The People vs. Larry Flynt (1996)

Larry Flynt, publisher of Hustler magazine, died just a few weeks ago. I remember following his “career” when I was in high school. I was always fascinated by the eccentric behavior displayed by the publisher.

With his death, I decided to revisit the biopic from 1996, The People vs. Larry Flynt starring Woody Harrelson, Courtney Love and Edward Norton.

This role was one of the earliest efforts of Woody Harrelson to break away from the Cheers sitcom world. Coming off the Natural Born Killers, this movie placed Harrelson into a new stratosphere of his career. Harrelson was nominated for his first Academy Award for this biopic.

The controversial publisher’s life is examined in this biopic, focusing on his rise to the top of the nudie magazine world and his constant court battles against those looking to bring him down. It is odd to buy, but Larry Flynt was always a proponent of the First Amendment of the Constitution. Wrapping himself in the Constitution, Flynt acted the fool to bring the contempt for his opposition.

Not only is Harrelson tremendous, so was Courtney Love. Courtney Love, playing Flynt’s wife Althea, transformed herself from stripper to eventual victim of AIDS. Althea and Flynt had a complicated relationship but the film does a great job of presenting how much they loved each other. The chemistry between Harrelson and Love was obvious every second they shared the screen.

It was weird to see James Carville, well known Democratic political strategist, appearing as the prosecutor Simon Leis who worked on Flynt’s first trial. Looking at his list of credits on IMDB, he has spent the most of his acting career playing James Carville (he was also in the Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford).

The People vs. Larry Flynt was an impressive biopic and truly does have something to say.

RIP Larry.

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