With each new Paul Thomas Anderson film, admirers of the PTA catalog inevitably look back, make comparisons, and track the maturation of a relatively short, unusually creative movie career. And Boogie Nights often surfaces as the true birth of that career — Anderson’s second feature is my personal favorite and possibly the best film of the 1990s. If a movie could be graded on explosive, cinematic energy, Boogie Nights would be off the charts.
Now, well-timed with the release of Inherent Vice, PTA’s seventh full-length entry, Grantland writers Alex French and Howie Kahn present a first-person (well, many persons) account of the making of Boogie Nights, entitled “Livin’ Thing: An Oral History of Boogie Nights.” Enjoy both of those sly references for a moment — and then realize that you absolutely have to read this piece. Especially if you want to know exactly how a headstrong 26-year-old actually made a movie inspired by the history of the porn industry and the size of porn actor John Holmes’ equipment. Just read it now.
The Grantland article includes plenty of information on The Dirk Diggler Story, Anderson’s 31-minute short that paved the way for Boogie Nights. If you’re a big fan, you’ve already seen it; if you haven’t, you’ll recognize it as the precursor to Amber’s documentary on Dirk.
I’ve included the entire short here, but you can also catch it directly in the Grantland piece (taken from a VHS copy, according to the YouTube entry). It’s rough. But it makes you wanna go back and watch Boogie Nights. Again.