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Inside Deep Throat

Director:

U.S.A.| 2005. Colour. Dolby digital stereo. 92 min.


This is not a film about Watergate. It’s about the notorious 1972 porn film that gave the Watergate insider his nickname. Filmmakers Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato expertly analyse this particularly gonzo period in U.S. history, gently underscoring the obvious parallels with today. In 1972, while porn filmmakers were moving into the mainstream, Gerard Damiano wrote a comedic porn script based on the specific—ahem—talent of actress Linda Lovelace. The filming in Miami was tricky; the male star was replaced at the last minute by production assistant Harry Reems, and the mobster producers were just hoping to recoup their $25,000 investment. But the film became a cultural event (earning $600 million), and the religious right, empowered by Nixon’s election to a second term, challenged obscenity laws to ban this ‘dangerous, immoral smut’
Bailey and Barbato assemble their material with a sharp eye for detail and bracingly hilarious wit. The range of interviewees is breathtaking, and the film is packed with insightful background about the central figures, including the conflicting accounts by Lovelace herself, which may never be adequately settled. But this film becomes important as it begins to examine issues of free speech, feminism and religious fanaticism. Together those topics lead to a revelatory history of American porn—from underground to mainstream to money-spinning, by way of two ignored/falsified presidential commissions on pornography (Nixon’s and Reagan’s). In the end, there’s a chilling statement that the same vague, pliable obscenity laws are still on the books, while today’s political climate is even more zealously rabid. Maybe it’s a film about Watergate after all.

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