THE PEOPLE VS. LARRY FLYNT   (1996)
Key Passages

-- approximate times given are marked from the beginning of the DVD --


0:04:24  Kentucky 1952
Jimmy: Why'd you hit him?
Larry: He was drinkin' my profits.
Jimmy: Can't be so ornery.  People think you're crazy.
Larry: Nah.  I'm just tryin' to make . . . an honest buck.

0:13:43  Meeting With Althea
Althea: Come on, one more time.
Larry: "Come one more time?"  C'mon Althea, even Superman has his limits.
Althea: That's the problem with you, ya know, men.  Ya know?  Your batteries run out.  'Cause we, women, our batteries never run out.  We could go on and on and on . . .
Larry: Well then go fuck a woman.
Althea: "Go fuck a woman."  I do fuck women.
Larry: Excuse me?
Althea: You are not the only person in this club to have had every single woman in this club.

0:15:09  Meet Larry's Friends and Playboy
Althea: Oh, look at her tits--they're nice.
Larry: They're nice tits, but they don't look real.  I don't understand this magazine, ya know?
Althea: Well, look at her butt, that's . . .
Larry: All these fuzzy pictures, articles about I don't know what the hell they're talking about.  You guys read Playboy?
Friend 1: Well yeah.
Friend 2: Sure.
Jimmy: Yeah.
Larry: Uhmm . . . Did you, uh--excuse me, baby.  Did you enjoy this month's article on how to hook up your quadraphonic stereo system?
Friend 3: I think I missed that one.
Larry: And, uh, did you follow their advice on how to make a perfect martini?
Chester: Hey, Larry, c'mon man, move over.
Larry: Who is this magazine for anyway?  I mean, ya know, it's like if you don't make twenty thousand-plus a year,  you don't jerk off.  Seven million people buying it, and nobody's reading it.  Gentlemen, Playboy is mocking you!

0:17:04  The Personality of a Vagina
Larry: Hey, hey, hey, hey.  Look.  Uh, ya know, we're not running a flower shop here, okay?  We're selling the girl.  So, stop futzin' around with the props and the pillows and the flowers and just shoot the girl, okay?
Rudy: Okay, now let's go for that leg thing here.  Let's, uh. . . recline a little?  Yeah, let's see, open up them legs a little bit.  That's right.  Now give me a bit wider than that.  That's it.  Now give me a little wider.  A little wider . . .  Just a little touch wider.  No, baby, not quite that wide.
Larry: Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait.  No, that, get back to that--that's exactly what we want.  Hey, okay?  That's perfect.  Leave it right there.  That's what you want.  A woman's vagina has as much personality as her face.
Rudy: But you can't show the genitalia!
Larry: Why not?
Jimmy: Well, Larry, Rudy's right.  You can't show, legally--you can't show the vagina.
Larry: Hey, shut up Jimmy.  Rudy, are you a religious man?
Rudy: Yeah.
Larry: Okay, you believe God created man?
Rudy: Yeah . . .
Larry: God created woman?
Rudy: Yeah.
Larry: Then surely the same God created her vagina.  And who are you to defy God?  Just shoot her!

0:21:51  Citizens for Decent Literature
Charles Keating: A teacher educates our children, and they become model citizens.  The clergyman preaches, and we find spirituality.  My bank gives loans, and homes get built.  But now, there's a new, darker influence in Cincinnati.  Mr. Leis, if you would . . .
Leis: Ladies and Gentlemen, I'm going to ask that you review this material very, very carefully.  Because it's important that you know, that I did not buy these at a smut store.  These were not purchased at a . . . dirty book shop.  I bought this at a neighborhood grocery store in full view of our children.
Keating: Ma'am, you cannot hide from this.  Decent people are being corrupted.  Why, just look what happened to our fine governor.  As member of the Citizens for Decent Literature we cannot relent.  We must prevent the destruction of the soul of our country.

