Boogie Nights

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This article is about the 1997 film. For the Heatwave song, see Boogie Nights (song). For the UK stage musical, see Boogie Nights (musical).
Boogie Nights
Boogie nights ver1.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson
Produced by
Written by Paul Thomas Anderson
Music by Michael Penn
Cinematography Robert Elswit
Edited by Dylan Tichenor
Distributed by New Line Cinema
Release dates
  • October 10, 1997 (1997-10-10)
Running time
155 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $15 million[2]
Box office $43,101,594[2]

Boogie Nights is a 1997 American drama film written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson. It is set in Los Angeles' San Fernando Valley and focuses on a young nightclub dishwasher, Eddie Adams (Mark Wahlberg), who becomes a popular star of pornographic films, chronicling his rise in the Golden Age of Porn of the 1970s through to his fall during the excesses of the '80s. The film also features cameos by porn actresses Nina Hartley (as Little Bill's promiscuous wife) and Veronica Hart (as the custody hearing judge for Amber Waves' court case). The film is an expansion of Anderson's mockumentary short film The Dirk Diggler Story (1988).[3][4][5][6] In his audio commentary on the New Line DVD release of his film, Anderson cites reporter Mike Sager’s article from Rolling Stone, “The Devil and John Holmes”, as a major influence.[7]


In 1977, Eddie Adams is a high school dropout who lives with his stepfather and emotionally abusive alcoholic mother in Torrance, California. He works at a Reseda nightclub owned by Maurice Rodriguez, where he is discovered by porn director Jack Horner, who auditions him by watching him have sex with Rollergirl, a porn starlet who always wears skates. After a heated argument with his mother about his girlfriend and his sex life, Adams runs away from home and moves in with Horner at his San Fernando Valley home. After agreeing to enter the world of pornography, he gives himself the screen name "Dirk Diggler" and becomes a star because of his good looks, youthful charisma and extraordinarily large penis. He is idealistic and does not want to do movies with elements (such as abuse) that he views as negative. His success allows him to buy a new house, an extensive wardrobe, a "competition orange" 1976 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, and is able to pick and choose his movies. Dirk and his best friend/fellow star Reed Rothchild are featured in a series of successful action-themed porn films. Assistant director Little Bill is married to a porn star who frequently embarrasses him by having sex with other men in public. At a New Year's Eve party at Jack's house marking the year 1980, he shoots both her and her lover, then turns the gun on himself.

Jack and his main source of funding, Colonel James, have a discussion on New Year's Eve with Floyd Gondolli, a "theater" magnate in San Diego and San Francisco, who insists on cutting costs by shooting on videotape, a format that Jack detests. Subsequent to James' imprisonment for child pornography and due to the technological changes in the industry away from film and towards video tape, Jack cedes and works with Floyd. He is unhappy with the lack of scripts and character development in the projects Gondolli expects him to churn out. One of these projects involves him and Rollergirl riding in a limousine searching for random men for her to have sex with while a crew tapes it. When a man recognizes Rollergirl as a former high school classmate, he insults both her and Jack. They beat him and leave him bleeding and half-conscious on the street. Leading lady Amber Waves, who took Eddie under her wing when he joined Jack's stable of actors, finds herself in a custody battle with her former husband. The court determines she is an unfit mother due to her involvement in the porn industry, prior criminal record and cocaine addiction. Buck Swope marries fellow porn star Jessie St. Vincent, who shortly thereafter becomes pregnant. Because of his past, Buck is denied a bank loan to open a stereo equipment store. He stops at a donut shop and finds himself in the middle of a holdup. The clerk, the robber and an armed customer are killed in the resulting shootout. Buck escapes with the money and uses it to finance his store.

