'Lovelace' Biopic Didn't Rip Off 'Deep Throat'
MANHATTAN (CN) - The biographical film depicting the life of "Deep Throat" star Linda Lovelace "clearly constitutes a transformative use" of the taboo-busting skin flick it depicts, a federal judge ruled.
"The heart, or core, of 'Deep Throat' is that it is a pornographic film that in particular, focuses on one type of pornographic act," U.S. District Judge Thomas Griesa wrote Monday. "Conversely, 'Lovelace' has an entirely different purpose - it is a critical, biographical film."
The makers of the fellatio-focused film, Arrow Productions Ltd., sued the Weinstein Co., six corporate co-producers and two individuals three days before the release of their movie "Lovelace" last year.
Starring Amanda Seyfried as the "Deep Throat" star born Linda Boreman, "Lovelace" was a critical and box-office flop, grossing far short of its budget and winning positive reviews from only 53 percent of critics on Rotten Tomatoes.
Its legal drama received a Hollywood ending on Monday, however, as a federal judge rejected the pornographer's copyright complaints.
Griesa parsed the similarities and differences between the two films in clinical detail throughout his ruling.
He begins with this summary of the 1972 porn film of a woman's "search for sexual fulfillment."
"Along the way, Lovelace meets Dr. Young who diagnoses her unusual problem and tells her that she can only achieve sexual satisfaction by performing oral sex (or, more specifically, the act which is the title of the film) because her clitoris is in her throat," the 27-page opinion states. "In the end, Lovelace is finally able to achieve sexual fulfillment."
"Lovelace," which does not feature any nudity, delves into Boreman's "control, abuse and manipulation" by her ex-husband, Chuck Traynor, and her anti-pornography later activism.
Arrow Productions protested three scenes of the biopic that it claimed bore too much similarity to the original.
One of these scenes involves the "classic scene" transitioning from a "faux-medical consultation to a sexual encounter between Dr. Young and his patient, Lovelace," the judge wrote.
"Lovelace" cuts out the sex scene of the original film to provide a "behind-the-scenes account of its young, inexperienced, and susceptible star," according to the opinion.
Griesa noted as an example that, "after Dr. Young ejaculates prematurely, she turns to the directors and in a moment of unintended comedy says, 'I'm really sorry. Did I do something wrong?'"
"Of course, she has not done anything wrong," Griesa added.
But the judge found that none of the scenes that "Lovelace" recreated infringe upon the "Deep Throat."
"In all, the three recreated scenes, which mostly contain original dialogue, last for roughly four minutes - comparatively, the running time for 'Deep Throat' is sixty-one minutes," the opinion states. "Defendants chose three scenes to recreate and each scene, as discussed above, serves a distinct and important purpose in telling the story of Linda Lovelace. The court finds that defendants did not copy any more than necessary to achieve its creative purposes."
Pryor Cashman attorney Tom Ferber, representing Weinstein and other defendants, applauded the ruling.
"We have believed since the inception of the case that intellectual property law, recognizing the importance of critical biographies like 'Lovelace,' supports our position that the film infringed no one's rights and we are gratified that the court has agreed with us," Cashman said in an email.
Attorneys for Arrow did not return a request for comment.