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Las Vegas Weekly Looks at Inside Deep Throat

Porn Valley- Thanks to the magic of the E! True Hollywood Story, the sordid details of the lives of even the most obscure entertainment industry figures (Lobster Boy, anyone?) are common knowledge. It’s no longer novel to learn about the drug addictions, abusive relationships and eventual redemptions (or deaths) of marginal celebrities.

So documentarians Bailey and Barbato, the filmmakers behind the campy documentary The Eyes of Tammy Faye and both the documentary and narrative versions of Party Monster, have their work cut out for them in Inside Deep Throat, www.xxxdeepthroat.com.

It’s not enough just to tell us about the mob financing and government repression that dogged the pioneering porn film, Deep Throat, in the early 1970s. Nor is it enough to detail the trial and conviction of star Harry Reems, his descent into alcoholism and rebirth as a Christian real-estate agent, or star Linda Lovelace’s eventual embrace of the feminist anti-porn movement, with claims that she had been coerced into appearing in Deep Throat. (Lovelace later died in a car crash.)

Inside Deep Throat has all that, and Bailey and Barbato present it with style and intrigue. They keep the film constantly moving, with surprisingly high production values for a documentary. For the most part, though, it’s like watching a really well-produced version of True Hollywood Story. Narrator Dennis Hopper talks us through the turbulent political climate, the emergence of adult film and the events that led to the creation of Deep Throat, an adult film that went on to become one of the most profitable movies ever made (although it’s hard to trust figures on a film whose financiers were mobsters).

In addition to the cast and crew and various related figures, Bailey and Barbato trot out a cavalcade of well-known commentators, from Camille Paglia and Erica Jong to Norman Mailer and Gore Vidal, in what appears to be an attempt to get to the deeper cultural and cinematic meaning of Deep Throat, something that E! never bothers with. But for all the big names speaking big words, the film ends up saying little of substance, getting most of its points from humorous montages or cranky old people who had peripheral relationships to the film in the first place.

Therein lies the principal problem: It’s undoubtedly entertaining, but at every turn it goes for easy humor and obvious political jabs rather than genuine insight or revelation. Inside Deep Throat is pleasurable but may leave you feeling unfulfilled.

 

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