0:26:46  The Jacuzzi
Althea: Larry?
Larry: Yeah?
Althea: Did you ever think about gettin' married?
Larry: Oh, God!  Ya know, there's nothing more certain to ruin a beautiful relationship than marriage.  As soon as you get that ring around the finger, okay?  Suddenly you have an ownership situation.  Prior to that . . . it's friendly!  You're kind to each other.  I'll tell you something, as much as I love you, I want a variety of different . . . vagina, pussy.  I, I, I'm addicted . . .
Althea: What did we just do?
Larry: That's what I'm talking about.  Why are you bringing this up?
Althea: Well, well what am I?  So, do you think I'm talking about monogamy?  Do you think that I'm talking about . . .
Larry: You're not talking about monogamy?
Althea: No, of course not!  Larry, how could you misunderstand me?
Larry: Ya see I was wondering 'cause I thought . . .
Althea: I don't want to get married and stop the way that we live.  The way that we live is great.  Nothing would change.  My God.
Larry: Why, why now?
Althea: Because . . . I only wanna be with you.  You're the only man I wanna be with.  I want this ring on my finger to tell me that you love me above all other women.
Larry: You want a ceremony?
Althea: I wanna go to a church . . .
Larry: Yes, we'll pay the . . .
Althea: I wanna stand in front of a preacher . . .
Larry: We'll pay the preacher on the way in, and we'll get a "cashectomy" from the, uh, lawyer on the way out.
Althea: You are my life.  You're my life.  I am here for . . .
Larry: You're my life too.
Althea:  . . . rest of my life.
Larry: Right now, right here, my life.  I can't speak for twenty years down the line . . .
Althea: I can.
Larry: You can?
Althea: Yeah.
Larry: Let me say something.
Althea: Oh man! Just forget I brought it up!
Larry: Listen to what--
Althea: Larry! Just forget I brought it up . . .
Larry: Listen to what I'm saying, listen to what I'm saying.  Listen to what I'm saying?  Would you marry me?

0:32:08  Meeting with Alan
Larry: Ya know, I don't understand why they've singled me out.
Alan: Ok, look, Mr. Flynt, this case is bigger than just you and your magazine.  In your case, what's a little more troubling is this organized crime charge.
Althea: Organized crime?  Larry's not in the mob.
Alan: Mr. Flynt, I just gotta ask you one time.  Do you have any connections in any way to organized crime?
Larry: Absolutely not.
Alan: I gotta ask.
Larry: Eh, oh, by the way, call me Larry.
Alan: All right.  In that case, Larry, this is a completely bullshit charge.  But we have to take this seriously, because you could conceivably be looking at seven to twenty-five years.
Larry: Twenty-five years?  Eh, uh, all I'm guilty of is bad taste!

0:35:12  Hamilton County Courthouse 1977
Mr. Leis: Mr. Flynt, would you please turn to page 77?  Would you describe to the jury what is on page 77, please, sir?
Larry: Uh, it's a picture of Santa Claus.
Mr. Leis: What is Santa Claus doing?
Larry: He's talking to Mrs. Claus and uh, holding in his hand what appears to be a large erect penis.
Mr. Leis: And would you read the caption under that cartoon, please?
Larry: Uh, it says, "This is what I've got to 'ho-ho-ho' about."
Mr. Leis: Mr. Flynt, do you think that the founding fathers had a cartoon like this in mind when they wrote the First Amendment to our great constitution?
Larry: Well, no, but I don't think they necessary had Playboy in mind, or People either for that matter, 'cause I saw a couple of four letter words in there a few weeks back.
Mr. Leis: But isn't a community allowed to set its own standards?
Larry: No.  That's just a disguise for censorship.  This country belongs to me as much as it belongs to you, Mr. Leis. And if you don't like Hustler magazine, don't read it.
Mr. Leis: I don't.  But what about the innocent children who gaze upon your magazine in our grocery stores?
Larry: Well, look.  Uh, ya know, uh, if a kid gets caught drinking beer in a tavern we don't ban Budweiser across the nation.
Alan: Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, you've heard a lot here today and I'm not gonna try to go back over it all again for you.  But you have to go back in that room and make some decisions . . . and, and there is one thing I want to make very, very clear to you before you do.  I am not trying to convince you that you should like what Larry Flynt does.  I, I don't like what Larry Flynt does.  But what I do like is that I live in a country where you and I can make that decision for ourselves.  I like that I live in a country where I can pick up Hustler magazine and read it if I want to . . . or throw it in the garbage can if I think that's where it belongs.  Or better yet, I can exercise my opinion and not buy it.  I like that I have that right.  I care about it.  And you should care about it too, you really should . . . because we live in a free country.  Ya know, we say that a lot, but I think sometimes we forget really what that means, so listen to it again.  We live in a free country.  And that it a powerful idea.  That's a, that's a magnificent way to live.  But there is a price for that freedom, which is that sometimes we have to tolerate things that we don't necessarily like.  So go back into that room, where you are free to think whatever you want to think about Larry Flynt and Hustler magazine.  But then ask yourselves if you want to make that decision for the rest of us . . . because the freedom that everyone in this room enjoys is, in a very real way, in your hands.  And if we start throwing up walls against what some of us think is obscene, we may very well wake up one morning and realize that walls have been thrown up in all kinds of places that we never expected . . . and we can't see anything or do anything.  And, and that's not freedom.  That is not freedom.  So, be careful.  Thank you.

