Open Wide

The fascinating true story of a porn landmark.

Inside Deep Throat (which opens Friday, Feb. 11, at the Harvard Exit) is a class act about a crass act: Linda Lovelace's ability to suppress her gag reflex so as to sword-swallow all comers in the 1972 porn flick Deep Throat. It started out as an adaptation of Lovelace's embittered memoir, Ordeal, but producer Brian Grazer and co-directors Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato (The Eyes of Tammy Faye) felt it was more interesting to tackle a bigger issue than even Lovelace's flexible epiglottis could accommodate: the entire society that the illicit blockbuster upended.

It's a fascinating, well-made documentary, quite restrainedly thoughtful even in its hardest-core footage, and bursting with lively personalities: porn stars, mob victims, FBI victims, celebs from Norman Mailer to John Waters, and the slimy porn-basher Charles Keating, who wound up jailed himself for his role in the '80s S&L scandal. The best characters are the adorably quarrelsome octogenarian couple who distributed Deep Throat and Lovelace co-star Harry Reems, saved from prison by Nixon's fall. (How come porn persecutors keep turning out to be the biggest criminals in America?) You'll also love the judge in the indecency case, who had no idea what a clitoral orgasm was, yet ruled that the film might harm a woman by convincing her to settle for one instead of a vaginal orgasm: "She is wrong! She is wrong!"

The late Lovelace is the central figure, mutating from eager beaver to bitter victim of the mob and Andrea Dworkin both. Get her full story (including her dog-sex scene) in Legs McNeil's amazing new book, The Other Hollywood (he'll be reading in Seattle March 2 and 3). Aside from that, this doc is the subject's deepest oral history.

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