“Larry Flynt for President tells a story so wild that the documentary plays as a succulent time machine of sordid 1980s mishegas.”—Owen Gleiberman, Variety
A new film chronicles the legendary publisher’s run for the White House. HUSTLER sits down with Nadia Szold, the bold director who brought it to the screen.
HUSTLER’s publisher had previously been the focus of Milos Forman’s 1996 Hollywood movie The People vs. Larry Flynt, starring Woody Harrelson, and the 2007 documentary Larry Flynt: The Right to Be Left Alone. Now writer/director Nadia Szold focuses on the quixotic and chaotic White House bid by the iconic free speech advocate. In 1983, some five years after being shot in an assassination attempt in Georgia, the First Amendment champion tried to galvanize the New Left and counterculture movements in a crusade against the creeping conservatism of America. To tell this story, Szold conducted “current-day interviews and edited together all this footage that had been lying dormant for 35 years.” The decades-old footage was culled from a documentary project by producer Steve Lindsey that was never completed. The current 90-minute production chronicling Flynt’s campaign world-premiered to acclaim at the Tribeca Film Festival in June.
Interviewed via Zoom at her home in Ojai, California, the eloquent Szold described Flynt’s Presidential bid as being “totally punk rock. He was too young in the ’60s—he was in the military—and then he was too busy making money in the ’70s with his HUSTLER clubs and magazine to really pay any attention to what was going on in the country culturally…besides the sexual revolution, which he was a huge part of. He was a bridging factor for the truck drivers, the coal miners, all the HUSTLER readers across the board, who were brought into the sexual revolution through HUSTLER Magazine. Larry felt like he missed out, and he wanted to bring back the revolutionary spirit of the ’60s at a time when the country really didn’t give a shit. So he was in the wrong place at the wrong time—that was what was so interesting for me to document.”
The result, a riveting documentary, is full of surprises. “Larry ran as a Republican because, as he said, he was ‘wealthy, white and pornographic.’ He was a lifelong Democrat…but ran as a Republican because Larry really wanted to get on the stage with Ronald Reagan during the primaries and bring up issues about freedom of speech, diversity, Native American rights,” Szold explained.