0:43:54  Americans for a Free Press
Larry: I have a thought for you.  Murder is illegal . . . but you take a picture of somebody committing the act of murder, and they'll put you on the cover of Newsweek!  You might even win a Pulitzer Prize.  And yet, sex is legal.  Everybody's doing it, or everybody wants to be doing it, ha?  Yet, you take a picture of two people in the act of sex or just take a picture of a woman's naked body . . . and they'll put you in jail.  Now I have a message for all of you good, moral, Christian people who are complaining that breasts and vaginas are obscene.  Hey, don't complain to me, complain to the manufacturer!  Okay, and although Jesus told us not to judge, I know you're going to judge anyway--so judge sanely.  Judge with your eyes open.  What do you consider obscene?  Is this obscene to you? (0:44:47)  Or perhaps that's obscene to you.  Maybe this is obscene to you.  But, what is more obscene--this . . . or this?  This . . . or this?  Ya know, politicians and demagogues like to say that sexually explicit material corrupts the youth of our country.  And yet they lie, cheat, and start unholy wars!  Look at them.  They call themselves, men--they're sheep in a herd.  I think the real obscenity comes from raising our youth to believe that sex is bad and ugly and dirty, and yet it is heroic to go spill guts and blood in the most ghastly manner in the name of humanity.  With all the taboos attached to sex, it's no wonder we have the problems we have.  It's no wonder we're angry and violent and genocidal.  But ask yourself the question, what is more obscene--sex . . . or war?

1:00:51  Gwinnett County Court
Attorney: Mr. Flynt, how can you as a good, Christian defend this filth?
Larry: I don't have to.  It may be wrong, in some people's opinion to, uh, portray women the way I have.  But it's not illegal.  It may not be the smartest thing in the world to have too much to drink, but it's not illegal.  Now, abortion may be morally repugnant--but right now, it's not illegal.  Now if we want to change the laws, that's another discussion but our right to decide for ourselves cannot be restricted!  Ya know, George Orwell said, that . . . if liberty means anything it means the right to tell people what they don't wanna hear.  Now, America. . . is the strongest country in the world today, only because it is the freest country.  And if it ever loses sight of its basic heritage and the principles involved . . . then we will no longer be free.

1:14:35  Back to Flynt Publications
Larry: The pervert is back!  What's your name?
Secretary: Sophie.
Larry: Tell everybody the pervert is back.
Sophie: The, the pervert is back.  The pervert is back.  The pervert is back.
Larry: Circulation is down by a third.  The color reproduction is horrible.  The models look like they're. . . three dollar whores.  The writing is by some moronic idiot.
V.P. of Marketing: Uh, Mr. Flynt?  I don't wanna step on your toes, but things have changed since you were actively running the company.  I mean, I look back at the stuff you did in the seventies and it was, uh, sort of racy and crazy. . . but the country's different now.  Reagan has rebuilt America and the moral majority is gaining power.
Larry: You're fired.
V.P. of Marketing: Excuse me?
Larry: You . . . get the fuck out of my building.  Doug--get him outta here!  He's a blow-dried jerk motherfucker!
Althea: Bye bye!
Larry: Take him outta here and throw him in the incinerator, cut him to little pieces and feed him to the animals out there!  Get outta here!

