Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Paul Thomas Anderson|
|Written by||Paul Thomas Anderson|
|Music by||Michael Penn|
|Edited by||Dylan Tichenor|
|Distributed by||New Line Cinema|
|Box office||$43.1 million|
Boogie Nights is a 1997 American drama film written, produced and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson. It is set in Los Angeles' San Fernando Valley and focuses on a young nightclub dishwasher, Eddie Adams, 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 is an expansion of Anderson's mockumentary short film The Dirk Diggler Story (1988).
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 meets 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 sex life, Adams moves in with Horner at his San Fernando Valley home.
Adams gives himself the screen name "Dirk Diggler", and becomes a star because of his good looks, youthful charisma and unusually large penis. His success allows him to buy a new house, an extensive wardrobe and a "competition orange" 1976 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray. He and his friend, porn star Reed Rothchild, pitch and star in a series of successful action-themed porn films. Ostensibly, Dirk and the others he works and socializes with from the porn industry, are all living carefree lifestyles in the late 70s disco era. However, that changes at a New Year's Eve party at Horner's house marking the year 1980, when assistant director Little Bill Thompson discovers his porn star wife having sex with another man, shoots them with a gun and kills himself.
Shortly afterward, Dirk and Reed begin using cocaine. Due to Dirk's habit, he finds it increasingly difficult to achieve an erection, falls into violent mood swings and becomes upset with Johnny Doe, as a new leading man that Jack recruited him. After having an argument with Jack during a film shoot, Dirk is fired by Jack, and he and Reed leave to pursue their dream of rock and roll stardom along with Scotty, a boom operator who is in love with Dirk.
Jack previously rejected business overtures from Floyd Gondolli, a "theater" magnate in San Diego and San Francisco, who insists on cutting costs by shooting on videotape, because Jack believes videotape will diminish the quality of his films. However, after his main source of funding, Colonel James, is imprisoned for child pornography, Jack begins working with Floyd, and subsequently becomes disillusioned 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, who beat up and leave him bleeding and half-conscious on the street. Leading lady Amber Waves, who took Dirk 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 disqualified from a bank loan which he needs to open his own stereo equipment store. That night after arriving at the donut shop, he finds himself in the middle of a holdup that the clerk, the robber and an armed customer are killed in the resulting shootout. Buck escapes with the money that the robber demanded.
Meanwhile, Dirk and Reed have become addicted to cocaine. Having squandered their money on drugs, they are unable to pay a recording studio for the demo tapes they believe will enable them to become music stars. Desperate for money, Dirk resorts to prostitution, but he is assaulted and robbed by three men. Dirk, Reed and their friend Todd attempt to scam drug dealer Rahad Jackson by selling him a half-kilo of baking soda as the fake cocaine. Dirk and Reed wish to leave quickly before Rahad's bodyguard inspects the product, but Todd fails to steal money from Rahad who kills him in the ensuing gunfight. Frightened by his brush with death, Dirk reconciles with Jack. In 1984, Buck opens his own store and his son has been born, Amber shoots the TV commercial for Buck's store opening, Reed practices a successful magic act at a topless bar, Colonel James is the victim of beatings in prison and Rollergirl lives at home with Jack. Dirk and Amber prepare to start filming again.
Boogie Nights is based on a mockumentary short film that Anderson made, while he was still in high school called The Dirk Diggler Story. He originally wanted the role of Eddie to be played by Leonardo DiCaprio, after seeing him in The Basketball Diaries. DiCaprio enjoyed the screenplay, but had to turn it down because he signed on to star in Titanic. DiCaprio recommended Mark Wahlberg for the role. Joaquin Phoenix was also offered the role of Eddie, but turned it down due to concerns about playing a porn star. Phoenix would later collaborate with Anderson in the films, The Master and Inherent Vice. Bill Murray, Harvey Keitel, Warren Beatty, Albert Brooks and Sydney Pollack declined or were passed up on the role of Jack Horner, which went to Burt Reynolds. Star of Anderson's previous film Hard Eight, Samuel L. Jackson was initially offered the role of Buck Swope, but after reading the script, turned it down because, according to Anderson, "he didn't get it". The role was given to Don Cheadle. Anderson initially did not consider Heather Graham for the role of Rollergirl, because he had never seen her do nudity in a film. Graham's agent called Anderson asking if she could read for the part, which she won. Drew Barrymore and Tatum O'Neal were also up for the role.
After having a very difficult time getting his previous film, Hard Eight released, Anderson laid down a hard law when getting Boogie Nights made. He initially wanted the film to be over three hours long and be rated NC-17. The film's producers, particularly Michael De Luca, said that the film had to be either under three hours or rated R. Anderson fought with them, saying that the film would not have a mainstream appeal no matter what. They did not change their minds, and Anderson chose the R rating as a challenge. Despite this, the film was still twenty minutes shorter than promised.
Real life pornographic actresses Nina Hartley and Veronica Hart have cameos in the film. Hartley plays Little Bill's promiscuous wife and Hart plays the judge for Amber Waves' child custody case. Amber's custodial problems in the film were inspired by Hart's real-life custodial problems over her son.
Anderson and star Reynolds did not get along while filming. Later, Anderson considered Reynolds to star in his next film, Magnolia, but Reynolds became so angry with Anderson during the film's promotional tour, and he turned it down. After seeing a rough cut of the film, Reynolds became so upset that he fired his agent who recommended the film to him. Despite this, Reynolds won a Golden Globe Award and was nominated for an Academy Award for his performance.
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.
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. The site's consensus states: "Grounded in strong characters, bold themes, and subtle storytelling, Boogie Nights is a groundbreaking film both for director P.T. Anderson and star Mark Wahlberg." On Metacritic, the film holds an average score of 85 out of 100, based on 28 reviews.
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."
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."
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."
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]
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."
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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
The film received box success with Reynolds' depiction of Jack Horner garnered him twelve awards and three nominations, and Moore's depiction of Amber Waves garnered her six awards and nominations.
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- "''New York Times'' review". NYTimes.com. 1997-10-08. Retrieved 2011-06-25.
- "''Chicago Sun-Times'' review". RogerEbert.SunTimes.com. October 17, 1997. Retrieved 2011-06-25.
- LaSalle, Mick (1997-10-17). "''San Francisco Chronicle'' review". SFGate.com. Retrieved 2011-06-25.
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|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Boogie Nights|
- Boogie Nights at the Internet Movie Database
- Boogie Nights at Box Office Mojo
- Boogie Nights at Rotten Tomatoes
- Boogie Nights at Metacritic
- Boogie Nights script at the Internet Movie Script Database
- Paul Thomas Anderson radio interview
- "Livin' Thing: An Oral History of Boogie Nights", Grantland, December 2014