Film and TV

15 Years of Paul Thomas Anderson's Boogie Nights: My Ten Favorite Things

Fifteen years ago this week, my second favorite Paul Thomas Anderson movie, Boogie Nights, hit theaters. The '70s porn chronicle/family drama/comedy/crime caper remains a gem in the PTA catalog, and it's infinitely re-watchable.

(My favorite is There Will Be Blood, which turns five this season, too.)

Perhaps the biggest news about the movie in the run-up to its release -- besides being about the first golden age of porn in the late '70s -- was that Mark Wahlberg would be doing full frontal, extremely large full frontal.

By 1997, all vestiges of his former "Marky Mark" self had all been largely lost under increasingly dramatic, weighty film roles. His Dirk Diggler would become one of his most iconic roles, though Tommy Corn from I Heart Huckabees is my favorite Wahlberg job.

Anderson's last film, Hard Eight, was a critical darling, and no one would have expected something as sprawling as Boogie Nights, and surely not as profane and provocative.

This film was also robbed at Oscar time. In hindsight, The Full Monty and As Good as It Gets are wastes of space on the ballot. Today, Boogie Nights is relatively tame in a world of various shades of grey and online porn.

The film is also one of the most readily quotable, at least in my life, thanks to the great work of Anderson, turning in easily his best dialog. I can't remember a week in my life when I didn't say something from Anderson's Boogie screenplay.

"Where the fuck is Ringo, you bitch?!"

"Speed it up a couple of octaves!"

Anyhow, the film was one of the best of 1997, standing next to L.A. Confidential, the sinking boat movie, the one about the genius janitor and, of course, Quentin Tarantino's Jackie Brown.

The Burt Reynolds

He was really born to play producer and director Jack Horner. Sadly, he didn't really capitalize on his new hipster and industry cachet after the movie earned him a Best Supporting Actor nod. At. All.

Naked Heather Graham

And the world was never the same. Besides being hot and naked, Graham was magnificent as Roller Girl, a character destined to become a Halloween mainstay for blonds everywhere. The scene where she beats a college guy senseless with her skates is priceless and riveting. She also hasn't aged in the past 15 years.

The Scene in Rahad Jackson's House

A heist gone wrong, "Jessie's Girl" and a nearly unrecognizable Thomas Jane made for the best few minutes on screen in 1997.

"Little" Bill Thompson and His Wife

Yes, that was porn grande dame Nina Hartley as his wife, the one with "an ass in her cock" in the driveway, who was shot and killed on New Year's Eve for being herself, really. "Little" Bill then commits suicide in front of the party.

The Soundtrack(s)

I own them both. I have to. Night Ranger, ELO, Melanie and Three Dog Night???

John C. Reilly as Reed Rothchild

He was basically playing every John C. Reilly character of the past five years, 15 years ago. That's the same guy from Step Brothers, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby and Walk Hard. I can't even remember when he was a serious actor anymore.

Poor Scotty J.

As far as Philip Seymour Hoffman roles go, this one gets overlooked under Truman Capote, Lester Bangs, Phil Parma and Allen from Happiness. Hoffman's gay, frustrated boom operator Scotty is the most sympathetic face in Boogie Nights. You feel for him when he tries to impress Dirk Diggler with his new car. Where would his character be now?

This Scene

The Criterion DVD Slays

Two discs full of extras, shorts, great outtakes and tons of other PTA savory goodness. I dig into it every few months just for fun.

"Get some new shit"

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Craig Hlavaty
Contact: Craig Hlavaty