Scene from Deep Throat
A scene from 1972's Deep Throat, which the FBI tried unsuccessfully to block. Photo: Kobal
The FBI worked desperately to block the landmark 1972 porn film Deep Throat in a vain attempt to curb the spread of permissive thinking in the US, according to newly-released files.
1. Deep Throat
2. Release: 1972
3. Country: USA
4. Cert (UK): R18
5. Directors: Gerard Damiano
6. Cast: Harry Reames, Linda Lovelace
7. More on this film
Agents from Honolulu to Miami seized copies of the film, arranged for negatives to be analysed in laboratories and interviewed actors, producers and even messengers who ferried reels to cinemas.
The huge success of Deep Throat, which disputed sources say may have made up to $600m (Ł364m) for its mob backers, is seen by many as a defining moment in the cultural and sexual revolution, though others label it a cheap and nasty exercise in exploitation.
"Today we can't imagine authorities at any level of government – local, state or federal – being involved in obscenity prosecutions of this kind," Mark Weiner, a constitutional law professor and legal historian at Rutgers-Newark School of Law, told the Associated Press, which campaigned to have the files released under the US freedom of information act.
"The story of Deep Throat is the story of the last gasp of the forces lined up against the cultural and sexual revolution and it is the advent of the entry of pornography into the mainstream," said Weiner.
Mark Felt, the agent who ironically came to be known as Deep Throat for his whistleblowing role in the 1974 Watergate scandal, was second in command at the bureau at the time and would have known about the investigation, the files sest.
The information has been gleaned from 498 pages taken from the FBI file on Gerard Damiano, the movie's director, who died in October. The full file is 4,800 pages long. More than 1,000 pages have been withheld by the bureau due to exemptions under the act, while others have not yet been reviewed by AP.
Among the concealed areas of the case file is an interview with the film's star, Linda Susan Boreman, credited as Linda Lovelace. Boreman, who died after a car accident in 2002, defended the movie and its makers until 1980, when she made a rapid about-turn and denounced her career.
She claimed she had been forced into pornography by her sadistic first husband, Chuck Traynor, at gunpoint. In 1986 she testified before the Ronald Reagan-ordered Meese commission into pornography, saying that "virtually every time someone watches that movie, they're watching me being raped".
Deep Throat is among the most notorious porn films ever made, and its title became a cultural buzzword. US authorities have long sested it was backed by members of the Colombo crime family, though no mention of mob connections is made in the Damiano file.
It emerges that the FBI backed obscenity trials and attempted to halt screenings for years after the film debuted in cinemas, but ultimately failed to halt the rise of more open-minded thinking in the US.
"Certainly today, with our broadly socially less restrictive attitude to most pornography and to sex it may seem odd that the government was spending so much effort on something like this," Eugene Volokh, a law professor at UCLA, told AP. "But attitudes back then were much different."