The Greatest Movie Scene of All Time

Every month, we ChicagoNow bloggers are asked to complete a time trial wherein we are given a topic and asked to write a post in less than an hour. This month’s topic was to write about a movie scene that has affected us in some way.

If you know me, you probably know my favorite movie is Boogie Nights. Yes, the porn movie.

But you may not know the reason why it’s my favorite. That movie came out at the end of 1997, the year of Titanic and Good Will Hunting, but also the year that I was a freshman in college. It was also the year that I met John, though we were just friends at this point. Because of him, I saw a ton of movies that year, more movies than I’d ever seen in my life. And when I saw Boogie Nights I just knew it was something special and that PT Anderson was operating on a completely different level from everybody else out there.

I didn’t know who most of the actors were. I knew Mark Wahlberg as Marky Mark and the guy from Fear who had “Nicole 4 EVA” tattooed on his torso. I knew Burt Reynolds as the guy who was once married to Lonnie Anderson, according to my People magazines. I’d seen William H. Macy in other stuff, like Fargo. But this movie introduced me to (or forced me to pay more attention to) Julianne Moore, John C. Reilly, Heather Graham, Don Cheadle, Melora Walters, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Luis Guzman, and Thomas Jane, among other people.

Once this film came to video (because we were still watching things on VCRs in 1997), one of our friends would play this movie on a loop in his dorm room. I think it was mostly because he liked it, but also because he liked to cheese off some of the more conservative members of our crowd. I remember one night in particular, when I got into a huge discussion with a girl about how the movie is not so much about the porn industry as it is about finding family where you least expect it when you most need it. I got so caught up in that conversation that I actually wrote my final thesis for my English class on the theme of family in Boogie Nights. I maintain that it was one of the best things I’ve ever written, I will continue to say that probably because all copies of that paper have disappeared from the planet.

Ah, but you want to know about the scene. This post is about THE SCENE. The best scene in this film full of great scenes is one that is so full of ridiculous tension and danger it keeps you on the edge of your seat the entire time. It’s a master class in raising stakes. Everything from the firecrackers to the music to Mark Wahlberg’s face is just perfection, squirm-inducing perfection. This is a scene that has been parodied and cribbed from on many occasions (witness My Name is Earl and the final scene of The Sopranos). I give you the drug deal scene at Alfred Molina’s house.

(FYI, language and drug use and Alfred Molina in tighty whities)

First “Sister Christian”

And then “Jesse’s Girl”

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