Deep Throat (Gerard Damiano / U.S., 1972):

A dirty-funky joke, the one about the small woman on Swallow Street, the salacious party trick that spread out of sticky Times Square screens and into 1970s American culture like a tremor. The tone is offhand carnal vaudeville, Linda Lovelace -- frizzy, freckled, slender, affectingly half-lost -- wanders into her bungalow and nonchalantly greets her cigarette-dangling roommate (Dolly Sharp), who’s spread on the kitchen counter with a lout’s head between her thighs. Orgasms have long eluded the heroine, sex makes her "sort of tingly all over, and then... nothing." An orgy leaves a roomful of exhausted studs strewn about the living room but none of those bursting dams and exploding bombs she yearns for. Finally, in a medical examination adorably patterned after A Day at the Races, the Ovidian revelation: Her clitoris is hidden deep in her larynx, the bell at the bottom of the well. The doctor (Harry Reems) volunteers to help her overcome her gag complex ("a matter of discipline"), the oral spectacle that follows startles, tickles, and earns its shuddering orgasmic montage of fireworks and rockets. Parodying a certain Mickey & Sylvia hit, the soundtrack tries to make sense of it all ("Looooove is strange, a lot of people like it in the mouth..."). As befits a tale of displaced anatomy and pleasure, Gerard Damiano’s crossover triple-X smash is a male fantasy of female desire, a Doris Day-Rock Hudson romp with the polished veneer scraped off and the coy innuendo replaced with slapdash, raunchy surrealism (Lovelace in nursing lingerie readying herself for an old kinkster’s soda pop and straw, a spent Reems clutching his bandaged schlong under the sheets, "wounded in the line of duty"). Nixon led the prudes after it only to have its title haunt his dethroning scandal, Cronenberg took the yonic drollery and ran with it. As for Lovelace, there she is gasping in her final close-up, flushed and smeary and smiling, ready to be launched as pop emblem and pop casualty. With Carol Connors, Bill Harrison, Bob Phillips, Jack Birch, and William Love.

--- Fernando F. Croce

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