Legal Analysis of The People vs. Larry Flynt

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorCollege, Undergraduate February 2008

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1996's The People Vs. Larry Flynt functions as a general biography of Larry Flynt, but it focuses on his legal shenanigans to a large degree. The flick starts with a prologue set in Kentucky circa 1952. There we see the child version of Flynt as he makes bucks peddling moonshine in his backwoods environment. From there the movie quickly jumps to 1972 and we meet the adult Larry (Woody Harrelson) in Cincinnati. He owns a strip joint with his younger brother Jimmy (Brett Harrelson). The place isn't doing so hot, so Larry decides to advertise his dancers via a pictorial newsletter. When this little effort becomes popular, Larry wants to publish a real magazine with professional photography. He encourages the models to display their privates in gynecological detail, which ultimately gets him into trouble with vendors.

In the meantime, Larry meets an underage dancer called "Calamity Jane". Really named Althea (Courtney Love), the pair quickly fall for each other and become an inseparable pair.

Eventually Larry gets an offer to run some surreptitiously taken nude shots of Jacqueline Onassis. He publishes these, which takes Hustler into the public eye and launches it as a more nationally popular magazine. Charles Keating (James Cromwell) goes on a crusade to stop Hustler, and this ultimately leads to Flynt's arrest due to the alleged violation of community standards.

When Larry ends up in court, he gets a young lawyer named Alan Isaacman (Edward Norton). This starts a long-term relationship between the pair that will ultimately lead them to the film's primary case, a suit pursued by Reverend Jerry Falwell (Richard Paul) when he feels defamed by an ad parody in Hustler. It ends with a journey to the highest jurisdiction in the land, the Supreme Court of the United States, where constitutional freedom is...