Dirk becomes addicted to cocaine: consequently, he finds it increasingly difficult to achieve an erection and he falls into violent mood swings. After having a falling out with Jack during a film shoot, he and Reed pursue their dream of rock and roll stardom, a move supported by Scotty, a gay boom operator who is in love with Dirk. However, they squander their money on drugs, leaving themselves unable to pay the recording studio for the demo tapes. Desperate for money, Dirk resorts to prostitution, but he is assaulted and robbed by a gang of thugs. Dirk, Reed and their friend Todd attempt to scam drug dealer Rahad Jackson by selling him a half-kilo of baking soda disguised as cocaine. Dirk and Reed wish to leave quickly before Rahad's bodyguard inspects the product, but Todd tries to rob Rahad and is killed in the ensuing gunfight. Frightened by his brush with death, Dirk reconciles with Jack. In 1984, Buck's son has been born, Reed practices a successful magic act at a topless bar, James becomes a victim of beatings in prison, and Amber finds a career in directing local commercials and porn films under Jack's guidance. Rollergirl and Dirk have moved in with Jack and are preparing to start shooting again.



The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and was shown at the New York Film Festival before opening on two screens in the U.S. on October 10, 1997. It grossed $50,168 on its opening weekend. Three weeks later, it expanded to 907 theaters and grossed $4,681,934, ranking #4 for the week. It eventually earned $26,400,640 in the U.S. and $16,700,954 in foreign markets for a worldwide box office total of $43,101,594.[8]

The film currently has 92% positive reviews on film review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes, with 60 of 65 counted reviews giving it a "fresh" rating and an average rating of 8.1 out of 10.[9] On Metacritic, the film holds an average score of 85 out of 100, based on 28 reviews.[10]

Janet Maslin of The New York Times said, "Everything about Boogie Nights is interestingly unexpected," although "the film's extravagant 2-hour 32-minute length amounts to a slight tactical mistake ... [it] has no trouble holding interest ... but the length promises larger ideas than the film finally delivers." She praised Burt Reynolds for "his best and most suavely funny performance in many years" and added, "The movie's special gift happens to be Mark Wahlberg, who gives a terrifically appealing performance."[11]

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times observed, "Few films have been more matter-of-fact, even disenchanted, about sexuality. Adult films are a business here, not a dalliance or a pastime, and one of the charms of Boogie Nights is the way it shows the everyday backstage humdrum life of porno filmmaking ... The sweep and variety of the characters have brought the movie comparisons to Robert Altman's Nashville and The Player. There is also some of the same appeal as Pulp Fiction in scenes that balance precariously between comedy and violence ... Through all the characters and all the action, Anderson's screenplay centers on the human qualities of the players ... Boogie Nights has the quality of many great films, in that it always seems alive."[12]

Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle stated, "Boogie Nights is the first great film about the 1970s to come out since the '70s ... It gets all the details right, nailing down the styles and the music. More impressive, it captures the decade's distinct, decadent glamour ... [It] also succeeds at something very difficult: re-creating the ethos and mentality of an era ... Paul Thomas Anderson ... has pulled off a wonderful, sprawling, sophisticated film ... With Boogie Nights, we know we're not just watching episodes from disparate lives but a panorama of recent social history, rendered in bold, exuberant colors."[13]

Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times called it "a startling film, but not for the obvious reasons. Yes, its decision to focus on the pornography business in the San Fernando Valley in the 1970s and 1980s is nerviness itself, but more impressive is the film's sureness of touch, its ability to be empathetic, nonjudgmental and gently satirical, to understand what is going on beneath the surface of this raunchy Nashville-esque universe and to deftly relate it to our own ... Perhaps the most exciting thing about Boogie Nights is the ease with which writer-director Anderson ... spins out this complex web. A true storyteller, able to easily mix and match moods in a playful and audacious manner, he is a filmmaker definitely worth watching, both now and in the future."[dead link][14]

Peter Travers of Rolling Stone said, "[T]his chunk of movie dynamite is detonated by Mark Wahlberg ... who grabs a breakout role and runs with it ... Even when Boogie Nights flies off course as it tracks its bizarrely idealistic characters into the '80s ... you can sense the passionate commitment at the core of this hilarious and harrowing spectacle. For this, credit Paul Thomas Anderson ... who ... scores a personal triumph by finding glints of rude life in the ashes that remained after Watergate. For all the unbridled sex, what is significant, timely and, finally, hopeful about Boogie Nights is the way Anderson proves that a movie can be mercilessly honest and mercifully humane at the same time."[15]


Two Boogie Nights soundtracks were released, the first at the time of the film's initial release and the second the following year.

