'Deep Throat', the biggest porn film ever, is cleared for release

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Deep Throat, the most infamous and lucrative porn film ever made, is to be shown in UK cinemas for the first time after a landmark decision by film censors.

Deep Throat, the most infamous and lucrative porn film ever made, is to be shown in UK cinemas for the first time after a landmark decision by film censors.

The film, whose star Linda Lovelace claimed that she was forced to perform fellatio for the cameras and who later campaigned against porn, has been given a certificate for cinema release. Its distributor is negotiating screenings at independent chains, among them City Screen.

The film will be shown alongside a newly made documentary about the movie called Inside Deep Throat which examines its making and the effect of its taking porn into the mainstream.

Although Deep Throat was widely seen in the US, in the UK it has been shown only in sex cinemas. It became possible to buy it on video or DVD at sex shops following a change in guidelines applied by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) in 2000.

Deep Throat was made for little more than £10,000 in 1972, yet it is believed to have made more than £300m. Lovelace, who died in a car crash three years ago, said she made the movie only because her husband at the time, Chuck Traynor, threatened her.

"I knew the feeling of a gun to my back and hearing the click, never knowing when there was going to be a real bullet," she wrote in her 1980 autobiography Ordeal.

Her version of events, denied by others involved in the film, led to her becoming a cause célèbre for anti-porn campaigners. In the 1980s she testified about the dangers of pornography before Congress.

Because of the film's content, the BBFC has taken the unusual move of giving it an R18 rating. It will be only the second such movie with that certificate to be screened in British cinemas. The other, The Good Old Naughty Days, was a black and white curio filmed in France a century ago.

A spokeswoman for the film's distributor, Momentum Picture, said the release of Deep Throat was merely to put the documentary into context. There will be strict safeguards over screenings of the film. Cinemas will need to seek a special dispensation from local authorities; they must operate a membership scheme, and there must be no under-18s on the premises.

The Duke of York's Picture House in Brighton has lined up late-night weekend screenings and a number of City Screen's cinemas, including those in Liverpool, Edinburgh and Cambridge, are hoping to show it. Jason Wood, a film programmer for the City Screen chain, said this would not start a trend for screening porn films. "Our Brighton cinema is a very on-the-edge, experimental cinema and we show a lot of outré films. We're not going to go down the route of continually playing hardcore films.

"I would say there is no artistic reason for us showing Deep Throat. It is really as a companion piece. Inside Deep Throat does have artistic value and explores some very interesting things, not so much the hardcore pornography but the fact that it later emerged that Linda Lovelace was in a 'slavery' situation."

John Beyer of the campaign group Mediawatch-UK thought it was a worrying move. "Film classification is something that needs a thoroughgoing review," he said. "[Its history] has been to relax at every opportunity to accommodate every whim of film-makers."

ANATOMY OF A CAUSE CELEBRE

* Deep Throat took porn into the mainstream in the US, its thin plot helping it to play in major cinemas.

* It was shot over six days in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and lasts an hour. Lovelace's entire film career amounts to five hours on screen.

* Co-star Harry Reems starred in more than 100 adult films, then found God and went into real estate.

* The title became so well-known that a Washington Post editor used it as a pseudonym for a Watergate informer.

* Profits from Deep Throat were used to finance other films, including The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, branded a video nasty.

* Courtney Love is lined up to play Lovelace in a new biopic about the actress-turned-campaigner.

* Lovelace, real name Linda Boreman, died in 2002 at the age of 53, as a result of a car crash.

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