The Associated Press today reports on the death of Gerard Damiano, described by AP writer Sarah Larimer as the director of a "pioneering pornographic film":
Damiano's "Deep Throat" was a mainstream box-office success and helped launch the modern hardcore adult-entertainment industry. Shot in six days for just $25,000, the 1972 flick became a cultural must-see for Americans who had just lived through the sexual liberation of the 1960s.
Mainstream box-office success? A cultural must-see? Not as I recall. In a 2005 Los Angeles Times piece disputing claims of how much money was made by "Deep Throat," Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Michael Hiltzik noted that the movie was "banned in half the country and generally exhibited in one theater at a time even in the biggest cities, such as New York and Los Angeles."
The porn flick enjoyed some popularity among celebrities, not surprisingly. Critic Roger Ebert wrote in his review:
The movie became "pornographic chic" in New York before it was busted. Mike Nichols told Truman Capote he shouldn't miss it, and then the word just sort of got around: This is the first stag film to see with a date.
I don't remember the film being considered a cultural must-see. Then again, I wasn't hanging around with sophisticated folks like Truman Capote.
I do recall some protests against "Deep Throat" at the time. If only those poor misguided folks had the benefit of the Associated Press's cosmopolitan evaluation of this pioneering film, they would undoubtedly have tossed down their signs and bought tickets.