Awards and nominations[edit]

Organization Category Recipients and nominees Result
70th Academy Awards Best Supporting Actor Burt Reynolds Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Julianne Moore Nominated
Best Original Screenplay Paul Thomas Anderson Nominated
55th Golden Globe Awards Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture Burt Reynolds Won
Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture Julianne Moore Nominated
51st British Academy Film Awards Best Actor in a Supporting Role Burt Reynolds Nominated
Best Original Screenplay Paul Thomas Anderson Nominated
Boston Society of Film Critics Awards 1997 Best New Filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson Won
British Independent Film Awards Best Foreign Independent Film – English Language Won
Chicago Film Critics Association Awards 1997 Best Supporting Actor Burt Reynolds Won
Dallas–Fort Worth Film Critics Association Awards 1997 Best Supporting Actor Burt Reynolds Won
Florida Film Critics Circle Awards 1997 Best Cast Won
Best Supporting Actress Julianne Moore Won
Las Vegas Film Critics Society Awards 1997 Best Supporting Actor Burt Reynolds Won
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards 1997 Best Supporting Actor Burt Reynolds Won
Best Supporting Actress Julianne Moore Won
New Generation Award Paul Thomas Anderson Won
National Society of Film Critics Awards 1997 Best Supporting Actor Burt Reynolds Won
Best Supporting Actress Julianne Moore Won
1997 New York Film Critics Circle Awards Best Supporting Actor Burt Reynolds Won
Golden Satellite Awards 1997 Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture Burt Reynolds Won
Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture Julianne Moore Won
Best Cast – Motion Picture Won
Best Film – Drama Nominated
Best Director Paul Thomas Anderson Nominated
Original Screenplay Paul Thomas Anderson Nominated
Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama Mark Wahlberg Nominated
Best Editing Nominated
4th Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture Nominated
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role Burt Reynolds Nominated
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role Julianne Moore Nominated
Writers Guild of America Awards 1997 Best Original Screenplay Nominated

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "BOOGIE NIGHTS (18)". British Board of Film Classification. October 28, 1997. Retrieved July 5, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b Box Office Mojo: Boogie Nights
  3. ^ McKenna, Kristine (October 12, 1997). "Knows It When He Sees It". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-06-25. 
  4. ^ Waxman, Sharon R. (2005). Rebels on the backlot: six maverick directors and how they conquered the Hollywood studio system. HarperCollins. p. 115. ISBN 978-0-06-054017-3. 
  5. ^ Hirshberg, Lynn (December 19, 1999). "His Way". The New York Times Company. Retrieved 2012-06-25. 
  6. ^ Mottram, James (2006). The Sundance Kids : how the mavericks took back Hollywood. NY: Faber & Faber, Inc. p. 129. ISBN 9780865479678. 
  7. ^ Steven Lemons. "Return to Wonderland". Salon. Retrieved 2014-03-20. 
  8. ^ "Box Office Mojo". IMDb. Retrieved 2011-06-25. 
  9. ^ "Boogie Nights". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixter. Retrieved 2012-05-16. 
  10. ^ "Boogie Nights". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 2010-07-01. 
  11. ^ "''New York Times'' review". 1997-10-08. Retrieved 2011-06-25. 
  12. ^ "''Chicago Sun-Times'' review". Retrieved 2011-06-25. 
  13. ^ LaSalle, Mick (1997-10-17). "''San Francisco Chronicle'' review". Retrieved 2011-06-25. 
  14. ^ Boucher, Geoff. "Los Angeles Times review". Retrieved 2011-06-25. [dead link]
  15. ^ "Rolling Stone review". Rolling Stone. Retrieved February 6, 2014.

External links[edit]