WARNING!: The following video clip is the opening three minutes of an R-rated drama and contains one possibly offensive word. It is presented as the marvel of fillm-making it is - one long continous shot, no cuts.
HERC would be the first to say writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson does not make happy films. His first film Hard Eight  was originally titled Sydney before studio intervention and dealt with gambling; Magnolia  is a rough study of estrangement and redemption; Punch Drunk Love  is not Adam Sandler's least funny film nor is it a comedy; There Will Be Blood  is as dark and intense as the crude oil the lead character seeks and The Master  is a story filled with characters that leave the viewer needing a shower and some cute kitten videos to view afterwards. Ultimately, all of his films have been about characters on the fringes of society making horrendous, life-defining decisions. Which brings us to today's eagerly anticipated Spring debut of the Friday Hideaway Film Fest which features Anderson's 1997 study of a group of individuals involved in making adult films, Boogie Nights.
(Before you get all hot and bothered in a good or bad way, rest assured that The Hideaway remains family-friendly. No offensive images will be displayed. A few brief trivia tidbits about the film will be followed by an examination of the film's epic soundtrack. That's it.)
The lead role in the film ("Eddie Adams") was originally offered to Leonardo DiCaprio who turned it down because he had already agreed to do a little art film some of you might have seen about a ship, an iceberg and a talking kangaroo. HERC never saw that film and according to worldwide box office grosses he might be the only person alive who didn't view said film whose title escapes him. The role was also offered to Joaquin Phoenix (who eventually starred in The Master) and Vincent Gallo before finally being accepted by Mark Wahlberg, who had been recommended by first-choice DiCaprio. Among the other actors considered for supporting roles before final casting include Samuel L. Jackson, Marisa Tomei, Gwenyth Paltrow and Jack Black.
Boogie Nights opened wide (a legitimate movie term) on Halloween Day 1997. It ran just over two and a half hours and cost a reported $15M to make. To avoid a dreaded NC17 rating, approximately 40 seconds was trimmed from various scenes to earn a hard R although an early, longer rough cut was widely pirated. The film grossed more than $26M at the box office and was released as a bare-bones DVD in April 1998 before being reissued as a double-disc Platinum Edition DVD in August 2000 and most recently on blu-ray in 2010. HERC cannot recommend this film because of the subject matter and the dark places the characters go. Nevertheless, it is one of his all-time favorite films based on the filmcraft and acting alone - the soundtrack is the cherry on top.
With more than 40 songs featured in the film and advance trailer, the soundtrack ranks on a scale with American Graffiti or Dazed and Confused as an epic song collections. (Truth be told, HERC will often queue up the soundtracks to both Boogie Nights and Dazed and Confused and let them play on shuffle.) Set in the years 1977-1984, the film features many songs from that period as well as a few choice ones from before that timeframe. The initial soundtrack album was released shortly before the film in October 1997 and featured just 13 tracks:
"Intro (Feel the Heat)" by John C. Reilly & Mark Wahlberg
"Best of My Love" by The Emotions
"Jungle Fever" by The Chakachas
"Brand New Key" by Melanie
"Spill the Wine" by Eric Burdon and War
"Got to Give It Up (Part 1)" by Marvin Gaye
"Machine Gun" by The Commodores
"Magnet and Steel" by Walter Egan
"Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now" by McFadden & Whitehead
"Sister Christian" by Night Ranger
"Livin' Thing" by Electric Light Orchestra
"God Only Knows" by The Beach Boys
"The Big Top (Theme from Boogie Nights)" by Michael Penn & Patrick Warren*
*contains Hidden Track: "The Touch" by Mark Wahlberg
Boogie Nights 2: More Music From The Original Motion Picture followed in January 1998, featuring eleven more songs from the movie:
"Mama Told Me (Not to Come)" by Three Dog Night
"Fooled Around and Fell in Love" by Elvin Bishop
"You Sexy Thing" by Hot Chocolate
"Boogie Shoes" by K.C. & The Sunshine Band
"Do Your Thing" by Charles Wright & The Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band
"Driver's Seat" by Sniff 'n' the Tears
"Feel Too Good" by The Move
"Jessie's Girl" by Rick Springfield
"J.P. Walk" by Sound Experience
"I Want to Be Free" by Ohio Players
"Joy" by Apollo 100
HERC collected all of the officially released soundtrack songs from Boogie Nights (both albums are on Spotify) and added in all the other ones he could find after freeze-framing the film's closing credits to get a master list of songs. Ironically, the hit "Boogie Nights" by Heatwave was not included, reportedly because the singer objected to the film's subject matter. The final song in the film ("Livin' Thing") was initially held back for the same reason until the rights-holder (Jeff Lynne) saw the film and granted permission to include it.
(this post previously appeared here)