1:24:58  Misbehaving in Court: Part II
Judge: Sir, you're going to have to take that helmet off.  We don't wear hats in the federal court room, and there's no war going on around here.
Larry: Well, you can never be too careful, Your Honor.
Judge: Well, don't worry, Mr. Flynt, the United States government will take care of you.  We brought some extra marshals in here today, so I'd appreciate your taking off that helmet.  So, sir, tell me--are you here now to obey the court's order and reveal the source of the videotape . . . or are you gonna pay the ten thousand dollars that I ordered?
Alan: Your Honor, I'd like a moment with my client.
Larry: No!  I don't need a moment.  It is my right under the freedom of the First Amendment to protect my sources.
Alan: Listen, listen, listen to me.  Don't go any further.
Larry: Hey, hey . . .
Alan: Let me talk . . .
Larry: Shut up!  Relax, Alan, relax . . .
Judge: Mr. Flynt, is that an American flag you have on there, sir?
Larry: I have fashioned this American flag into a diaper, because if you're gonna treat me like a baby, I'm gonna act like one.
Judge: Larry Flynt, I'm ordering you arrested for desecration of the American flag.  Marshal, take him into custody.

1:45:03  Falwell's Views
Reverend Falwell: This ruling shows that nobody can prostitute the First Amendment.  Pornography has thrust its ugly head into our everyday lives.  The billion dollar sex industry of which Larry Flynt is a self-described leader . . . lust and greed have replaced decency and morality.  We must make a solemn commitment to God Almighty to turn this nation around immediately.

1:51:48  Falwell on Television
Reverend Falwell: You cannot mock God.  You cannot fool God.   If you violate His laws, God Almighty will judge you.  AIDS is a plague.  These perverted lifestyles have to stop.  If you break moral laws, you reap the whirlwind.
Larry: Alan, it's Larry.  I want to appeal the Falwell case.

1:52:19  A Plea to Alan
Alan: This is over--over!
Larry: No it's not over.  We can go higher.
Alan: Higher?
Larry: The Supreme Court!
Alan: Yeah . . .
Larry: Give 'em a cal l. . .
Alan: It's not that simple, Larry.  It's not that simple, you . . . Thousands of people every year petition the Supreme Court.  Okay?  Thousands.
Larry: And our case is as good as any!
Alan: Our case is better than most of them.  You're missing my point.  My point is, they will never pick you. . . because you're a nightmare!  They're afraid if they let you in the court, you're gonna wear a diaper . . . or throw oranges at the justices--and they should be, Larry.  Because, in all the times that you've gone to the court asking for help, you've never once demonstrated any respect for its institutions and procedures.  So, as far as they're concerned, you're just a pig!
Larry: Well. . . well, you always said it's the principle.  A pig has the same rights as the president.
Alan: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.  That's, ya know, people get tired of a pig, Larry.
Larry: Bullshit.  You're scared, Alan. You're scared.  You're letting these guys steamroll  over you.
Alan: It's not just them, Larry, okay?  It's me.  It's me.  I am not taking you.  Lawyers dream about a case like this in front of the Supreme Court.  Dream of it!  And they would probably hear us, if you wanna know the truth, but I am not going with you!  I have been giving you my best since back when people were laughing at you.  And every time I come in there now, you fuck me with this bullshit circus act!  And I won't do it again.  I can't.  I'm not gonna do it in front of the Supreme Court of the United States.  I'm . . . I'm just not.  You're . . . you're sentimental speeches and you're cornball patriotism, they jus t. . . they don't work on me anymore, Lar, 'cause I don't believe you.  I don't believe you.
Larry: You . . . you're my . . .  You're my friend, Alan.  We're friends.  I, I jus t. . . I would love to be. . . remembered for something . . . meaningful.

