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USA 1972
Directed by
Gerard Damiano
86 minutes
Rated R

Reviewed by
David Michael Brown
3 stars

Deep Throat

Synopsis: Linda (Linda Lovelace) is frustrated with her love life. Despite her promiscuous lifestyle she is unable to achieve an orgasm. After visiting Dr Young (Harry Reems) she discovers her failure to enjoy regular sex is that her clitoris is situated at the back of her throat. Upon discovering this abnormality she wastes no time in practicing new techniques to help her gain pleasure from sex.

There are some films that defy criticism, no matter what the quality of the movie, their position in popular culture is so ingrained into the collective psyche that people are familiar with its name, even if they haven’t seen it. Deep Throat is one such film. The most famous porn film of all time and one of the most successful money earners in film history, Deep Throat was the flagship for the sexual revolution in the 70s and introduced conventional cinema-going couples to the prurient thrills of pornography. The huge success of Deep Throat led to the likes of Debbie Does Dallas and other salacious additions to the modern vernacular.

Gerard Damiano, the hairdresser-turned-director who inspired a generation’s acceptance of pornography, gave the world smut with a difference. Deep Throat had a plot, sense of humour, a likeable cast, a fabulous soundtrack and the eye-wateringly infamous oral sex scenes that would ensure the film caused controversy wherever it was release. The stories behind the film are definitely more interesting than the film itself; the film’s star Linda Lovelace claimed she filmed many of the scenes under duress, the Mafia was involved in the films funding, the actual filmmakers saw none of the huge amounts of money that Deep Throat earned at the box office. In fact all these and many more are the reasons why Fenton Bailey’s 2005 documentary, Inside Deep Throat, was such a compelling watch.

Much has been written about the late Lovelace (she died in a car accident in 2002) and she certainly throws herself into the role. Her freckle faced girl-next-door looks are a million miles away from the pnueumatic, cosmetically-enhanced stars typical of porn films and she almost gives the role a hint of innocence, despite her obvious skills at fellatio. It’s hard to believe today quite how famous she became overnight and it was this rapid ascent to stardom that probably quickened her alignement with the feminist movement and denouncement of the film and the industry that made her famous. At the other end of the spectrum is Harry Reems, the moustachioed actor who started life as a actor and was hired as lighting director on Deep Throat before leaping in front of the camera and giving it his all. You couldn’t imagine a more clichéd looking male porn star if you tried and he is (obviously) having a ball. The film also displays a sense of humour long gone in the industry. Rockets launch and bells ring during moments of climax and the musical score by the director features some hilariously saucy lyrics.

A victory for freedom of speech and our right to view whatever we want or an example of smut masquerading as art? That depends on your acceptance of sexuality on screen but as a period piece that set tongues wagging and sent audiences into a frenzy of outrage or copy-cat behaviour, Deep Throat, is a fascinating look at a bygone age, even in this extremely truncated form.




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