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People vs. Larry Flynt, The (1996, Woody Harrelson, Courtney Love)

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Milos Forman has long been associated with studies of madness and individuality, since the Oscar-winning One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest in 1975. Most recently, Forman took this subject (to mixed reviews) to a sophisticated extreme in Man On The Moon , a biopic of eccentric American comedian Andy Kaufman.

Kaufman’s heroism was his almost noble pursuit of pure artistic freedom – a very different proposition from Larry Flynt, a blue-collar pornographer from the backwoods of Kentucky. Forman paints Flynt as another kind of hero, admirable in his own perverse way, if only because of his commitment to freedom of expression. Flynt (Oscar nominated WOODY HARRELSON) begins building his sex empire from scratch, managing go-go bars and strip clubs, before launching Hustler , the magazine that captured the hearts and groins of working-class America and scandalised the Establishment.

Scripted by the duo responsible for Ed Wood and Man On The Moon , the film is a subversive movie that manages to put a shine on its potentially grubby subject. After the publication of the first Hustler , which immediately fell foul of America’s obscenity laws, the film settles back to concentrate on Flynt’s relentless running courtroom battles with the government.

Represented by his weary lawyer Alan Isaacman (ED NORTON), Flynt’s fight for free speech reaches increasingly vulgar new heights. ‘I’m your dream client,’ Flynt tells him. ‘I’m the most fun, I’m rich and I’m always in trouble.’

But although publicity is good for his business, it turns out to be bad for his health. Now a figurehead for the ‘immoral’ permissive society, Flynt literally comes under fire from right-wing hate groups, and a would-be assassin’s bullet leaves him confined to a wheelchair.

Flynt is presented as a complex figure: passionate, honest, hard-working, yet ploughing all his efforts into a dubious enterprise. He’s no Oscar Wilde either – Flynt’s idea of political satire is to stand trial in a nappy – but Forman shows there’s plenty to admire in this cranky, fiercely proud individual. Offsetting the heavy political agenda is a sweet but doomed love story, with rock’n’roll icon COURTNEY LOVE as Flynt’s bisexual, drug-addicted stripper wife Althea, whose memory still haunts his millionaire mansion.

production details
USA | 129 minutes | 1996

Director: Miloš Forman
Script: Scott Alexander, Larry Karaszewski

cast
Woody Harrelson as Larry Flynt
Courtney Love as Althea Leasure
Edward Norton as Alan Isaacman
Brett Harrelson as Jimmy Flynt
Donna Hanover as Ruth Carter Stapleton
James Cromwell as Charles Keating
Crispin Glover as Arlo
Vincent Schiavelli as Chester
Larry Flynt as Judge Morrissey – Cincinnati Court
Norm Macdonald as Network Reporter
Miles Chapin as Miles
James Carville as Simon Leis
Richard Paul as Reverend Jerry Falwell
Burt Neuborne as Roy Grutman
Jan Tříska as The Assassin
Block, Cody as 10-Year-Old Larry
Ryan Post as 8-Year-Old Jimmy
Robert Davis as Old Hillbilly
Kacky Walton as Young Ma Flynt
Kathleen Kane as 1st Stripper
Greg Roberson as Disc Jockey
Jim Peck as Old Printer
Mike Pniewski as Trucker
Tim Parati as Staffer
Rainbeau Mars as Tovah
Nancy Lea Owen as Ma Flynt
John Fergus Ryan as Pa Flynt
Scott William Winters as Blow Dried Jerk
Andy Stahl as Network Lawyer
Gerry Robert Byrne as Butler
Jim Grimshaw as Chief Justice William Rehnquist
Jack Shea as Reporter
Michael Q. Davis as Georgia Reporter
Ann Marie Hall as Georgia Reporter
Nate Bynum as Georgia Reporter
Jim Palmer as Falwell Reporter

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