1:56:16  The Supreme Court 1987
Alan: Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the court . . . One of the most cherished ideas that we hold in this country is that there should be uninhibited public debate and freedom of speech.  Now, the question you have before you today is whether a public figure's right to protection from emotional distress should outweigh the public interest in allowing every citizen of this country to freely express his views.
Justice #1: But what was the view expressed in exhibit "A"?
Alan: Well, uh, to begin with, this is uh, a parody of a known Campari ad.
Justice #1: I understand . . . Go ahead.
Alan: Okay.  Also, and more importantly, it was a satire of a public figure--of Jerry Falwell, who in this case, was really, uh, a prime candidate for such a satire, uh, because he's such an unlikely person to appear in a liquor ad.  This, this is a person that we are used to seeing at the pulpit, Bible in hand, preaching with a, a famously beatific smile on his face.
Justice #1: But what is the public interest you are describing?  That there is some interest in making him look ludicrous?
Alan: Yes, yes Your Honor, there is a public interest in making Jerry Falwell look ludicrous insofar as there is a public interest in having Hustler magazine express the point of view that Jerry Falwell is full of B.S!  And, and Hustler magazine has every right to express this view.  Um, they have the right to say that, uh, somebody who has campaigned actively against their magazine, who has told people not to buy it, who has, uh, publicly said, that it, uh, poisons the minds of Americans . . . who, in addition, has told people that sex out of wedlock is, is, uh, immoral, uh, that they shouldn't drink . . .  Hustler magazine has a, a First Amendment right to publicly respond to these comments, uh, by saying that Jerry Falwell is full of B.S.  It, it says, "Let's deflate this stuffed shirt and bring him down to our level."  Our level, in this case, being, admittedly, a lower level than most people would like to be brought to.  Uh, I apologize--I know I'm not supposed to joke, but that's sort of the point.
Justice #2: Mr. Isaacman, the First Amendment is not everything.  I mean, it's a, a very important value, but it's not the only value in our society.  What about another value which says that good people should be able to enter public life and public service?  The rule you give us says, that if you stand for public office or become a public figure in any way, you cannot protect yourself, or, indeed, your mother against a parody of you committing incest with her in an outhouse.  Now, do you think that, uh, George Washington would've stood for public office if that was the consequence? (1:59:05)
Alan: Uh, it's interesting that you mention George Washington, Justice Scalia, because very recently I saw a political cartoon that's over 200 years old.  Um, it depicts George Washington riding on a donkey, being led by a man and the caption--uh, the caption suggests that this man is leading an ass to Washington.
Justice #2: I can handle that.  I think George can handle that.  But that's a far cry from committing incest with your mother in an outhouse.  I mean . . . there's no line between the two?
Alan: Uh, no, Justice Scalia, I would say that there is no line between the two because really, what you're talking about is a matter of taste and not law.  As, as you, yourself said, I believe, in Pope vs. Illinois, "It's useless to argue about taste and even more useless to litigate it."  And that is the case here.  Uh, the jury has already determined for us, that this is, is a matter of taste, and not a matter of law because they've said that there is no libelous speech, that nobody could reasonably believe that Hustler was actually suggesting that Jerry Falwell had sex with his mother.
Justice #3: So why did Hustler have him and his mother together?
Alan: Hustler puts him and his mother together in, in a example of literary travesty, if you will.
Justice #3: And what public purpose does this serve?
Alan: Well, it serves the same public purpose as having Garry Trudeau say that Reagan has no brain, or that George Bush is a wimp.  It lets us look at public figures a little bit differently.  We, we have a long tradition in this country of satiric commentary.  Now, if, if, Jerry Falwell can sue when there has been no libelous speech--purely on the grounds of emotional distress, then so can other public figures.  And, imagine, if you will, suits against people like . . . Garry Trudeau and Johnny Carson, for what he says on the Tonight Show tonight.  Obviously, when, when people criticize, uh, public figures they're going to experience emotional distress.  We all know that.  Uh, it's the easiest thing in the world to claim and it's impossible to refute--and that's what makes it a meaningless standard.  Really, all it does, is allow us to punish unpopular speech. (2:01:07)  And, and, this country is founded, at least, in part, uh, on the firm believe that unpopular speech is absolutely vital to the health of our nation.
Justice #4: Thank you, Mr. Isaacman.

2:03:37  The Decision
Larry: Hello?
Alan: It's Alan.  They just brought the decision in.
Larry: Well is it good or bad?
Alan: Well, it's an unanimous decision, Larry, and Rehnquist wrote it himself.
Larry: Is it good or bad?
Alan: Yeah, I want you to hear this.  "At the heart of the First Amendment is the recognition of the fundamental importance of the free flow of ideas.  Freedom to speak one's own mind is not only an aspect of individual liberty, but essential to the quest for truth and the vitality of society as a whole.  In the world of debate about public affairs many things done with motives that are less than admirable are nonetheless protected by the First Amendment."
 
 

Copyright (c) 2003 by Stephanie McElroy, Undergraduate at Lehigh University.

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