“Inside Deep Throat” Coming to a Theater Near You

Matt O'Conner
LOS ANGELES, Calif. – “Inside Deep Throat,” a documentary about the most infamous and lucrative X-rated film of all time, opens Friday in major cities, and if early publicity surrounding the film is any indication, it should do quite well at the box office.

The documentary was the hottest ticket at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, and it has received favorable reviews from Rolling Stone and other mainstream publications.

In “Inside Deep Throat,” filmmakers Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato document the cultural phenomenon set in motion by the 1972 release of “Deep Throat,” an absurd hardcore comedy about a woman with a remarkable ability to suppress her gag reflex.

Shot on the cheap in Miami for $22,000, “Deep Throat” got a big boost after the New York Times published an article called, “Porn Chic.” Manhattanites flocked to theaters, and the rest of the country soon followed. The movie went on to gross an estimated $600 million worldwide, making it the highest-grossing film at the time.

Despite the movie’s financial success, its story had anything but a happy ending. “Inside Deep Throat” looks at everything that went wrong, which included pretty much everything.

The film’s star, Linda Lovelace, claims that she was forced to perform, sometimes at gun point. Male lead Harry Reams — originally a production assistant who stepped in when the male star turned out not to be up to the challenge — talks about narrowly escaping federal prosecution for his involvement. And director Jerry Damiano explains how his silent partners, two mobsters, sent bagmen to theaters to collect daily receipts and strong-armed him into giving up any claims on the millions generated by the movie.

Media gadflies like John Waters, Camille Paglia and Dick Cavette also weigh in on how much — or how little, depending on who’s talking at the moment — censorship politics and social mores have changed between the Nixon and Bush administrations.

While it’s doubtful the documentary could ever approach the success of the movie it is about, “Inside Deep Throat” does have the distribution muscle of Universal Pictures going for it, as well as the big-name clout of producer Brian Grazer, the man behind such family-friendly fare as “Parenthood” and “Splash.”