‘Inside Deep Throat’ – Porn in the USA on Netflix

With its party rock soundtrack, colorful (and at times damaged) characters, and portrait of the pornography industry on the cusp of a cultural shift, Inside Deep Throat (2005) is something of a real life Boogie Nights.

Documentary directors Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato offer the story of a grubby historical event: an explicit but otherwise innocuous $25,000 skin flick by hairdresser turned porno director Gerard Damiano that turned into one of the flashpoints in the cultural discussion of sex, censorship, and obscenity when it was targeted—almost arbitrarily—in the government’s moral mission against smut. Audiences flocked to this dirty movie, dubbed “Porn Chic” by the New York Times and championed by free speech advocates, in unprecedented numbers.

To make their case, however, the filmmakers play the mob connection as a glorified brush with danger and offer a suspect portrait of girl next door porno icon Linda Lovelace, who died in 2002, still unable to escape her notoriety. The filmmakers acknowledge the abusive control of her possessive husband/manager/pimp and give lip service but no voice to her subsequent anti-pornography activism (the directors irresponsibly ignore commentators Helen Gurley Brown and Camille Paglia and have Hugh Hefner and Damiano sum up her campaign). Their portrait turns the film and the early seventies porn industry into a largely innocent act of sexual liberation and social rebellion, which lost its innocence as video transformed it into a crude behemoth.

Turning the film’s complex history into a simple matter of civil rights and freedom of expression fits the politics of the directors (they frame the comments of the anti-obscenity participants with dismissive asides), but doesn’t do justice to the issues surrounding the fascinating story. Still, they draw a convincing line between the social and political atmosphere of the film and the culture wars of today, and they do so with a very entertaining film.

Dennis Hopper narrates.

Rated NC-17 for its inclusion of sexually explicit clips from Deep Throat and other pornographic films. An R-rated version was also edited for home video.

Queue it up!

Also on Blu-ray and DVD and on SVOD through Amazon Video, iTunes, GooglePlay and/or other services. Availability may vary by service.
Inside Deep Throat (Theatrical NC-17 Edition) [DVD]
Inside Deep Throat (R-Rated Edition) [DVD]

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On DVD in NC-17 and R-rated versions, with two commentary tracks (one by directors Randy Barbato and Fenton Bailey, another created from unused and cut interviews originally conducted for the documentary), bonus scenes, and the trailer. The NC-17 edition features additional bonus scenes. Each of the supplementary scenes are constructed from interviews originally conducted for the documentary and expand upon ideas and issues brought up in the film.

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Sean Axmaker is a Seattle film critic and writer. He writes the weekly newspaper column Stream On Demand and the companion website, and his work appears in Vulture, Turner Classic Movies online, Keyframe, and Parallax View.

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