dialogue. Again, the archival clips sound a little worse for wear but the new material is crystal clear. The music pumps up on the soundtrack and fills in the room through the surrounds and the subwoofer and relegates most of the talkier bits to the front center channel – which makes perfect sense. Optional subtitles are available in English, French and Spanish and there's an English closed captioning option available as well.Extras:
Universal has supplied two commentary tracks for this DVD release, and both are quite different:
The first commentary has been assembled from the interviews that were shot to make the film itself, so we basically get to hear outtakes and excerpts from a lot of the same people that we see on the screen. While a lot of this isn't scene specific and is out of context, there are some interesting tid-bits in here including more commentary with Damiano and some of the other key players involved in the production. It's an interesting, if slightly disjointed presentation but it's definitely worth skimming through.
The second commentary track is with the two co-directors of the film, Randy Barbato and Fenton Bailey. This track is a little more revelatory as to the making of the film itself as the pair go into a fair bit of detail about issues that they ran into working with certain participants, how they tracked down specific people that they wanted to get on camera and what kind of obstacles that they ran into while doing so, as well as where a lot of the archival clips were taken from and why they were used in the documentary. Both men seem to have had a good time working on the project and this track serves as a nice crash course of sorts in the history of the film with a fair bit of attention paid to its subjects as well.
Once you make your way through the film be sure to spend the time with the deleted scenes as some of this material is more interesting than what made it into the final cut of the film. Fourteen deleted scenes are included in total, with a combined running time of just over sixty four minutes all together. Highlights from the deleted scenes include an amusing look at the Harry Reems Athletic Club, an organization that was formed in the seventies to honor Reems which now boasts over forty thousand members world wide. Reems' reaction to this organization is pretty amusing and he gives us his thoughts on it while sitting in a golf cart at a country club in Utah. There's also a very interesting look at an earlier obscenity trail that occurred over the film in the town of Binghamton, a look at the arrests that occurred when two students screened the film at Princeton University, and a clip showing the state of Hollywood, California at the time that the movie was made. There's also a segment titled Firedance With Me in which we watch an aged Gerard Damiano observing his daughter doing her fire dance routine in the family backyard. A Legends Of Erotica clips shows the one and only Bill Margold presenting a post humus award to Linda Lovelace for kicking down the doors and popularizing the adult entertainment industry with her work. Margold is always fun to listen to, this quick segment that takes place in an adult video store in California is no exception. Some more somber moments in the deleted scenes include Lovelace's daughter, Leslie, reflecting on the effects that Deep Throat had on her mother's life and how it prevented her from holding a job, and another clip entitled Women Against Pornography shows Lovelace and Gloria Steinham together crusading against smut – oddly enough, a few years after this phase of her life Lovelace would return to the pages of a men's magazine for another photo shoot. All in all, it's a very nice selection of excised material and it's great to see it all included here – it's a shame that it wasn't left in the film, but I suppose that would have padded the running time out to over two and a half hours in length and that probably would have been committing suicide in terms of the film's theatrical run.
Rounding out the supplements is the very well edited R-rated trailer for the NC-17 version of the film.Final Thoughts:
While Inside Deep Throat isn't going to teach fans of vintage smut anything that they don't already know about the movie and the people who made it, it does serve as a nice refresher course and for those not as well versed in the history of American adult cinema, it could prove to be a bit of an eye opener. At the very least, even if the documentary could have and should have delved deeper into the history of the principal players involved in the production, it still proves to be an entertaining film and Universal's NC-17 version of the film on DVD has some great extras and has very nice audio and video quality making this one an easy recommendation.